13800 - Italian Literature in the Renaissance

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students are expected to acquire: a sound knowledge of a specific cultural context (the Italian Renaissance) through the reading of literary texts in an interdisciplinary perspective; the ability to analyse and interpret literary texts (in linguistic, rethorical and philological perspective)

Course contents

The course is divided in two parts: the first part will be dedicated to a discussion of the 'Renaissance' as a cultural context and historical category as well as to crucial themes and authors of the period, from the end of the XV Century to the end of the XVI Century. The themes that will be pointed out in this first part of the course will be:

  • The XV Century roots of the Renaissance;
  • The new places of the knowledge, the main characters, the new institutions: the print, the Academies, the courts, the Universities, the censorship;
  • The concept of imitation: imitatio/aemulatio;
  • The debate about language as example of relationship between classics and moderns;
  • The Petrarchism and its variations;
  • Storytelling ('novella') after Boccaccio's Decameron;
  • Courtly and behavioral treatises;
  • Political treatises;
  • Love treatises;
  • Epic poems from Ariosto to Tasso;
  • The rediscovery of Aristotele’s Poetica and the discussion above epic poem;
  • The Counter-Renaissance.

The second module will instead be dedicated to the deepening of a specific theme: "Dante between the 15th and early 16th centuries". The lessons intend to analyze the wide debate on the figure of Dante and his masterpiece in the early Renaissance - in particular in the century of Humanism which still speaks mainly Latin - and therefore in the mature Renaissance (first half of the sixteenth century), when the Comedy, together to the winning model of the Canzoniere, is at the center of the famous "language dispute". 

The course will begin on February 2, 2022. Lessons will be held on Wednesdays from 9 to 11, on Thursdays from 13 to 15 and on Fridays from 15 to 17. The classrooms will be communicated later.



For the first part of the course students are expected to know:


a The fundamental features of the history of Italian literature of the end of XV and all the XVI Century. Recommended texts:

G. Alfano, C. Gigante, E. Russo, Il Rinascimento, Roma, Salerno ed., 2016 (excluding the final "Schede", which are left to the student's curiosity)


G. Alfano - P. Italia - E. Russo - F. Tomasi, Profilo di letteratura italiana. Dalle origini a fine Ottocento, Milano, Mondadori, 2021, pp. 191-392


b Students are required to prepare at least one of the following books (at least two for non-attending students):

  1. Jacob Burckhardt,La civiltà del Rinascimento in Italia, Firenze, Sansoni, 2000;
  2. Eugenio Garin, La cultura del Rinascimento, Bari, Laterza, 1967;
  3. Gian Mario Anselmi, L'età dell'Umanesimo e del Rinascimento. Le radici italiane dell'Europa Moderna, Carocci, Roma, 2008 (capitoli 9-15);
  4. Nicola Gardini, Storia e maestri di un’idea italiana, Milano, Garzanti, 2019;
  5. Maiko Favaro, Ambiguità del petrarchismo. Un percorso fra trattati d'amore, lettere e templi di rime, Milano, FrancoAngeli, 2021 (available in Open Access).


c Full reading (unless otherwise indicated) of at least one of the following works (two for non-attending students):

- Poliziano, Stanze per la giostra (edited by F. Bausi: Manziana 1997; Utet 2006; Messina 2016);

- Bembo, Asolani (edited by C. Dilemmi, ed. Accademia della Crusca; edited by C. Dionisotti, ed. Utet o TEA) or Prose della volgar lingua (edited by C. Dionisotti, ed. Utet o TEA);

- Machiavelli, Il principe (edited by G. Pedullà, Donzelli 2013) + Ariosto, Satire, edited by E. Cavazzoni, Il Saggiatore, 2021;

- Ariosto, Orlando furioso, (10 cantos chosen by the student; edited by E. Bigi - C. Zampese, Bur, 2016);

- Guicciardini, Ricordi (edited by C. Varotti, Roma, Carocci, 2013);

- Castiglione, Il cortegiano (edited by A. Quondam, ed. Garzanti);

- Folengo, Baldus (edited by M. Chiesa, ed. Utet);

- Bandello, Novelle (si consiglia l’antologia curata da E. Menetti, Milano, Bur, 2011;

- Aretino, Sei giornate (Ragionamento-Dialogo, edited by  Bàrberi-Squarotti - Forno, Bur 1988; 2001)

- Tasso, Gerusalemme liberata (10 cantos chosen by the student; edited by F. Tomasi, Bur 2009)



Bibliography for attending students:

Eugenio Garin, Dante nel Rinascimento, «Rinascimento», s. II, 7 (1967), pp. 3-28

Davide Colombo, Dante “alter Homerus” nel Rinascimento, «Rivista di Letteratura Italiana», XXV/3 (2007), pp. 21-51 (pdf su Academia)

Francesco Bausi, Dante e i filologi. Landino e Poliziano di fronte alla “Commedia”, in Suggestioni e modelli danteschi tra Medioevo e Umanesimo. Atti del Convegno internazionale di Roma 22-24 ottobre 2018, pp. 315-353

Laurent Vallance, Dante nella polemica linquistica cinquecentesca, "Humanistica", 2014, pp. 143-187

Other material will be provided by the teacher during the lessons

Further bibliography mandatory for non-attending students:

Giuliano Tanturli, Il disprezzo per Dante da Petrarca al Bruni, "Rinascimento", 25, (1985), pp. 199-219

Gennaro Sasso, Dante, in Enciclopedia machiavelliana, 2014, disponibile online (https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/dante_%28Enciclopedia-machiavelliana%29/)

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons aimed at fully understanding the texts and discussing interpretative hypotheses with all the course participants.

Assessment methods

Oral exam consisting of a discussion (approx. 40-45 minutes) of both the general and the monographic section. Students are required to show the ability to discuss and interpret the assigned texts clearly and persuasively, relating them to their cultural context. Also the student's ability to express himself with clarity and language properties will be evaluated. The standard of oral expression will also be assessed.

  • The lack of ability to orientate itself in the literary panorama of Renaissance culture and to recognize the fundamental characteristics of the major texts of the late 15th and 16th centuries of the program will entail negative voting;
  • The student who will grasp the fundamental aspects of the works and authors proposed during the course and will recognize the fundamental questions and the salient features of the most important works of Renaissance literature and its protagonists will achieve a positive evaluation (vote: 25-28);
  • An in-depth knowledge of humanistic texts and literature will imply a very good (29-30) and even excellent (30L) evaluation. To achieve excellence, a complete understanding of all the topics covered is required, and also the firm possession of the literary chronology (the dates of the major works' output of the authors treated are important), the use of precise technical terminology (in the rhetorical domain) , philological-literary, etc .. eg: to know being able to say the precise literary genre to which the mentioned works belong, or to indicate the chronological range of composition in the case of very famous works, such as L'Orlando furioso or Il Cortegiano) and, moreover , a personal critical elaboration of the acquired contents.

Teaching tools

Projection of word, pdf and ppt files.

Office hours

See the website of Andrea Severi