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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Mary R O'Neil
HSTEU 401
Seattle Campus

The Italian Renaissance:

Conditions of Renaissance culture: Italian republics and despots, humanism, the classical ideal of the arts, Machiavelli and the foundations of modern political thought; the end of an era.

Class description

The independent city states of the 14th to 16th centuries provided the social and political context for the emergence of the unique culture of Renaissance Italy. This course will begin with the rise of the communes, focusing especially on Florence, Rome and Venice, with some attention to other cities such as Milan, Mantua and Urbino. Political, social and family structures will be studied in some detail, along with art and literature, including humanist and vernacular writings. Central parts of the course are dedicated to 1) Florence, rise of the Medici, the Republic of 1494-1512, the political thought of Niccolo Machiavelli; and 2) the Renaissance in Papal Rome, ending with the devastating Sack of Rome in 1527.

Student learning goals

Italian history from late middle ages to 16th century.

Social and political structures, especially in Florence.

Role of family and women in Italian Renaissance society.

Literary views of society in Boccaccio and other novellas (short stories).

Political and social thought of humanists especially Niccolo Machiavelli.

Comparison of Italian political outcomes with those of northern Europe, including theory of the "failed state."

General method of instruction

Lecture, using slides much of the time, and in-class discussion to the extent possible given size of the class.

Recommended preparation

Some background in European history is strongly suggested but not required. This is a 400 level course, with a significant amount of reading and writing.

Class assignments and grading

Two papers, one short (4-5 pages) and one longer (8-10 pages) Short response papers (one page) on several assigned readings Midterm and Final exams

Papers: short 20%, longer 30% Midterm 20%, Final 30%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Mary R O'Neil
Date: 10/18/2009