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Cornell University    
  Feb 24, 2018
Courses of Study 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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ARTH 6440 - Constructing the Self in the 16th Century

Fall. 4 credits. Letter grades only.

Co-meets with ARTH 4440 /VISST 4440 .

C. Lazzaro.

This seminar examines issues of identity and self-fashioning in the 16th century in early modern Europe, especially Italy. The proliferation of courtesy manuals, most famous of them by Castiglione and Giovanni della Casa, instructed in “civility,” and reflected the concern with manners, appearance, and the ideal characteristics of grace and sprezzatura. In a period preoccupied with gender roles, social class distinctions, and political power, and dominated by courts and dynastic states, the boundaries of masculinity were a particular anxiety. The self could be fashioned or constructed in portraits, self-portraits, and autobiographies, as well as through clothing, bearing, gesture, manners, speech, and the display of material goods. The course also considers some of the public and private settings in which the social self was performed, among them banquets and studies. In a time of travel, the internationalism of consumer goods, and a fascination with distinctions in dress throughout the known world, identity was also negotiated between the familiar and the foreign.

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