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HSY2025 - Beyond Machiavelli: Crisis and Renewal in Early Modern Italy

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Carolyn James


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


This unit will focus on Italy during the tumultuous period between 1490 and 1550 when foreign invasion and a Europe experiencing religious reformation, social revolution and dramatic overseas expansion precipitated major political, cultural and religious change. It will examine varying political systems in the small states of Italy, and the attempts by intellectuals to grapple with the new politics of what was to become the Italian and European ancien regime. Another key area of analysis will be the differences in cultural production which distinguished courtly societies from republican oligarchies in this age during which the High Renaissance style gave way to Mannerism.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Engage in critical discussion about the most important social, cultural and religious changes which occurred in Italy during the period.
  2. Understand the various political systems in Italy in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century.
  3. Identify different genres of texts circulating in the period.
  4. Engage in critical discussion of texts in relation to the urban context of early modern Italy and to speculate about the relationship between particular political systems and cultural production.
  5. Analyse the processes which underpinned the construction of particular texts.
  6. Suggest ways in which literary texts and works of art can be used as historical evidence.


Individual or group oral presentation (equivalent to 1,000 words): 15%
Research essay (2,500 words): 50%
Exam (1 hour equivalent to 1,000 words): 35%


A first year sequence in history (or with permission) or first year Italian