French and Italian | Topics in Italian Culture
M222 | 15329 | Storey, H. Wayne

This class investigates the role of identity in the cultural,
political, and artistic formation of medieval Italy from Rome’s
third-century revision of the definition of citizenship (225 A.C.E.)
to Boccaccio’s and the early humanists’ stories about corruption,
sexual betrayal, and the nature of royalty and of humankind. Do
medieval Italians identify themselves according to their family
ties, the State, their political party, the Church? (and at what
level? allegiance to the bishop or to the local priest who protects
their land claims against papal interests?) And how do financial
interests, class, language, education, and gender alter these
traditional identities that are anything other than monolithic? We
will examine the formation of identity across the peninsula, from
Milan and Venice to Arabic and Norman Sicily, to understand also the
foundations of modern Italian identity.

Readings will include selections from Boethius’s Consolation of
Philosophy, Polybius’s History of Rome, Boccaccio’s
Decameron, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Paul the Deacon’s
History of the Lombards, as well as Christian and Arabic
chronicles from Florence, Sicily, and Venice, crusade songs,
inquisition narratives, personal letters, and the art and
philosophies that marked the development of Italian medieval
cultures. Joint-offered with MEST-M 200. Fulfills A & H requirement.