Fall 2011 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course explores the political, social, religions, economic and cultural life of the city-states of northern and central Italy from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries. Italy’s urban centers during this period have been described as “workshops of politics and government, engines of wealth, and innovative centers of culture as no European cities had been since antiquity.” The late medieval communes developed unique political ideologies as they struggled to maintain their freedom from papal and imperial encroachments and grapple with endemic civil strife.
In light of their own experiences, inhabitants of the city-states found new meaning in Aristotle’s discussion of “political life.” They also identified with republican Rome as a model for political and cultural developments, thus setting the stage for a new interest in and assessment of the classical past. The precocious economic development of north and central Italy gave rise to new religious traditions, as the growth of capitalism challenged older paradigms of spirituality.
Although many of these free, self-governing communes had fallen to powerful signori by the early fourteenth century, those which retained their republican liberty and independence continued and developed these intellectual and cultural trends, exerting an extraordinary influence on the culture of Renaissance Italy and ultimately Western Europe.
Sources studied will include the works of Italian artists, chroniclers, hagiographers, novelists, humanists, political theorists and historians
Trevor Dean, The Towns of Italy in the later Middle Ages, Manchester University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-7190-5204-1
John M. Najemy, ed., Italy in the Age of The Renaissance, Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-19-870040-1
John Wright, trans., The Life of Cola Di Rienzo, Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1975. ISBN 0-88844-267-X
Gene Brucker, ed., Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence: The Diaries of Buonaccorso Pitti and Gregorio Dati, Waveland Press, 1991. ISBN 0-88133-662-X
Raphael Brown, trans., The Little Flowers of St. Francis, Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, 1971. ISBN 0-385-07544-8
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Portable Machiavelli, Penguin, 1979. ISBN 0-14-015092-7
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria: