103: History of Italian Culture

TT 11-12:30 | 106 Wheeler | Instructor: Professor Diego Pirillo

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Social & Behavioral Sciences OR Arts & Literature breadth requirement.

From Machiavelli to Shakespeare: the Renaissance World

Taught in Italian

As the names of Machiavelli and Shakespeare indicate, the legacy of the Renaissance is still very much present in our contemporary cultural consciousness, but what actually was the Renaissance? When did it start and what parts of Europe did it influence? Why did it coincide with one of the most dynamic and creative epochs in Western history, marked by the recovery of classical antiquity, the discovery of new worlds, the printing revolution and the establishment of a capitalist world-economy? To answer these questions the course will guide the students through some of the most important texts of the period, taking into account literature and art, science and politics, philosophy and religion. Along with Renaissance Florence, Rome and Venice, special focus will be directed to Shakespeare’s England to explore the ways in which the Renaissance was exported and appropriated outside of Italy, shaping the emergence of modern Europe. Alternating lectures with discussion sessions, the course will take advantage of the several resources available on the Berkeley campus, with visits to the Berkeley Art Museums and the Bancroft Library, to look closely at Renaissance books and art works.

Course Requirements

Regular attendance and participation, short oral presentation, quizzes, final paper.


Consent of the instructor.


To be announced in class.