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Fusta Scholarship Essay

"Cosimo I de' Medici's Ghetto: Reconstructing a Lost Jewish Space"

Meet Medici Archive scholars Alessio Assonitis, Gabriele Mancuso, and Lorenzo Vigotti, who have digitized the documents pertaining to the establishment and preservation of the ghetto. Learn about how they’ve mapped the area and reconstructed the exterior and interior of some buildings in Florence, Italy. Wed. 2.21.18 @ 4:30pm Rutgers Academic Building, 15 Seminary Place, Room 1170. The event is free and open to all.

Alessio Assonitis, Director of the Medici Archive Project since 2009, was born and and schooled in Rome and received his doctoral degree in Renaissance art history from Columbia University in 2003. He has published extensively on the Italian Renaissance, including a monograph on the fifteenth-century painter Bastiano Marinardi (IMA, 2011) and a collection of essays on the history of the Medici archive (Brepols, 2017). He has received fellowships from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Allen Whitehall Clowes Foundation, and Florence Gould Foundation. He served as Principal Investigator for digital projects supported by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, including BIA (2010-2012; 2013-2014) and MIA (2015-2017; 2017-2019). His edited volume on the life and career of Grand Duke Cosimo I is due out in the fall, published by Brill.

Piergabriele Mancuso (PhD, University College London) is the Director of the Eugene Grant Research Program on Jewish History and Culture in Early Modern Europe at the Medici Archive Project. Board member of Biet Venezia - Venice Centre for International Jewish Studies and member of several scholarly associations. His research interests include early medieval southern Italian Judaism, Jewish astronomical and astrological tradition, Hebrew and Latin paleography, Jewish music and ethnomusicology, seventeenth-to-nineteenth century Italian Jewry as well as Venetian history and European fraternalism.

Lorenzo Vigotti has a M.Arch. from the University of Florence on the Palazzo Datini in Prato and a M.Phil. from Columbia University, where he is currently working on his Ph.D. dissertation project on the origin of the Renaissance palace (1380-1440)  under the supervision of Prof. Benelli and Prof. Cole. He is currently associate professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Utah; he also taught seminars on Italian architecture, the architecture of New York and Florence, introductory courses on Western Art, and on the relationship between architecture and propaganda. As a trained architect, he worked in Florence in an architectural firm, focusing on structural problems and preservation issues in medieval and Renaissance architecture. His interests include cultural exchanges between Europe and Islam during the Renaissance. Since 2016, Lorenzo received a Kress Fellowship and joined Prof. Mancuso's Program on Jewish History and Culture in Early Modern Europe at the Medici Archive Project, where he is in charge of the study and architectural reconstruction of the now lost Florentine Ghetto during the Medici rule.


Course Description:

The Italian Renaissance was a period of revolutionary discoveries and exceptional artistic achievements that laid the foundation of Western secular culture. The purpose of this course is twofold. It will provide students with a fundamental knowledge of the cultural dynamics of Renaissance Italy through careful reading and discussion of works by Machiavelli, Castiglione, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Veronica Franco, and Artemisia Gentileschi. The course engages students, at the same time, in analyzing the hold Renaissance culture has placed in the popular imagination in the last half-century. To assess the resonance of Renaissance cultural models, students will explore cinema, graphic novels, advertising, and the performing arts. Films under discussion will include the historical The Profession of Arms (2001), the biographical dramas Artemisia (1997) and Dangerous Beauty (1998), and clips from the commercial blockbusters A Bronx Tale (1993), Hannibal (2001), and The Da Vinci Code (2006).

Learning Outcome Goals:

The course intends to provide students with a broad knowledge of key cultural, social, and gender issues during the Italian Renaissance through the lens of contemporary evocations of the period. Through in-depth reading of primary texts and critical essays, class discussions, and written assignments, students will develop essential analytical and critical skills applicable to diverse historical periods and cultural frameworks.

Departmental Goals II and III: Cultural Proficiency and Professional Preparation.

This course satisfies the Core Curriculum Learning Goal: AH (o and p).

Area of Inquiry C: Arts and Humanities

Goals o and p:

o. Examine critically theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and the cultural production related to the topics addressed.

p. Analyze arts and literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.

Required Readings:

Digital copies of the readings will be made available on SAKAI.

Course Requirements and Grade distribution:

The abilities defined in the learning goals will be assessed through oral and written activities.

Active class participation (10%); Students are expected to actively participate in class discussions.

One oral presentation (10%); Students are required to give a 10-minute presentation on a topic discussed with the instructor. Their performance will be evaluated according to their effectiveness in communicating as well as the thoroughness of their critical analysis of the subject.

One 4-page paper (25%); Students are required to analyze a literary or visual text, discussing at least three sources linked to their topic. They are expected to demonstrate the ability to address and communicate complex ideas in standard written Italian.

Midterm Exam (25%); The exam comprises two essay questions on the topics discussed in the first part of the course. It assesses each student’s ability to engage critically with the issues tackled in the course in relation to their historical, social, and cultural background as well as with the theoretical concepts expounded in the course.

Final Exam (30%); The exam comprises two essay questions on the topics discussed after the Midterm exam. It assesses each student’s progress in the ability to engage critically with the issues tackled in the course in relation to their historical, social, and cultural background as well as with the theoretical concepts expounded in the course.