After twenty-five years in the History Department at the University of Cincinnati, John Brackett decided to become a full-time writer and researcher and to retire from his teaching position at UC. A Renaissance scholar, he received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (1978, 1981, and 1986 respectively). The first focus of his research was violence and criminal justice, which resulted in his monograph, Criminal Justice and Crime in Late Renaissance Florence, 1537-1609 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). The book explores the Florentine criminal justice system under the reign of the first three Medici grand dukes. In articles and professional presentations, Brackett expanded on this topic by investigating issues often located at the margins of society, such as poverty and prostitution. In this vein, most recently his attention has converged on both the reality and imagination of Africa and Africans in Renaissance Italy. Specifically his publications and papers have investigated Alessandro de'Medici, the first Medici Duke of Florence, and his race and rulership â€“ material, which Brackett is now setting out to turn into a monograph.
John Brackett has been a dedicated and sought-after teacher of Renaissance Europe. Particularly in the small seminar setting but also in his upper-division courses, students noted and appreciated his enthusiasm for the topic and his dedication to the students. One former graduate student wrote: "John was at his best and most comfortable leading small discussions, and I remember fondly the discussions I enjoyed in his Renaissance Women course and his history and theory class. John has always supported me and kept up with my work. During my years at OSU I occasionally met with him in Cincinnati. His guidance at UC helped prepare me do graduate student work at OSU. He trained me to think as an historian." An advanced undergraduate commented: "Dr. Brackett is a gifted scholar and teacher. His classes in the Renaissance went far beyond names, dates, and places to explore the political, artistic, and societal themes that have resonated throughout history and continue to have implications for our time. Dr. Brackett's love for his field and the enthusiasm with which he shared that love were evident to students who were fortunate enough to be in his classroom. I consider myself one of those lucky ones." John Brackett was also appreciated as a compassionate and open-minded mentor of teaching assistants: "Dr. Brackett always showed great interest in the lives and well being of his TAs. I found him to be very personable and willing to converse with us on many topics."
Among John Brackett's many contributions to this university are his service as department head of African and African-American Studies from 1995-1999 and 2002 -2007 and as acting head of the History Department (July-December 2008). Moreover, for many years he was active in the AAUP, both on campus (eventually as its president) and nationally, and worked tirelessly to preserve the rights of his colleagues. For many years John Brackett has been a quiet, warm, and often smiling presence in the halls of McMicken. He will now turn more forcefully to finishing his monograph on Alessandro de' Medici. But importantly he also hopes to be able to immerse himself more fully in his other passion, the writing of crime stories set in Over-The-Rhine. We wish him well but we will miss him.