FYS-197 Florence: Art, Money and Power in the Renaissance City

Instructor: Chairperson/Associate Professor Felicia Marlene Else
Department: Art and Art History

Course Description:
What makes a city great? We will explore this question by looking at one of Europe’s greatest cities at the height of its power, Renaissance Florence. This class will be a stimulating introductory survey to the works of art and architecture that have made this city famous. But we will also look at the rich variety of interdisciplinary writings that have brought this culture to life. This period produced some of the most influential personalities of Western Civilization, from the Medici to Michelangelo to Machiavelli. Many issues still speak to us today—the principles of civic humanism, the tensions of political power in an early democratic Republic, the rise of the merchant class and the clash of religious devotion and material wealth. New research will provide us insights into the equally important roles of gender, sexuality and social class. From high art to street culture, from frescoes to fashion, from public to private—we will get to know this city inside and out. Not only will we read the words of the Florentines themselves, but we will look at scholarly studies and popular novels inspired by their lives. There will be a special focus on promoting the study of Italian art and culture beyond the classroom, both in the form of a field trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and with guest speakers related to Off-Campus Studies.