Italian 191: To Heal the Body, To Persuade the Mind: The Relationship between Lovesickness, Melancholy and Nostalgia in Renaissance Culture

Instructor: Massimo Ciavolella

Lovesickness, melancholy, and nostalgia share many traits in common. Indeed, through the course of history their pathologies have often overlapped, and the ambiguity thus created persists today. Medicine, natural philosophy, and literature play a unique role in this process of distortion and reassignment of meaning. In the case of these three pathologies in particular, physicians and philosophers have shown an indefatigable propensity to explore their boundaries, to bring their reciprocal relationships to light and, most importantly, to ponder their relevance in terms of the physical and mental health of the individual. This course will first focus on the relationship between melancholy and erotomania (amor hereos) in ancient and early modern medical and literary texts, with special emphasis on late medieval and Renaissance Italian works.