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IT324 Topics in Renaissance Thought and Culture

Module Code: IT324
Module Name: Topics in Renaissance Thought and Culture
Module Coordinator: Professor David Lines
Not Running 2023-24
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

Introduction to Renaissance Florence

Widely regarded as the 'cradle of the Renaissance', in the fifteenth century especially Florence experienced a remarkable flourishing of literature and the arts: it is strongly associated with figures such as Leon Battista Alberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Medici family (as well as, later on, Michelangelo, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Francesco Guicciardini). But what, precisely, lay behind these developments, and was Florence really quite as isolated in its glory as its portrayal often suggests? This module will examine various aspects of Florence's history and cultural production, up to the start in 1494 of the 'wars of Italy'. It will go through the fifteenth century in chronological sequence, pausing along the way to discuss and evaluate some signal cultural developments and compare the Florentine context with what was happening elsewhere in the Italian Peninsula.

Primary readings will be available in both the original and English translation.

Overview of the Module

Wk 1: The city of Dante: society and its discontents
I: From the 1390s to the 1430s
Wk 2: The growth of Greek scholarship and Latin literature (Leonardo Bruni)
We 3: Art, architecture, and the development of linear perspective (Filippo Brunelleschi, Masaccio)
Wk 4: Latin and vernacular in the production of a polymath (Leon Battista Alberti)
II: From 1440 to 1494
Wk 5: The Medici as political brokers and cultural patrons: from Cosimo the Elder to Lorenzo de' Medici
Wk 6: Reading Week
Wk 7: Emotions and individuality (Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello)
Wk 8: Art and science (Leonardo da Vinci)
Wk 9: The rebirth of Athens (Marsilio Ficino and Angelo Poliziano)
Wk 10: The (dis)order of society: did women have a Renaissance?

Foundational Reading

John M. Najemy, A History of Florence 1200–1575 (Blackwell, 2006; also as library E-Book).
Italy in the Age of the Renaissance 1300–1550, ed. by John M. Najemy (Oxford University Press, 2004; also as library E-Book).


This module is assessed via two essays:
Short essay 1200 words (30%)
Long essay 3000 words (70%)