Massachusetts Hall Cambridge, MA 02138, United States
Bouwsma received his Bachelor of Arts in 1943 and Master of Arts in 1947 from Harvard University. After the service in the Air Force, he returned to obtain his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1950.
(Bouwsma offers a wholly new and intriguing interpretation...)
Bouwsma offers a wholly new and intriguing interpretation of the place of the European Renaissance in modern culture.
Bouwsma received his Bachelor of Arts in 1943 and a Master of Arts in 1947 from Harvard University. After the service in the Air Force, he returned to obtain his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1950.
William J. Bouwsma taught at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana until 1957, accepting a position in the History Department at U.C. Berkeley. From 1969 to 1971 he taught at Harvard and then returned to U.C. Berkeley as Chairman of the History Department, serving in this capacity from 1966 to 1967, and from 1981 to 1983. He also was vice chancellor for academic affairs from 1967 to 1969. Since 1991 he had been professor emeritus.
Bouwsma wrote several books on European history. His Venice and the Defense of Republican Liberty: Renaissance Values in the Age of the Counter Reformation discusses why Venice, in contrast to other Italian cities during the Renaissance, appears not to have produced any political geniuses comparable to Machiavelli, Savonarola, or Guicciardini.
In John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait Bouwsma examines the life of the famed religious reformer whose thought has been credited—or blamed—for many aspects of the modern world, including “capitalism, modern science, secularization, democracy, and individualism,” according to the book’s publisher.
In Commonweal F. Forrester Church called the book “thoughtful, and thought-provoking,” and in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Donald R. Kelley wrote that it was “accessible and enjoyable,” and provides “a sense of Calvin’s human spirit between the lines and behind the surface” in its “richly wise and splendidly engaging portrayal.”
A Usable Past: Essays in European Cultural History is a collection of essays covering forty years of Bouwsma’s thought and scholarship on the Renaissance and Reformation. Bouwsma does not consider only the past, but views issues that are of interest in every age, including political thought, historiography, metaphysical notions of order, the connection between Renaissance humanism and Protestant ideals, the effect of particular groups on the course of history, and the teaching of history.
In The Waning of the Renaissance: 1550-1650, Bouwsma considers European culture in the latter part of the Renaissance and argues that, contrary to traditional thought, our culture is not a direct heir to the Renaissance. According to Bouwsma, although the Renaissance was characterized by great creativity, flexibility, and growth, these very qualities made people worry about the ill effects of excess freedom and the potential disorder too which it might lead.
(The essays assembled here represent forty years of reflec...)1990
(Bouwsma offers a wholly new and intriguing interpretation...)2000
William J. Bouwsma was a member of the American History Association, American Philosophical Society, Renaissance Society of America, American Society Reformation Research and Society Italian History Studies.
William J. Bouwsma married Beverly Jean Hancock on July 9, 1944. They had four children, John Roger, Philip Hancock, Paul Joseph and Sarah Elizabeth, and six grandchildren.