Course Description:

The course--taught in Italian--is an interdisciplinary investigation of early modern Italian culture, which focuses on hierarchies of power within the framework of the family, the court, and political discourse. We will devote special attention to pivotal centers of this culture, such as Florence, Rome, Urbino, and Venice, concentrating on the artists and the artworks who contributed to establish their fame. Besides discussing works by Machiavelli, Condivi, and Cellini, we will analyze a seminal handbook of civility, Castiglione’s The Courtier (1528), which features and dissects several of these dynamics, including gender relations. As a counterpoint, we will tackle texts authored by women writers, such as Veronica Franco and Moderata Fonte, and paintings made by women artists, such as Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana, which challenged the dominant ideology. We will thus address some of the key issues in the cultural, social, and political history of the period. Finally, we will examine excerpts from movie pictures, tracking the profound influence these models still exert on our culture.

Learning Goals:

The course aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of key cultural, social, and gender issues of Early Modern Italy. Through readings, screenings, 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.

Required Texts:

A Reader will be made available by the instructor and posted on SAKAI.

Course Requirements and Grade distribution:

Active class participation (15%); 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.

Two 3-page papers (25%); Students are required to analyze a literary or visual text, discussing two sources linked to their topic. They are expected to demonstrate the ability to address and communicate complex ideas in standard written Italian.

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 (25%); The exam comprises three essay questions on the topics discussed after the Midterm.