Spring 2022

The Italian Renaissance: Politics, Culture, and Society

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-125  |  History, as HIST-125


Jutta G. Sperling (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 125 [EU/TC/P], EUST 125)

Given the misrepresentations of Renaissance Florentine politics in popular media (Netflix series Medici) and the attacks on Renaissance European culture from theorists of decolonization (Walter Mignolo), one might ask: what is the relevance of the Renaissance today? In this course, we will discuss the extent to which the Florentine and Venetian republics’ struggles for survival in the midst of wars and despotic/oligarchic/feudal usurpations might, again, be of interest to us. We will critically examine Renaissance cultural productions (humanist history writing, portraiture, perspective, mapping, erotic art) while also appreciating the politics of beauty in architecture, urban planning, and figurative art. Other topics include: the African presence; the gendered politics of charity; patriarchal families; women writers; domestic slavery; Jewish communities; interactions with Islamic culture; the conquest of America. 

Spring semester. Professor Sperling.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which may include written documents, images, music, films, or statistics from the historical period under study. Exploration of scholarly, methodological, and theoretical debates about historical topics. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022