Comparative Literature | Special Topics in Comp. Lit.: Art and Money
C301 | 1217 | Giancarlo Maiorino
11:150A-12:30P MW BH 142
This section meets with Honors H203 and meets COAS A & H requirement
and carries Cultural Studies Credit.
This new interdisciplinary course focuses on the relationship between
money and the arts. By money, I mean the socio-economic landscape of
production and consumption that became ever more predominant since the
Renaissance, when pre-capitalistic culture began to assert itself in
the mercantile economy of Florentine bankers and businessmen.
The first part of the course will focus on Florentine art and
literature. It will start with Dante's Inferno xxvi, the Ulysses
canto, as an introduction to mercantile adventurism, which will take
us to Boccaccio's Decameron, which presents a new mercantile ethos.
Then we shall read Alberti's Della Famiglia.
The second part of the course will focus on the reverse of the cultur
of alluence, namely the culture of indigence, which was central
especially to Spanish art and literature. Thus I take up the destitute
culture of the picaresque, which started the novel as a genre. The
focus will be on the Lazarillo de Tormes and on a number of artworks
by Velazquez, Ribera, and Murillo.
The modern section of the course will center, insofar as the culture
of indigence is concerned, on Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and
Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, which show many traits of picaresque
This course, therefore, is both comparative and interdisciplinary. The
texts are meant to shed light on recurrent concerns that are central
to our material culture.
Four papers (four-six pages) and two exams in class.