Renaissance Identity

Instructor: Helena Szepe

The exploration and redefinition of identity and selfhood has engaged much recent critical thought, and holds special resonance for scholars of the art still usually called ‘Renaissance’. Debate over whether to use the term ‘Early Modern,’ or even more recently, ‘early colonial,’ instead of ‘Renaissance’ points to transformations of the underlying premises for framing time periods, which have in large part been defined by notions of self and individuation. This course examines changing definitions of the Renaissance, with special attention to uncovering the assumptions about self and identity which underlie these definitions. This is a vast subject, and there will be a different focus each semester the course is taught. Past seminars have concentrated on examining notions of self in portraiture, self-portraiture, artist biography, and the social standing of artists; or on geographical and political factors in defining this area of study.

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