Italian 116A: Laughing Matters in Renaissance Italy

Instructor: Raphaëlle Burns

This course provides an introduction to the Italian Renaissance through the prism of laughter. Laughter was anything but trivial to writers and artists of the time. In fact, it was considered by many to be of great philosophical, social, and pedagogical value. We will explore the humor of the humanists in its various guises, from wit and pleasant comedy to trenchant satire and the grotesque, and consider its place within broader transformations of Renaissance art and thought. Authors will include Alberti, Aretino, BraccioliniBurchiello, Castiglione, Fonte, Galileo, Leonardo, Machiavelli, and PulciAll works will be read and discussed in English, though attention to the Italian originals will be encouraged wherever possible.