Florence in the Age of the Renaissance
Spring Semester 2008

Margot Tomsen

Frank Luttmer

Course Description and Objectives

This course is an introduction to the literature, history, art, philosophy, and theology of the Florentine Renaissance. By analyzing and interpreting primary texts and by experiencing the sights and sounds of Florence and nearby cities, the course seeks to reconstruct the world of Dante, Petrarch, Bocaccio, Donatello, Botticelli, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo.


Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron (Norton, 0-393-09132-5)
Dante, Inferno, trans. Robert Pinsky (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 0-374-52452-1)
Niccolo Machiavelli, Florentine Histories, trans. Laura F. Banfield and Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. (Princeton 0-691-00863-9)
Niccolo Machiavelli, Mandragola, trans. Mera J. Flaumenhaft (Waveland, 0-917974-57-3)
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. George Bull (Penguin, 0-140-44915-9)
Francesco Petrarca, Selections from the Canzoniere, trans. Mark Musa (Oxford, 0-19-281707-8)
A. Richard Turner, Renaissance Florence (Prentice Hall, 0-13-183066-X)


Final grades will be based on an evaluation of (1) two presentations of daily readings, (2) a presentation of an analytical essay, and (3) class participation.

The presentations of daily readings should (1) clarify the main patterns and themes of the reading and (2) pose questions to guide subsequent discussion. The presentations should be no more than five minutes long.

The presentation of an analytical essay may be on any topic related to the content of the course. The essay is to be interpretive, not simply descriptive. It should present a thesis and develop an argument (and include potential counter-arguments). Because opportunities for outside research are few, essays will likely focus on topics and evidence drawn from the course readings and/or from the sights of Italy. The grade will be based on the quality of the (1) thesis and argument, (2) organization, (3) logic, (4) evidence, (5) alternative interpretations, and (6) delivery. Presentations should be no more than 6-7 minutes.


April 28: Leave Cincinnati

April 29: Arrive in Florence

April 30: Dante, Canto 1; Turner, Introduction, 1

May 1: Dante 2 (JA), 3 (CB), 4 (BD); Turner, 2; Histories

May 2: Dante 5 (LD), 6 (EH), 7 (GL); Turner, 3; Histories

May 3-4: Weekend, No Class

May 5: Dante 9 (SL), 10 (JM), 11 (LS); Turner, 4-5; Histories

May 6: Dante 13 (NV), 15 (AW), 18 (SW); Turner, 6; Histories

May 7: Dante 19(JW), 26 (JW), 27 (KY), 31-34; Turner, 7; Histories

May 8-11: Long Weekend, No Class

May 12: Petrarch, Letter, Ascent, 1, 2 (JA) 3 (CB), 17 (BD); Decameron, Preface and Introduction; Prince, 6-8

May 13: Petrarch, 61 (LD), 132 (EH), 134 (GL); Decameron 1.1, 3.1; Prince, 15-18

May 14: Travel to Rome

May 15: Petrarch 136 (SL), 141 (JM), 189 (LS); Decameron, 3.10, 4.1; Prince, 24-26

May 16: Petrarch, 199 (NV), 272 (AW), 299 (SW); Decameron, 4.2, 4.5

May 17-18: Weekend, No Class

May 19: Petrarch, 311 (JW), 333 (JW), 365 (KY); Decameron, 5.9, 7.2, 9.2, 10.10

May 20: Mandragola

May 21: Presentations

May 22: Return to Cincinnati

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