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IT2500 Renaissance Transgressions (Aretino/Titian,Cellini/Michelangelo)

IT2500 Renaissance Transgressions (Aretino/Titian,Cellini/Michelangelo)

Terms 1-2

Convenor: Stefano Jossa


Oral presentation 30%; Essay 70%    (2,000-2,500 words)


The course will focus on two of the most relevant figures of the Italian Renaissance, Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) and Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571) in their relationships with the emerging book market and the fashioning of the artist at the time. Traditionally considered as icons of Anti-Classicism, Aretino and Cellini represent the transition of the intellectual professionals from the philosopher to the technician. Rather than being “the one who knows”, the artist becomes “the one who is able to do”. Strongly involved in the religious debate of the time, and aiming a more naturalistic approach to human life, the two authors will be studied in their novelty in terms of biography, works, ideas, language, and style. The course aims to introduce students to a relevant, but usually ignored, aspect of the Italian Renaissance, its multiple and contradictory nature.

The course will focus on a close reading of two exemplary texts: Aretino’s I Ragionamenti (Discussions, 1534-6) and Cellini’s Vita (Autobiography, 1558-71). Texts will be studied in their content, themes, genesis and links to aspects of Renaissance politics, culture and society. Particular attention will be paid to gender and political issues, as well as to the visual arts, including Aretino’s relationship with Titian and Cellini’s confrontation with Michelangelo.


    Primary Texts

Aretino, Pietro, The secret life of nuns, London : Hesperus, 2004.

Aretino, Pietro, The secret life of wives; foreword by Paul Bailey; translated by Andrew Brown, London : Hesperus, 2006.

Aretino, Pietro, The school of whoredom; translated by Rosa Maria Falvo, Alessandro Gallenzi and Rebecca Skipwith, London : Hesperus, 2003.

Cellini, Benvenuto, The autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, translated and with an introduction by George Bull, London : Penguin, 1998.


Waddington, Raymond B., Aretino’s satyr : sexuality, satire and self-projection in sixteenth-century literature and art, Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Gallucci, Margaret A., Benvenuto Cellini : sexuality, masculinity, and artistic identity in Renaissance Italy, New York ; Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.



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