Werner L. Gundersheimer (Section 01)
(Offered as HIST 36 [EUP] and EUST 49.) This course provides an introduction to Renaissance Italy and its Mediterranean setting during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Against a background of endemic plague, religious turmoil and chronic warfare, we’ll focus on such diverse Italian cities as Florence, Venice, and Ferrara, considering how people not unlike us dealt with increasingly complex, challenging times. We’ll also look beyond the peninsula to the Eastern Mediterranean and the immense challenge to European rulers, diplomats, and thinkers posed by the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (1453) and the spread of Islam into the Balkans. Readings and discussions will also devote close attention to developments in literature, philosophy, and the visual arts, so as to examine the validity of the concept of “renaissance.” Generations of scholars have labored mightily to jettison terms like “medieval” and “renaissance.” But the old vocabulary has proven resilient. What accounts for the vitality of the idea of rebirth? What developments in economics, politics, and the arts and sciences does it help us understand, or serve to conceal? How may it mislead or distract us from equally or more important continuities? Because this field routinely yields impressive scholarship in English, extensive readings in primary sources will be supplemented by some of the best current work. One class meeting per week.
Fall semester. Croxton Lecturer Gundersheimer.