Italian 216A: Studies in the Renaissance: Machiavelli and Renaissance Political Thought


This course considers the idea of Humanism or, more correctly, of Humanisms, as the plural form conveys the multiple ways in which one can interpret the word “Humanism.” Although the class focuses primarily on 14th-16th-century Italy, we also aim to reflect on what it means to speak of Humanisms – and critiques thereof – in the 21st century. The course is divided into two parts: 1) we will explore various forms of Humanism; 2) we will examine a specific case of classical adaptation, that of the centaur myth, which will help us probe how these different forms of Humanism defy facile historical and conceptual definitions. Readings include Pico della Mirandola’s On the Dignity of Man, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Braidotti’s The Posthuman. Taught in English and reading knowledge of Italian recommended