Italian 248 or Spanish 280: Decentering the early modern: utopian texts in the Atlantic world

Instructor: Professors Diego Pirillo and Ivonne del Valle

This course fulfills the Intellectual History or elective requirement for the DE in REMS.

Whether or not the Renaissance truly was “the first genuinely global movement in the history of ideas,” (Burke, Clossey, Fernández-Armesto, 2017) it is certain that the “global turn” in historical studies has transformed our understanding of this epoch in Western history marked by the recovery of classical antiquity. A growing body of scholarship reminds us of the many debts the Renaissance owed to the Mediterranean and the Islamic worlds while also examining the different ways in which Renaissance culture spread beyond Europe, and the responses it produced from Mexico to China. This scholarship also pays attention to Europe’s response to the challenges posed by other civilizations and religions. To decenter the early modern world this seminar moves beyond the rigid and traditional Eurocentric vision of the period by recovering the transfer of people, ideas, and knowledge that existed during the ‘first globalization’, especially as it materialized in the Atlantic world starting in 1492. 

The seminar will introduce students to the most recent historiographical and theoretical trends in the field of Renaissance and early modern/colonial studies that present alternative viewing positions from which to understand what this epoch meant for those living in it, and for the future. A strong component of the seminar will be early modern utopias (More, Quiroga, Bruno, Campanella, Sahagún, Bacon, Harrington, Winthrop, Penn and others), especially as they are carried out in the Americas, and in the desire to undo the many political and religious wrongs of the moment.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes