Introduction to the Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance is often described as the beginning of modernity. This is because the Renaissance is the first coherent articulation of a number of ideas – from the role of the individual within society to the rise of capitalism – that are closely associated with notions of “modern”. In this interdisciplinary course, we will discuss the various aspects of Renaissance life and culture that made this era both distinct within and formative for the history of western society. We will focus primarily on art, literature and political philosophy to draw a picture of the major cultural forces shaping the Renaissance. You will encounter many famous figures, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Miachiavelli, placing these within their social and historical context. Where possible, the readings will be from the Renaissance itself, either writings of the authors, poets and artists we are studying, or the words of contemporaries writing about them.