160: Italian Through Media: From Gutenberg to the Digital Revolution

TuTh 11-12:30 | 6331 Dwinelle | Instructor: Diego Pirillo

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Historical Studies OR Social & Behavioral Sciences breadth requirement.

Taught in Italian.

Our present is often referred to as the ‘age of information’, marked by the expansion of knowledge-producing occupations and by the transformation of information into a commodity and social good. By bringing history into media studies, this course will show that adopting a long-term perspective—and examining the similar concerns over communication that past societies had—enables us to better understand our present ‘information society’. After a brief introduction to antiquity and the Middle Ages, the course will focus on the ‘age of print’ and will examine how the printing revolution shaped the emergence of modernity, influencing its social, intellectual and religious tensions as well as the interactions within and outside of Europe. Along with print culture the course will devote substantial attention to the interaction between different media, taking into account handwritten texts and images (including visual arts and maps). Considering material objects and the emergence of modern collecting practices (museums, cabinets of curiosities), the course will also explore the anxiety created by the ‘information overload’ caused by the recovery of ancient civilizations and the discovery of new worlds. Alternating lectures and discussions, many classes will take place at the Bancroft Library, at the Berkeley Museum of Art and at the Berkeley Museum of Anthropology in order to examine manuscripts and early printed books as material objects and to introduce students to premodern visual culture.

Texts: to be announced.

Prerequisites: Italian Studies 101 or placement exam.