So, one week into the semester and I have my first proper assignment. We had the first seminar portion of my Renaissance Florence class yesterday and I really loved it. We started by talking about generalizations and stereotypes of Renaissance Florence, anything we could think of. The Borgias television series (which I watched this summer and, frankly, thought was fun), caricatures of the Mona Lisa, Assassin’s Creed, etc. were all mentioned. And then we picked it apart. Why do we have so many pieces of cultural shorthand for Renaissance Italy but not for, say, 18th century Algeria? What is it about this period of history that draws our focus? It was a fantastic discussion.
We went on to discuss periodization and the problems it presented to us as historians and whether we wanted to consider “the Renaissance” a movement or a period of history. We were divided into groups for this debate, and along with the two guys in my class I argued for it being a movement. It was a fun debate to be had, to be sure, even if I’m sure I got a reputation as “that Medievalist girl” by the end of the session.
We went on in the seminar to choose a submission date for our final essays and then divided up our presentation topics. Our presentation topics are opportunities for us to lead discussion based on questions related to our readings each class, accompanied by a power point and a 750 word essay. I got my first choice of question, “Do you agree with Millard Meiss about changes in art after the Black Death?” but then the other one I wanted to do was snapped up by someone else in the class (“How do you explain the rise and fall of Savonarola in Florence?”) so I went for another art-related question: “How did patrons in Renaissance Florence use art to project their identity.”
Unfortunately, because our seminars are divided up by subject area and I chose two art questions, I’ll be doing my two presentations on the same day. This isn’t too bad, considering I don’t get particularly anxious about presentations (A captive audience for me to witter on about art at? Score!) but I also won’t get a chance between presentations to improve, really. I talked to my professor about it, though, and we agreed to meet up soon for me to go over my talking points so I can make the most of my presentations.
So, I’m going to get busy drafting those up today (my day off.) Who knows, they might also make an appearance on this blog.
Tomorrow: the Patriarchy, Sex, and Gender seminar.