French and Italian | Power & Image in Renaissance Italy
M334 | 2701 | J. Bondanella


"It is but in our own day that men dare boast that they see the dawn
of better things....  Now indeed, may every thoughtful mind thank
God that he has been permitted to be born in this new age, so full of
hope and promise...."  (Matteo Palmieri, Treatise on the Civil
Life)

Some contemporary scholars argue that an economic "rebirth" occurred
during the medieval period, claiming that the Renaissance was an
extension of the medieval world. Yet the Renaissance marked the time
of a conscious and deliberate attempt to change the way people thought
and acted in the world. This revolution grew out of a particularly
Italian view of the past and present, and Italy served as the crucible
for the formation of new ideals and values as well as a new
understanding of how human life could be lived. The writers and
thinkers of the Renaissance in Italy saw themselves as sharing an
outlook with classical antiquity: they thought of themselves as
different and special. Florentines took the lead in creating this new
age, and one of them, Giorgio Vasari, an artist and biographer,
coined the term "rinascità" (rebirth).

Home to some of the most outstanding artists and writers the world has
known, Renaissance Italy, with its energizing memories of Roman
greatness, gave birth to one of the world's great cultural
revolutions. This course will introduce you to some of Renaissance
Italy's most famous citizens: find out why Vasari called this period
the "rebirth"; why Boccaccio's Decameron was kept locked up in
some libraries even in the early twentieth century; why
Michaelangelo wore dogskin boots; why Machiavelli is sometimes called
the first political scientist; why Renaissance historians avoided
beginning their histories with the story of creation; why Petrarch's
love of gardening and mountain climbing was controversial in his
times; why modern songwriters still depict love as "fire" and "
burning"; why Boccaccio put a story about Giotto in his
Decameron; why an architect wrote a book on the family; why
Cellini claims the Pope said that artists were "above the law"; why
they painted fig leaves on figures in Michaelangelo's Last
Judgment; how Italy ‘civilized' Europe; who invented the fork; who
inspired Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well; and so on.
The emphasis will focus upon epoch-making writers and arists,
including Alberti, Boccaccio, Castiglione, Cellini, Galileo, Giotto,
Guicciardini, Leonardo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Petrarch. Topics
to be explored will include the economic basis of the Renaissance, the
rise of realism, the rebirth of classical antiquity, the role of
power, authority and religion in Renaissance life, new theories of
politics and statecraft, family and society, the art of love, a sexual
revolution, the invention of new art, the changing concept of the
artist, a new way of writing history.

This is an INTENSIVE WRITING COURSE, and 3-4 short essays will be
assigned along with some in-class writing. The course will be devoted
to reading and discussing the assigned texts. Attendance is expected.
For more information, contact the instructor: Julia Bondanella
(bondane@indiana.edu).