To think of Italy is often to think of its art, whether one pictures the remnants of classical Rome or the masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque artists such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Caravaggio. It should therefore come as no surprise that the Italian literary tradition has foregrounded discourses on visual art ever since its inception. Whether linked to ideals of social and communal responsibility or to fantasies of unbridled – and therefore godlike and dangerous – creative powers, the figure of the artist has attracted writers and filmmakers interested in both the notion of the artist as an individual genius and as an embodiment of cultural values. In this course, we will follow historical and imaginary Italian artists across seven centuries and a variety of genres: autobiographies, art criticism, treatises, historical novels, plays, lyric poetry, and film, to name just a few. Throughout the course of the semester, our discussions will frequently revolve around questions of aesthetic experience, artistic identity, communal belonging and marginalization, and gender and sexuality.
Readings will include works by Giovanni Boccaccio, Leon Battista Alberti, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Vittoria Colonna, Gaspara Stampa, Giorgio Vasari, Benvenuto Cellini, Camillo Boito, Gabriele D’Annunzio, F. T. Marinetti, Anna Banti, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, among others.
Taught in English.
Required texts to be announced.