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HIST 0260 Culture and Society in Early Renaissance Italy

This course explores Italy in the period c.1290-1400. Even before the first onslaught of the Black Death in the 1340s carried off between a third and a half of the population, this was an era of profound and complex change in the Italian peninsula. In cities such as Florence, Padua and Siena fundamental political alteration spurred an extraordinary burst of creativity in literature, the arts, and political and financial institutions, as well as great conflict and startling violence.  Statesmen, writers and artists found new ways of expressing old and new emotions, aspirations and desires, in language, ceremonial, painting, sculpture and architecture.  In this course, students study an era which not only gave western culture many of its ‘greats’, but also brings them face-to-face with the troubling relationships between conflict and creativity, violence and vision.

Sample Topics

  • Governing: Cicero, Contadi and the Civic Tradition
  • Praying: Religion and Politics
  • Writing the City: Dante and his Comedy
  • Loving: Dante and Petrarch
  • Building the City: Power, Piazzas and Palazzi
  • Paying for It All: A New Economy?  
  • Immortalising It: Giotto, Lorenzetti and the Arts of the Fresco
  • Escaping: Boccaccio’s Decameron
CMRS has made Oxford my second home and Medieval Studies a lifelong love
Although I attended the CMRS for a short time, my relationship with the people that I met there has only deepened over the years. My experience with t...
Michael D. McCartney, Autumn Semester 2003 & Summer 2005, Moravian College