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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Women and Power at the Italian Renaissance Court (PGHC11380)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPostgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology) Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionDid women have a Renaissance? This question, famously asked by Joan Kelly Gadol in the 1970s, is still debated today. Kelly Gadol concluded that opportunities for Italian renaissance noblewomen were severely restricted. Scholars since have added increased nuance to our understanding of the role of Renaissance women, looking, for instance, at women as patrons, writers, performers, and artists; as stateswomen; as religious women; as property owners; and as daughters, wives, mistresses, mothers, and widows. The lives of women such as Isabella d'Este, Lucrezia Borgia, and Caterina Sforza are becoming better understood.
This course offers advanced study of the agency of such women at the Italian Renaissance courts, examining their access to power and their means of exercising independence and control. Students will analyse, for example: the opportunities and challenges presented by different stages in a woman's life; differences in access to power across time and different court centres; various strategies of self-presentation including reputation, appearance, epistolary rhetoric and other writing, and patronage; as well as extreme means of advancement in the court environment, such as seduction or murder.
As this course examines women from a restricted section of society, students will consider how the experience of these women compared with those less privileged, as well as with those women from republics rather than court centres.
The course is organised by thematic sessions, each of which will interrogate secondary literature, engage with historiographical debates, and address different types of source material to consider key discussion questions. An interdisciplinary approach is encouraged. Evidence will be drawn from archival material in translation, including many of types of letters, as well as accounts, chronicles, works of material culture, art, music, and literature.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  12
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12, Online Activities 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
After successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
- demonstrate detailed knowledge of themes and issues surrounding women's access to, and exercise of, power at the Italian Renaissance court.
- show an understanding of the development of scholarship on the history of women in Renaissance Italy.
- exhibit critical engagement with secondary literature and make effective use of well-selected secondary sources.
- engage in advanced analysis of relevant primary sources.
- show experience of interdisciplinary study and research.
- independently identify and pursue research topics in this area, including showing bibliographical research skills in finding relevant further reading.
- arrive at independent, well-argued, well-documented and properly referenced conclusions in their coursework essay.
- display communication and collaborative skills, for instance in group discussion and with wikis or group essays.
- show professional skills in submitting timely and well-presented work.
- demonstrate an ability to reflect on reading and research undertaken and provide feedback for others.
Assessment Information
One 3,000 word essay.
Work will be submitted via Learn and marked using TurnitIn. Online versions of the postgraduate essay feedback form will be employed on the course.
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Week 1: [synchronous seminar]
- Did Women Have a Renaissance?: The historiography
- Introduction to Italian Renaissance gender roles: Virtue and virility

Week 2: [asynchronous forum seminar]
Courts and court ladies: Power, grace and sprezzatura

Week 3: [synchronous seminar]
Stateswomen: Rule, regency and diplomacy

Week 4: [asynchronous forum seminar]
Family, marriage, sex and motherhood

Week 5: [synchronous seminar]
Women's writing and education

Week 6: [asynchronous forum seminar]
Religion and power

Week 7: [synchronous seminar]
Money and property

Week 8: [asynchronous forum seminar]
Collecting and patronage of art

Week 9: [synchronous seminar]
Patronage of literature and music

Week 10: [asynchronous forum seminar]
Self-fashioning: Shopping, clothes and image

Week 11: [synchronous seminar]
Concluding session and review

Asynchronous forum discussions will include front-loaded screencasts or podcasts of short 10 minute lectures introducing the topics to be discussed over the course of the week's seminar. All primary source material discussed in both synchronous and asynchronous seminars will be provided electronically by the course organiser via Learn.

These contact hours will be supplemented by the course organiser's usual provision of two hours of Office Hours per week. During this time students can Skype the course organiser, in an extension of the usual 'open door' available to on-site students. Students may also contact the course organiser by Skype by appointment.
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list The following work will be provided to the students, paid for from their fees:

Panizza, Letizia, ed., Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society (Oxford, 2000).

There is an extensive bibliography for this course. The following are some examples of journal articles and e-books to be used (to be supplemented by selected material for e-reserve):

Bryce, Judith, 'Between friends? Two letters of Ippolita Sforza to Lorenzo de' Medici', Renaissance Studies, 21 (2007), 340-365.

Cartwright, Julia, Isabella d¿Este, 2 vols (London, 1903; New York, 1905) ¿ e-book.

Clough, Cecil H., 'Daughters and Wives of the Montefeltro: Outstanding Bluestockings of the Quattrocento', Renaissance Studies, 10 (1996), 31-55.

Cockram, Sarah, Isabella d¿Este and Francesco Gonzaga: Power Sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court (Aldershot, 2013) ¿ e-book.

Croizat, Yassana C., '"Living Dolls": François Ier Dresses His Women', Renaissance Quarterly, 60 (2007), 94-130.

D¿Elia, Anthony F., 'Marriage, Sexual Pleasure, and Learned Brides in the Wedding Orations of Fifteenth-Century Italy', Renaissance Quarterly, 55 (2002), 379-433.

de Vries, Joyce, 'Caterina Sforza's Portrait Medals: Power, Gender, and Representation in the Italian Renaissance Court', Woman's Art Journal, 24 (2003), 23-28.

Hickson, Sally Anne, Women, Art and Architectural Patronage in Renaissance Mantua (Women and Gender in the Early Modern World) (Aldershot, 2012) ¿ e-book.

San Juan, Rose Marie, 'The Court Lady's Dilemma: Isabella d'Este and Art Collecting in the Renaissance', Oxford Art Journal, 14 (1991), 67-78.

Swain, Elizabeth Ward, '"My excellent & most singular lord": marriage in a noble family of fifteenth-century Italy', Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 16 (1986), 171-195.

Tomas, Natalie, 'Alfonsina Orsini de' Medici and the "problem" of a female ruler in early sixteenth-century Florence', Renaissance Studies, 14 (2000), 70-90.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sarah Cockram
Course secretaryMrs Lindsay Scott
Tel: (0131 6)50 9948
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