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Module

HIS3352 : The Renaissance World of Machiavelli, 1450-1550

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Katie East
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

This Special Subject uses the works of one of the greatest minds in the history of political thought, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), to explore the political, intellectual, and cultural world of Renaissance Florence. Through the lens of Machiavelli’s political tracts, scholarship, plays, letters, and diplomatic texts, we will discover how various political, religious, and social issues informed his position, shaping the radical view he took of the world, a view which had an immense and lasting influence throughout Europe. We will encounter key figures of the period, such as Cesare Borgia, Caterina Sforza, Pope Alexander VI, Girolamo Savonarola, and members of the Medici family, and we will examine the tensions at work in Italy at this time, between city states and the Papacy, and with respect to external threats from France and the Holy Roman Empire. Florentine culture during the Renaissance will also be studied, particularly the importance of humanism, the arrival of print, the role of the genders, and the occupation with questions of morality.

Students will engage with a rich and active historiographical tradition, in which debates concerning the character of Machiavelli, his aims and beliefs, and his ultimate importance, will be confronted different approaches which instead of placing Machiavelli from front and centre broaden that focus to consider the world within which he moved. Students will also engage with a diverse array of sources, encompassing not only Machiavelli’s written works of numerous genres, but also works by his contemporaries, examples of print and scholarship, and images drawn from the rich offerings of Renaissance Florence.

Outline Of Syllabus

Each seminar will address a different theme, approached in the first place through Machiavelli, then broadened in order to interrogate his perspective, and determine the forces which informed it. Topics covered during this module will include:
• Citizenship and living in a civic society
• Political Power
• Religion
• Gender and morality
• The function of war
• Renaissance Humanism and Print Culture
• The afterlife of Machiavelli

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00Assessment preparation
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials181:0018:00A combination of recorded lecture sessions and guided exercises engaging with sources
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading501:0050:00Set, recommended and further reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00Synchronous online seminars. Needs to be timetabled.
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities92:0018:00Individual and group reading and research exercises in preparaton for small group teaching
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion92:0018:00Weekly discussion board activities for each topic
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery91:009:00Synchronous online support for assessment
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study281:0028:00N/A
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The structured guided learning hours will combine short (c. 20 mins) pre-recorded lecture sessions explaining key context, concepts and historiographical issues with exercises intended to reinforce understanding through direct engagement with the sources discussed. These hours will be supported by discussion boards for each topic on the VLE. These activities will inform the structured research and reading activities, which will allow students to use the knowledge acquired through the learning materials to produce their own responses and ideas to the material. These ideas will then be presented and discussed in small group teaching, encouraging independent learning, discussion, and debate, while also guiding students on how to approach primary sources and historiography in a critical and effective manner.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M20500 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Written exercise1M201000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Essay1A602500 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The shorter written exercises will take place during the semester, and will focus on analysis of primary and secondary sources, allowing both the accumulation of understanding and a tool for tracking and informing student progress. The final essay will test both knowledge and understanding, and the students’ ability to synthesise and evaluate the themes studied during the module.

Reading Lists

Timetable