French And Italian | Literature and Power in Early Modern Europe
S103 | 0213 | Scalabrini

This course will focus on the culture of the Italian Renaissance
courts and the modern European national states. We will examine the
complex relationship between literary creation and political power in
an age which witnessed the origin of modern Absolutism in European
history. How is poetry to preserve its inner freedom as well as its
open access to truth in the context of absolute political power? The
dilemmas of caution and resoluteness, simulation and dissimulation,
heroism and conformity will be considered as some of the central
forces shaping early modern Italian and European literature.

The central goal of the course is to read some of early modern
Europe's most representative works, to understand them in their
diverse historical contexts, and – on a more general note – to develop
a critical approach to literary texts. We will study the specific
cultural and political circumstances in which these works were
produced and read, as well as the metrical, rhetorical and stylistic
notions indispensable to an analytical understanding of them. A
selection of relevant critical essays will also be discussed. In order
to develop and exercise these analytical skills, the students will
write short essays, give an oral presentation, and write a final

Readings will include works by Dante, Ariosto, Machiavelli,
Guicciardini, Castiglione, Della Casa, Montaigne, F. Bacon, Accetto,
Gracián, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère and Alfieri.

Required Texts: N. Machiavelli, The Prince; F. Guicciardini, Maxims
and Reflections; B. Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier; G. Della
Casa, Galateo: A Renaissance Treatise on Manners. All other texts will
be available in the reader.