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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies

Renaissance Relevance: Italian Culture in Translation

Academic year 2020-21

The period we call the Italian Renaissance witnessed scientific, artistic and literary developments that helped shape early modern European culture and society. Many works of literature and art produced during that time still strike us as relevant today while names like Michelangelo, Leonardo and Lorenzo de’ Medici are more familiar to us now than those individuals could ever have anticipated. On this module, we study minor and major works of sixteenth-century Italian literature and art, anchoring them firmly in the times and places that produced them and exploring what they reveal of Italian Renaissance life. We go on to examine their afterlives in Italian and anglophone culture, looking at adaptations and translations that attested to and ensured their ongoing relevance both for Italians and non-Italians alike. On this basis, we explore those very processes of transmission and reanimation, working towards a rich and nuanced understanding of cultural translation itself.

Writers and artists whose work retains its relevance across time and space include Ludovico Ariosto, Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo Buonarotti, Baldassare Castiglione, Vittoria Colonna, Leonardo da Vinci, Moderata Fonte, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lorenzo De’ Medici, Angelo Poliziano, Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael).

Over half the module will be dedicated to the in-depth study of select works by individuals on this list; while the remainder will closely examine particular instances of their Italian and anglophone afterlives. These latter may include interlingual, intralingual and/or transmedial translations and adaptations.

The module will be assessed via a research proposal 1,500 words (25%) then a final project of 3,500 words (75%).


Dr Ita Mac Carthy, Room 233, Elvet Riverside II

Further details of pre-requisites, co-requisites, aims, contact hours and assessment.