Sex, Lies, and the Renaissance

Joseph Luzzi / Bard College

The word Renaissance conjures images of sun-drenched Italian piazzas, breathtaking painting and sculpture, and groundbreaking discoveries in the arts and sciences by giants like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Botticelli. Less known is the “hidden” Renaissance, the world of equally fascinating breakthroughs in our understanding of sex and gender, and of the brutal rise to power of families like the Medici, who mixed an obsession with political dominance with exquisite patronage of the arts. 

In this brand-new premium course, award-winning Italian scholar and teacher, Professor Joseph Luzzi of Bard College, will take participants on a whirlwind tour of the defining cultural moments of the Renaissance, including its most beloved works of art, like the Sistine Chapel and Florence’s Duomo, as well its breakthrough literary works, such as Machiavelli’s Prince and its all-too-modern take on the power of “lies” and deceit in the making of political power. Other artists and topics we will cover include: the stunning engineering achievements of Brunelleschi, the pioneering female painter Artemisia Gentileschi, the creation of the world’s first international financial empire by the Medici Bank, how Dante’s literary “ghost” haunted the great Renaissance writers, and much more.

Joseph Luzzi

Bard College

Joseph Luzzi (PhD, Yale) is Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, and he taught previously at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in The New York TimesTLSThe London Times, the GuardianChronicle of Higher Education, and on National Public Radio. Dr. Luzzi’s awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. He is the author of five books, including My Two Italies, and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love. Professor Luzzi recently created The Virtual Book Club: an international community of readers dedicated to exploring major literary works past and present. 

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