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Community Teaching in Stratford, May-June 2013

Early Renaissance Italy

From May 2013, members of Warwick's Italian Department will be offering a community course (not accredited) on the Italian Renaissance. The eight-week course (7 May-25 June), involves a two-hour class each week. No previous knowledge is assumed, but participants will be expected to do some reading (20-30 pages) each week and to come prepared to discuss it. A lively interest will be a great help!

The period of the ‘Renaissance’ (or ‘rebirth’) is often closely associated with famous figues such as Leonardo da Vinci, Ficino, Machiavelli and Galileo. But how did this period of cultural renewal actually begin, and how did it relate to the culture of the late Middle Ages? What happened to long-standing authorities such as Aristotle and the Bible? What was Renaissance humanism? To answer these questions, this course will look at the production and writings (in translation) of three key figures of the period: Dante, Petrarch, and Leonardo Bruni. We shall also try to understand how the Italian Renaissance helped shape the modern world.

The course is especially designed for people in work or retirement. Due to a special subvention from the University of Warwick, the cost for this course will be only £90. Classes will include a mix of lectures and seminar-style discussions of readings. The first meeting will be a free taster session. Participants may pre-register for the course by contacting Jayne Brown ( by Monday, 29 April. A minimum of eight participants will be needed for the course to run.

The lead instructor, Dr David Lines (PhD in History, Harvard University), is Senior Lecturer at the University of Warwick, where he is Head of the Italian Department and member of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance. The author of a book and many articles, Dr Lines has been nominated for the Teaching Excellence Award. Dr Eugenio Refini (PhD in Literature, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa) is an expert in Renaissance literature and has substantial teaching and research experience. He too is a member of Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance.

Classes will run on Tuesday evenings, 6:00–8:00pm in the Lounge of Stratford Methodist Church ( Parking is available just in front of the Church.

Course outline:

Week 1 (7 May): Introduction to the Renaissance (Wk1 reading R.W.Southern; E.H.Gombrich)

Week 2 (14 May): Dante and the culmination of the Middle Ages (Wk2 reading Dante)

Week 3 (21 May): Dante's Convivio (The Banquet) and the long breath of Aristotle (Wk3 reading Dante's Convivio; Dante's Banquet)

Week 4 (28 May): Petrarch and the return to antiquity (Wk4 reading Petrarch Secretum)

Week 5 (4 June): Petrarch's invectives: On His Own Ignorance (Wk5 reading Petrarch De sui ipsius)

Week 6 (11 June): Leonardo Bruni and Florence in the early fifteenth century (Wk6 reading Bruni)

Week 7 (18 June): Eloquence, philosophy, and the humanists' ideals (Wk7 reading Bruni)

Week 8 (25 June): The Renaissance beyond Florence (Wk8 reading)

Course Administrator: Jayne Brown. Email