Honors 355 – 2014
Instructor: Dr. Lucia Binotti, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Technical support: Digital Innovation Lab, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rome now is one of the grandest cities in the world. Millions of pilgrims and tourists come every year to admire, and be awed by, its treasures of architecture, art, and history. But it was not always this way. By the fourteenth century, the great ancient city had dwindled to a miserable village. Perhaps 20,000 people clung to the ruins despite the ravages of disease and robber barons. Popes and cardinals had fled to Avignon in southern France. Rome was dwarfed in wealth and power by the great commercial cities and territorial states farther north, from Florence to Venice. In the Renaissance, however, the popes returned to the See of Saint Peter. Popes and cardinals straightened streets, raised bridges across the Tiber, provided hospitals, fountains, and new churches for the public and splendid palaces and gardens for themselves. They drew on all the riches of Renaissance art and architecture to adorn the urban fabric, which they saw as a tangible proof of the power and glory of the church. And they attracted pilgrims from all of Christian Europe, whose alms and living expenses made the city rich once more. The papal curia — the central administration of the church — became one of the most efficient governments in Europe. Michelangelo and Raphael, Castiglione and Cellini, Giuliano da Sangallo and Domenico Fontana lived and worked in Rome. Architecture, painting, music, and literature flourished. Papal efforts to make Rome the center of a normal Renaissance state, one that could wield military as well as spiritual power, eventually failed, but Rome remained a center of creativity in art and thought until deep into the seventeenth century.

Using the entire city as our interpretative canvas, in this course we will explore the series of social, political and cultural responses to the intellectual trends that for almost three hundred years were at the heart of major developments in literature, the arts, the sciences, religion, and government, an encompassing historical phenomenon commonly known as The Renaissance.