Humanities 211-212

The Renaissance World and the Birth of Modernity

Spring 2018 Syllabus

Books for Purchase

Note: To allow conversations in class, it is important that everyone in conference be reading the same edition of the course texts. The editions listed here (and available in the bookstore) have been chosen with an eye to keeping costs low and scholarly standards high.

  • Bossy, John. Christianity in the West. Oxford.
  • Burke, Peter, The Fabrication of Louis XIV. Yale.
  • Cervantes, Miguel de, Don Quixote. (trans. John Rutherford). Penguin.
  • Corneille, Pierre, The Cid/Cinna/The Theatrical Illusion. (trans. John Cairncross). Penguin.
  • Dear, Peter. Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and its Ambitions, 1500-1700. Princeton.
  • Descartes, Rene. Discourse on Method and Meditations. Hackett.
  • Galilei, Galileo. Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (trans. Stillman Drake). Anchor.
  • Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (ed. Richard Tuck). Cambridge.
  • Lafayette, Marie Madeleine de. The Princess of Clèves. (trans. John D. Lyons). Norton.
  • Locke, John. Second Treatise of Civil Government & Letter Concerning Toleration. Dover Thrift Edition.
  • Milton, John. Paradise Lost (ed. John Leonard). Penguin.
  • Molière, Don Juan & Other Plays. (ed. Ian Maclean). Oxford.
  • Shakespeare, William. The Tempest (ed. S. Orgel). Oxford.

All readings not required for purchase will be placed on reserve in the Library. For your convenience all other reserve books will be on two-hour desk reserve. 

* = accessible on line through the Hum 212 moodle

WEEK I (January 22-26)

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Stephen Greenblatt, “Learning to Curse”*

Lecture: This Rough Magic (Faletra)

WEEK II  (January 29 - February 2)

Vasari, "Life of Prosperzia di Rossi," in Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. Gaston du C. de Vere (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), I, 856-60*

Linda Nochlin, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”*

Mary D. Garrard, “Artemisia and Susanna"*

Elizabeth Cropper, “Life on the Edge: Artemisia Gentileschi, Famous Woman Painter”*

Fredrika H. Jacobs, “Woman’s Capacity to Create: The Unusual Case of Sofonisba Anguissola”*

Lecture : Canonicity and the Woman Artist (Katz)

WEEK III (February 5-9)

Selected Canons from The Council of Trent, The Thirteenth and the Twenty-Second Sessions. Available at

Selections from St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 114-16, 121-182*

Selections from The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by Herself, 205-211*

Andrea Bolland, “Desiderio and Diletto: Vision, Touch, and the Poetics of Bernini's Apollo and Daphne”*

John Bossy, Christianity in the West, 89-152

Lecture : Bernini and the Counter Reformation (Katz) 

WEEK IV (February 12-16)

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, PART I: Prologue, pp. 11-17; chaps. I-IV, pp. 25-47; chaps. VIII-IX, pp. 63-77; chaps. XXIII-XXX, pp. 186-280; PART II: Prologue, pp. 483-6; chaps. XXII-XXIV, pp. 630-653; chap. LXXIV, pp. 975-982.

Lecture: The Birth of the Modern Author (Garcia-Bryce)

WEEK V (February 19-23)

Galileo Galilei, The Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, 23-58, 175-216

Sir Francis Bacon, "The Great Instauration" & "Thoughts and Conclusions"*

Peter Dear, Revolutionizing the Sciences, European Knowledge & its Ambitions, 1500-1700, 10-79 & 101-48.

Lecture: The "New Science" & Early Modern Society (Breen)

WEEK VI (February 26-March 2)

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy.

Pascal, Pensées, 35-60, 62-71, 74-75, 82, 95, 149-55, & 309-10*

Dear, Revolutionizing the Sciences, 80-100 & 149-67.

Lecture: The Cartesian Revolution (Bedau) [NB: LECTURE WILL BE ON FRI. FEB. 23rd!]  

WEEK VII (March 5-9)

Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV, pp. 1-59, 85-105.

Saint-Simon, Louis de Rouvray, The Age of Magnificence: The Memoirs of the Duc de Saint-Simon, (selected, edited, translated by Sanche de Gramont), 21-23, 185-90, 40-50, 97-100, 135-178*

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Politics Drawn from the Holy Scriptures, pp. 57-70, 81-95, 100-07 160-163*

Lecture: Absolutism: What's in a Name? (Breen)

Spring Break (March 12-16)

WEEK VIII  (March 19-23)

Pierre Corneille, Le Cid

Molière, The Would-Be Gentleman

Suggested readings: Christian Jouhaud & Suzanne Toczyski, "Richelieu, or 'Baroque' Power in Action,"* & Georgia Cowart, "Muses of Satire: Le bourgeois gentilhomme & the Utopia of Spectacle"*

Lecture : Versailles and the King’s Distinction (Katz) 

WEEK IX (March 26-30)

Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, The Life and Letters of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, Vol. 1, Letter I, 86-126, 151-163*

Robert Dankoff & Sooyong Kim, eds., An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Celebi, 232-49

Derin Terzioǧlu, "The Imperial Circumcision Ritual of 1582, An Interpretation."*

Eric Dursteler, "Fatima Hatun, née Beatrice Michiel."*

Molly Greene, "The Ottoman Experience."*

Lecture: The Ottoman Empire in/and Early Modern Europe (Smiley)

WEEK X (April 2-6)

Madame de Lafayette, The Princess of Clèves

Suggested Reading: Christine Adams, "'Belle comme le jour': Beauty, Power, and the King's Mistress."*

Lecture: The Subject of Power (Steinman)

Mon. Apr. 2 @ 7pm: Movie & Pizza Night: Children of the Princess de Clèves (Nous, Princesses de Clèves) dir. Régis Sauder (2011)  

WEEK XI (April 9-13)

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Book I, Introduction and chapters 1-6, 10, 12-16; Book II, chapters 17-22, 24, 26, 29-31; Book III, chapters 32, 43; Review and Conclusion.

John Milton, Areopagitica*

Lecture: Skepticism and Authority in Thomas Hobbes (Breen)

WEEK XII (April 16-20)

Milton, Paradise Lost

Lecture: Reading Satan (Faletra)

WEEK XIII (April 23-27)

John Locke, Second Treatise on Government & A Letter Concerning Toleration

Lecture: God, Reason, and Locke’s Social Contract (Garrett)