You are here

HSTRY 494 B: Colloquium in Historiography

Meeting Time: 
W 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SMI 306
Mary O'Neil
Mary O'Neil

Syllabus Description:


This Seminar will focus on the lives of central figures of Renaissance Florence –Cosimo de’ Medici, banker and founder of the family dynasty; his son Piero and grandson Lorenzo; the humanist intellectual Poggio Bracciolini; Alessandra Strozzi, the widow of political exile; the firebrand preacher Girolamo Savonarola; and the political genius of the Republic, Niccolò Machiavelli.  Themes to be discussed include the intersection of politics, religion and social issues as represented by these seminal figures.  Writing assignments include weekly response papers, and two short essays (3-4 pages) and one longer essay (7-8 pages)  drawing mainly on the assigned readings.


Instructor: Professor Mary O’Neil, Office Smith 212 A
                    Office Hours:  Thursday 11am-12:45 and by appt. at other times

Course description:  This is an historiographical seminar, approaching the Renaissance in Florence and Italy with a focus on major figures, such as the Medici, Savonarola and Machiavelli.   The following is a preliminary syllabus, which will be adapted on the basis of students’ interests and previous exposure to Renaissance Italy. 

Course requirements: 
Participation in class discussions & attendance 10 % 
Comments on assigned readings (1-2 pages: 1 page is fine, 2 page maximum)      20%
Two short papers 20 % each  due Mondays  Feb 4th and March 4th
        Leave papers in O’Neil mailbox in Smith 318 or submit by e-mail attachment
One longer paper 30% at end of quarter: due Exam Week March 20th

Course schedule
Week 1 
Jan 9       Introduction and overview of Renaissance Florence

Week 2 
Jan 16     Cosimo de’ Medici and the Medici Bank

               Reading:  Tim Parks, Medici Money:  Banking, Metaphysics and Art in 15th
                                                   Chapters 2-5,  pages 29-167
                                  Vespasiano, “Life of Cosimo de’ Medici,” in Lives of Illustrious Men
                                                   Link from Canvas page

               Assignment due in class:  comment on Medici Money or Vespasiano

Week 3   Class from Week 3 postponed to Week 4 due to Professor’s illness
Jan 23     

Week 4     Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve
Jan 30       Turn in response papers on any section of the book.

Week 5 The Strozzi Exiles and Piero de’ Medici
Feb 6      Reading:  Mark Phillips, The Memoir of Marco Parenti: A Life in Medici Florence
                                             Introduction, Chapters 1-10, pp. 3-188

Mon Feb 11  Assignment: first short paper (3-4 pages) Phillips on Piero de’ Medici & Parenti
                Leave papers in O’Neil mailbox in Smith 318 or by e-mail attachment                                                                
Week 6     
Feb  13        Women in Renaissance Italy
                   Selected articles to be announced and available on Canvas Links
                   Machiavelli, Mandragola  and Belfagor

Week 7  
Feb 20     Lorenzo the Magnificent and the Pazzi Conspiracy
                Reading: Lauro Martines, April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici
                Assignment due in class: comment on Martines: Lorenzo, Sixtus IV, Pazzi

Week 8   

Feb 27    Savonarola and the Republic of Florence
                   Reading: Lauro Martines, Fire in the City: Savonarola & Renaissance Florence

Mon March 4
               Assignment: 2cd short paper
(3-4 pages) on Martines on Lorenzo or Savonarola
               Leave papers in O’Neil mailbox in Smith 318 or submit by e-mail attachment

Week 9 
March 6     Machiavelli: Career with the Republic & French Invasion
                   Reading: Maurizio Viroli, Niccolo’s Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli
                                  Machiavelli: diplomatic correspondence

                   Assignment due in class: comment on Machiavelli’s republican career

Week 10
March 13      Machiavelli in exile: Fall of the Republic, Restoration of Medici
                   Viroli, Niccolo’s Smile  (continued)
                   Assignment due in class: comment on Machiavelli’s exile


Week 11   Assignment:  Weds March 20 Longer paper due; details to be discussed in class.
                 Topic to be selected by each student, additional bibliography available for
                                    each topic.



Catalog Description: 
Advanced seminar examining central issues in historiography. Emphasizes reading, discussion, and writing.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:05pm