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New Undergraduate Course Supplement 2022

COLT 22.02 Renaissances

The period that has long been designated as the Renaissance – meaning ‘rebirth’ – in Europe embodies a series of notable developments across a number of fields. But the effort to privilege this indisputably remarkable era as an entirely unique moment in world history often begs the question: rebirth from what? This course aims to provide a partial reframing of the significance of the Renaissance through seeing it in considerable continuity with the preceding European past and its immediate future. Not, however, as a single, organic phenomenon moving along an inevitable historical trajectory, but rather as a cluster of plural realities that emerged at this time, some of them achieving extraordinary synergies with one another while others were set on a collision course with the ‘spirit of the age’. The temporal focus here is largely on the sixteenth century and most of the readings are drawn from Europe’s principal linguistic/cultural ‘zones of energy’ (to paraphrase the translator Mark Polizzotti): Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and English. The matter of religion will be central to the course’s considerations as this was the period in which both the Protestant and Catholic Reformations fought to take the upper hand in Europe, but it was also the time in which Muslims were definitively exiled from the Iberian Peninsula that they had dominated for a great deal of the preceding eight centuries, and when the Ottomans were increasingly consolidating their power in the Eastern Mediterranean after their conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Each week of the course is organized around specific issues that provide a framework for examining these dynamics as well as questions of spatial boundaries (within Europe and beyond), social and political cultures, gender, and the role of new technologies.  

Distributive and/or World Culture

Dist:INT or LIT; WCult:W

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