Honors | Literature and Power in Early Modern Europe (COLL)
S103 | 22871 | M. 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 that 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 forces shaping early modern Italian and European literature.
The 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 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
introductory and critical essays will also be discussed. In order to
develop and exercise these analytical skills, the students will
write three short essays, give an oral presentation, and take a
final exam.

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 a reader.