This interdisciplinary course is a broad-based introduction to the culture and history of the Italian peninsula, from the Middle Ages to the present day. It offers a survey of major developments in politics, music, art, architecture, cinema, literature, and various forms of popular culture. We will encounter numerous individual artists, writers and political figures, from Dante in the 1300s through Michelangelo and Verdi to Berlusconi today, placing them and their achievements in a rich social and historical context. In describing the development of Italy as a nation-state and Italians as a people, we will trace continuities and changes from the independent city-states of the medieval period through the princely courts of the Renaissance, the foreign occupations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the nationalist movements of the 1800s, and the challenges faced by an autonomous Italy in the last century and a half, as it has experimented in turn with liberalism, colonialism, and totalitarianism, before settling down as the fractious Republic it is today.
Texts: Assigned readings will be posted on bCourses; the content of lectures and PowerPoints count as part of the course ‘text’.
Workload: Weekly participation exercises and reading assignments; 2 midterm examinations and written assignments; final examination.