Spring 2011 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (1400-1599) in European history are largely defined by two interrelated movements, the Renaissance and the Reformation. The term “Renaissance” is a reference to the era’s rediscovery of ancient Greek language and literature, the European appropriation of ancient Greek and Roman styles and values in the visual and literary arts and philosophy. This Greek and Roman revival provided intellectual tools and models, with which European scholars of the era could criticize the Scholastic learning of their medieval predecessors and with which they formulated a new educational program. Turning away from the heavily theological concerns of Scholastic inquiry, they took up a different object of study: the human. “Humanism” is a historian’s term referring to the new scholarly interest in grammar, rhetoric, history, literary studies, and moral philosophy that began in fifteenth-century Italy and spread to the rest of Europe by the end of the following century.
In the early sixteenth century, the printed words of an Augustinian friar objecting to the Church’s practice of selling indulgences set off another movement, the Reformation, that would permanently divide Western Christendom and bring on a century and a half of war, social upheaval, and religious reform. In this course we will focus on the intellectual history of the Renaissance and the Reformation, but we will do so without neglecting the concrete social and political events and conditions of the era. Nor will we ignore the lived experiences and world-views of subaltern Europeans, including women, the illiterate majority, and marginalized groups such as the Jews.
Steven Ozment, The Age of Reform, 1250-1550: An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe, 1250-1550 (Yale UP, 1980) ISBN 0300027605
Charles G. Nauert, Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe (Cambridge UP, 1995, 2006) ISBN 9780521547819
Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, ed. Daniel Javitch (W. W. Norton & Co., 2002) ISBN 0393976068
R. Po-Chia Hsia, Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial (Yale UP, 1996) ISBN 978-0300068726
Desiderius Erasmus, The Praise of Folly and Other Writings (W. W. Norton & Co., 1989) ISBN 0393957497
Steven Ozment, The Bürgermeister’s Daughter: Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town (Harper Perennial, 1997) ISBN 978-0060977214
and other texts
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
regular attendance, mid-term exam, a short paper, and a longer paper