(updated 16 Jan. 2014) 


Leonardo to the Internet:

Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present

Thomas J. Misa

Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011; 2nd edition
L2i cover 2nd


WWW sites:

  • Giorgio Vasari (1511-74): Life of Leonardo da Vinci [1550/68]
  • Leonardo and the Engineers of the Renaissance: The machines and constructions of Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi and other engineers [IMHS Florence]
  • The Mind of Leonardo: The universal genius at work [IMHS Florence]

  • Preface and Chapter 1. Technologies of the Court (1450-1600)

    A key concept in Misa's book is "eras" -- does he view technology as a social force that changes society, social product changed by society, or an interactive social process?

    Briefly describe 2-3 characteristics (people, technologies, dominant institutions, cultural elements) that help define these eras:
    Courts (1450-1600)
    Commerce (1588-1740) Industry (1740-1851) Empire (1840-1914)

    How did Renaissance courts influence Leonardo's technology during these phases of his career:
    Florence 1st


    1st Milan period military engineer Florence 2nd
    2nd Milan Rome
    French court 

    . . .and how did Leonardo's technology influence aspects of Renaissance culture?

    Who "invented" linear perspective?  How did it alter the character of technology and engineering?

    CONTRAST the "fine arts" view of the Renaissance in WebMuseum-Paris with Misa's view.

    DESCRIBE the technical achievements and cultural consequences of Gutenberg, Luther, and Plantin.  IDENTIFY their "court" sponsorship.

    How did cultural elements in China and the Middle East influence the spread of paper? of printing?

    EXPLAIN how printing changed the character of technology:

    DISCUSS the role of [a] illustrations and [b] courtly patrons in . . .:
    Biringuccio's Pirotechnia (1540) 


    Agricola's De re metallica (1556)

    SUMMARIZE the character of Renaissance-era technologists and their practices:


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