The course – taught in English – is an interdisciplinary investigation of early modern Italian culture, seen from the perspective of power structures. In order to decode this complex web of relations, we will focus on some of the pivotal figures of 16th-century society, namely the prince, the courtier, and the artist, discussing works by Machiavelli, Castiglione, Condivi, and Cellini. Moreover, we will address the question of family relations and gender, by analyzing Machiavelli’s comedies and Castiglione’s seminal handbook of civility, The Courtier, as well as letters and treatises authored by women—such as Cereta, Fedele, Franco, and Matraini—whose voices the literary canon sought to silence. Drawing on literary and theatrical texts and visual artifacts, we will examine some of the key issues of the cultural, social, and political history of the period. No knowledge of Italian is required.
The course aims to provide students with a broad knowledge of key cultural, social, and gender issues during the Early Modern period in Italy. Through in-depth readings, class discussions, and written assignments, the course is designed to foster the development of essential analytical and critical skills that students can apply to diverse historical periods and cultural frameworks.
Departmental Goals II and III: Cultural Proficiency and Professional Preparation.
This course satisfies the Core Curriculum Learning Goal: AH (o and p).
Area of Inquiry C: Arts and Humanities
Goals o and p:
o. Examine critically theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and the cultural production related to the topics addressed.
p. Analyze arts and literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.
A Reader will be made available by the instructor and posted on SAKAI.
Course Requirements and Grade distribution:
The abilities defined in the learning goals will be assessed through oral and written activities.
Active class participation (10%); Students are expected to actively participate in class discussions.
One oral presentation (10%); Students are required to give a 10-minute presentation on a topic discussed with the instructor. Their performance will be evaluated according to their effectiveness in communicating as well as the thoroughness of their critical analysis of the subject.
Three 3-page papers (25%); Students are required to analyze a literary or visual text, discussing at least two sources linked to their topic. They are expected to demonstrate the ability to address and communicate complex ideas in standard written English.
Midterm exam (25%); The exam comprises two essay questions on the topics discussed in the first part of the course. It assesses each student’s ability to engage critically with the issues tackled in the course in relation to their historical, social, and cultural background as well as with the theoretical concepts expounded in the course.
Final exam (30%); The exam comprises three essay questions on the topics discussed after the Midterm. It assesses each student’s ability to engage critically with the issues tackled in the course in relation to their historical, social, and cultural background as well as with the theoretical concepts expounded in the course.