Introducing the “Renaissance” in World Literature

I felt very good about the way EN203 went this afternoon–what a great way to start the new term! I’ve got a pretty full class, though a handful of folks were missing today, and about 7 or so students contributed something to the conversation. We discussed the syllabus, as per usual, and I went over the kinds of pieces we’d be reading, the kinds of projects and assignments on the docket, and some of the problems with the term “Renaissance” when dealing with world literature. Then we moved into the prezi I’d prepared–we only made it through a few frames, but I think the students were making sense of some of the central features of the period–we looked at a medieval Madonna and Child by Duccio, in comparison with Holbein’s The Ambassadors, to get a sense of how to identify some of the key shifts occurring during the early modern period: interiority, a focus on worldly matter and the details of the physical world, the struggle to define the relationship between the earthly and the spiritual, an attention to, why the arts were so visible. We also had an interesting tangent about sumptuary laws (and the beginnings of a discussion of Renaissance melancholy), so I’m eager to return to that next class period. Reminder: bring in a page image of sample sumptuary laws! We didn’t get to my planned experiment with crafting collaborative class policies, so I’ve got to email the class to ensure that they read and consider what’s on the table. Hopefully, next class we’ll be able to discuss and amend.

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