The Florentine Renaissance

Richard Poss
Fridays 10AM - 12PM
February 2, 9, 16, 23, March 1, 15, 22, 29, April 5, and 12, 2024
Watch the video to learn more about this course

The Florentine Renaissance

Spring 2024
In Session
10AM - 12PM
February 2, 9, 16, 23, March 1, 15, 22, 29, April 5, and 12, 2024

Course Format: 



Main Campus



This humanities seminar (2-hour, 10-week) is an examination of the art, architecture, sculpture, literature and history of the republic of Florence during its period of greatest importance to world history. We will begin by examining the first glimmerings in the frescoes of Giotto, the literary works of Petrarch and Boccaccio, the sculptural work of Donatello and Ghiberti, and the architecture and engineering of Brunelleschi. We will study the dynamics of the court of Lorenzo de’Medici, including Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Botticelli.

As artistic experimentation with anatomy, musculature, and linear perspective accelerate throughout the 15th century, we examine Fra Angelico, Verrochio, Pollaiuolo, and others. We will follow the fortunes of the republic of Florence in its ups and downs, including the 1478 Pazzi Conspiracy, and the career of Savonarola.

Through these political upheavals the cultural expressions of Florence still triumph in the High Renaissance masterpieces of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. We will read Machiavelli’s Prince, and examine Mannerism in the work of Rosso Fiorentino, Parmigianino, Pontormo, and Bronzino.

Required Reading: 

  • Boccaccio, The Decameron: A Norton Critical Edition. Trans. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa, (Norton Critical Editions) Norton, 1977. ISBN – 0393091325
  • Richard Turner, Renaissance Florence: The Invention of a New Art (Perspectives Series) Pearson, 1997. ISBN – 0131344013
  • Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, Trans. J.C. Bondanella, and P. Bondanella. (Oxford Classics editions) Oxford University Press, USA, 2008. ISBN – 0199537194
  • Machiavelli, The Prince (Norton Critical Edition), Trans. Robert Adams, Norton, 2d edition, 1992. ISBN – 0393962202
  • Benvenuto Cellini, My Life, Trans. P. Bondanella, (Oxford Worlds Classics). 2009. ISBN – 0199555311

Meet Your Professor

Associate Professor
Department of Astronomy

Richard L Poss is an associate professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona, interested in the history of astronomy and relations between astronomy and culture. He teaches a variety of courses dealing with the intersection of astronomy with literature and the arts, and is a frequent contributor to the Humanities Seminars.

  • Ted and Shirley Taubeneck Superior Teaching Award


  • All classes will be delivered on-campus and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
  • On-Campus classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in-person classes is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. All students enrolled to attend in person also have complete online access and may choose to attend one or all class sessions remotely if desired.
  • Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real-time. A high-speed internet connection and a device capable of running Zoom are required to connect. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
  • Class Recordings - All HSP classes are recorded and available for every enrolled student to watch for the duration of the course and one month after the last class session. This option is offered to aid students who cannot attend the live class times but desire to enroll and participate asynchronously. We hope this option also aids students who are traveling or have a necessary appointment that conflicts with a class session to stay connected and engaged with the course material.


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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