Dr. Brian Jeffrey Maxson

Dr. Maxson

(423) 439-6698
Rogers-Stout 206






Assistant Professor
Assistant Dean of the Graduate School

B.A., 2002, Michigan State University
M.A., 2003, Northwestern University
Ph.D., 2008, Northwestern University

About Dr. Maxson:  

Dr. Maxson's research focuses on the political, social, and cultural history of premodern Europe, particularly Italy.  His first monograph, The Humanist World of Renaissance Florence, 1400-1480 was released by Cambridge University Press in early 2014The book examines the learned interests of hundreds of so-called amateur humanists in Renaissance Florence and, using a case study of Florentine diplomats, argues that demands of political and social rituals motivated the spread, form, and success of the humanist movement.  Dr. Maxson has also published numerous articles in venues including I Tatti Studies, Archivio Storico Italiano, Renaissance Studies, and others. He has held fellowships most recently from Villa I Tatti (the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies), the Marco Institute at the University of Tennessee, and the Research and Development Council at ETSU. He was a recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences award for Distinguished Research for the 2013-14 academic year.  Dr. Maxson keeps an updated profile on academia.edu (https://etsu.academia.edu/BrianMaxson)  and is also on twitter (@maxson_brian). 

Areas of Academic Specialty   
Europe between 1050 and 1700 
Political, diplomatic, cultural, and social history Italy 


Selected Publications: 


Maxson book




The Humanist World of Renaissance Florence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

This book offers a major contribution for understanding the spread and appeal of the humanist movement in Renaissance Florence. Investigating the connections between the individuals who were part of the humanist movement, Brian Jeffrey Maxson reconstructs the networks that bound them together. Overturning the problematic categorization of humanists as either professional or amateurs, a distinction based on economics and the production of original works in Latin, he offers a new way of understanding how the humanist movement could incorporate so many who were illiterate in Latin, but who nonetheless were responsible for an important intellectual and cultural paradigm shift. The book demonstrates the massive appeal of the humanist movement across socio-economic and political groups and argues that the movement became so successful and so widespread because by the 1420s¬-30s the demands of common rituals began requiring humanist speeches. Over time, deep humanist learning became more valuable in the marketplace of social capital, which raised the status of the most learned humanists and helped disseminate humanist ideas beyond Florence.



After Civic Humanism: New Approaches to Politics and Learning in Renaissance Italy, eds. Nicholas Scott Baker and Brian Jeffrey Maxson. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, in production, forthcoming in 2015.



Giannozzo Manetti, the King, and the Emperor” text by Brian Jeffrey Maxson, with textual edition by Stefano Baldassarri, Archivio Storico Italiano 167, no. 3 (2014): 513-569.


“The Ritual of Command: Humanism, Magic, and Liberty in Fifteenth-Century Florence,”in After Civic Humanism, edited by Nicholas Scott Baker and Brian Jeffrey Maxson. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, forthcoming in in 2015.

“Claiming Byzantium: Papal Diplomacy, Biondo Flavio, and the Fourth Crusade,” Studi  Veneziani (2013): 129-157, in production.


“‘This Sort of Men’: the Vernacular and the Humanist Movement in Fifteenth-Century Florence,” I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance 16, no. 1/2 (Fall 2013): 257-271.


“Establishing Independence: Ritual, Empire, and Leonardo Bruni’s History of the FlorentinePeople,” in Foundation, Dedication and Consecration Rituals in Early Modern Culture, eds. Maarten Delbeke, Jan de Jong, and Minou Schraven, 79-98 (Leiden: Brill, 2012).