College of Arts and Sciences | Laughter, Humor, and Wit in the Italian Renaissance
E103 | 15151 | Scalabrini

10:10AM - 11:00AM TR
See Schedule of Classes for discussion section times

Renaissance artists and writers were as committed to advocating the
dignity of humankind and its central place in the universe as they
were committed to making fun of or laughing at themselves and each
other. This course will focus on the comic literature of the Italian
Renaissance. We will explore the nature and various expressions of
comedy in genres such as the short story, the facetia ('witty
remark'), the apologue, the comic play, the epic and satiric poem
and the treatise. In doing so we will address the following
questions: What is the relation of laughter and ignorance, error,
moral and physical deformity? Does laughter bring people together or
does it set them apart? How does comedy articulate the ethical
concepts of innocence and guilt? How are conflicts dealt with in
comic texts? We will read works by Boccaccio, Ariosto, Machiavelli,
Aretino and Castiglione, among others, and we will also discuss a
selection of relevant historical and critical materials. Students
will write three short essays, take five quizzes and a final exam.