N the more ordinary understanding of the title of this collec-
tion ofessays, the process ofqueering the Renaissance has been
under way for some time. Perhaps since Joan Kelly resolutely
answered the question "Did Women Have a Renaissance?" in
the negative, the period has been under scrutiny in ways that have called
into question the accomplishments of the Renaissance as foundational
for modernity, or, at any rate, that have revealed aspects of that founda-
tion that need to be scrutinized.
Thus, to take one example, it is now
often observed that the humanism of the Renaissance-an accomplish-
ment so often celebrated in the past-was available to only a limited
segment of the population (not to all of "humanity"), for the most part
males within fairly limited socioeconomic strata and a small number of
women, almost all from the highest social
Hence, in the past
decade and more, various antihumanist agendas have been brought to bear
upon the period, and the collective work of feminists, materialists, new
historicists, and theorists ofa variety ofkinds has made it difficult to turn
to the Renaissance as a site for the creation of an "individual" (to recall
Burckhardt's thesis) whose nature is a site for celebration; rather, for con-
testation. Indeed, as Margaret Hunt suggests in her afterword in this
volume, it is precisely when anyone other than a privileged white hetero-
sexual male makes claims to a supposed "universal" individuality and
humanity that the contestatory nature of the claim is most clear. It is, in
part, for that very reason, as Hunt urges, that more work is needed to
investigate the relations between questions of race, gender, and sexuality
as they intersect with the projects of nation-building, colonialism, and
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