C LIT 361 A: Topics in Early Modern Literature

Spring 2022
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm / DEN 159
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
ITAL 354 A
Beatrice Arduini
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

C LIT 361 A: Topics in Early Modern Literature

Jointly offered with

ITAL 354 A: Travels, Migrations, and Exile:

Encounters with the Other in Textual and Digital Archives


Instructor: Dr. Beatrice Arduini (barduini@uw.edu)

Class meets: MW 1:30 - 3:20 PM DEN 159

Office Hours: By appointment in person (W 3:20-4:20) or via Zoom

Brief course description:

This course examines a variety of attitudes toward poverty in the Italian Middle Ages, from traditional 'negative' views of poverty as a disgrace, to the recognition of the value of poverty as 'unrecognized wealth' in the Christian tradition and its political implications, to the shame and humiliation associated with incarceration and slavery. In addition to gaining historical background on the 14th and 15th centuries, students will engage in a digital project exploring how to archive the literary and visual tradition associated with these themes.

It shows a man, Saint Francis of Assisi, placing a ring on the finger of Poverty. Another man, Jesus Christ, joins together the hands of the bride and the groom.

Marriage of St Francis to Lady Poverty. Detail of Giotto's frescoes on the vault of the presbytery of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy.

Learning objectives:

  • better understanding of defining moments of Italian history
  • deeper critical sensibility about cultural perception of society
  • profounder comprehension of the dialogue between faiths and the literary representations and mis-representations of the different and the unknown
  • stronger analytical and writing skills.

Required Books:

There are no required books for this course. All readings will be available on Canvas. If you choose to purchase Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, I recommend the translation by Allen Mandelbaum: all volumes Bantam Classics (Inferno 1980, Purgatorio 1982, and Paradiso 1984).  You can also find the Mandelbaum translation here (without endnotes) and here. For The DecameronGiovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella, Signet Classics, 2010 (with a new afterword by Teodolinda Barolini).

Websites (not an exhaustive list):

The Dante Society of America https://www.dantesociety.org/

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in our time

Dante Lab at Dartmouth College http://dantelab.dartmouth.edu

Dante's Library (Duke University) https://sites.duke.edu/danteslibrary/

Dante Alighieri Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Danteworlds (University of Texas at Austin) http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/

Dartmouth Dante Project (Dartmouth College) http://dantelab.dartmouth.edu/reader

Decameron Web (Brown University) https://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/dweb/

Digital Dante (Columbia University) http://digitaldante.columbia.edu/

Discover Dante (University of Leeds) https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/discover-dante/doc/inferno

Discovering Boccaccio manuscripts online https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2022/04/boccaccio.html

Mapping Dante (University of Pennsylvania) https://www.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=45210d6ae3a34a8992b4efba164b852c

Princeton Dante Project https://dante.princeton.edu/pdp/

Società dantesca italiana http://www.danteonline.it/english/home_ita.asp

The World of Dante (University of Virginia) http://www.worldofdante.org/

Course materials:

Selected cantos from Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno 1, 3, 6-7, 13, 17, 19, 27. Excerpts of Purgatory and Paradise cantos); Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron (Day 1, Story 1, and Day 2, Story 4); Giotto's Canzone of the Doctrine of Voluntary Poverty; Giotto's frescoes at the Scrovegni Chapel and the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi; excerpts from The Book of Margery Kempe and William Wager's Enough is as Good as a Feast; Visit at the Seattle Art Museum

Course requirements and grading:

15% Participation in class discussion and class activities

30% Annotations with Hypothesis

participate in the discussion and annotations of 4 sets of our reading assignments. Annotations may explain a term or concept in the text, and provide some context and comparisons with other readings

25% Paper (5-6 pages, double spaced, 1500-1700 words): 

propose one thematic grouping on the main theme of the class, using 3 to 5 items (texts, primary and secondary texts, artwork, visual and audio materials, such as YouTube videos, from premodern to contemporary times) from our class materials and from your own research. Situate each item in its historical context and describe its specific way of engaging your chosen theme. What similarities and differences exist among the items you selected? How does your proposed thematic grouping address one or more of the goals of the course?

30% Planning for an Omeka Museum Exhibit

In this assignment, you will transform the items and the thematic grouping you wrote your essay about for a museum exhibit, including an image and a descriptive “wall text” label. The items and theme for the paper should transfer over to the exhibit portion of the assignment. The theme you identify is intended to repeat across the two assignments, the paper and the building of the Omeka exhibit. Writing the descriptive “wall text” labels will generate new content and new items can be selected. Together, your individual pieces will make up an exhibition curated by our class. We will be talking about all the steps in more detail when we approach them with the UW digital librarians and you don't need any particular tech background to use Omeka.


the syllabus is going to be available on Canvas and may be changed at any time if necessary.
I will communicate changes to the schedule via Canvas.


Any use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated.


Anyone who wishes to contest a grade on a particular assignment or exam must consult his/her instructor within 7 days after the assignment was returned to them



This class will be conducted in-person. Students are expected to participate in class to fully benefit from course activities and meet the course’s learning objectives.  To protect their fellow students, faculty, and staff, students who feel ill or exhibit possible COVID symptoms should not come to class. In line with UW recommendations, I highly encourage wearing masks indoors during the first two weeks of spring quarter.

When absent, it is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor in advance (or as close to the class period as possible in the case of an unexpected absence), and to request appropriate make-up work as per policies established in the syllabus. What make-up work is possible, or how assignments or course grading might be modified to accommodate missed work, is the prerogative of the instructor. For chronic absences, the instructor may negotiate an incomplete grade after the 8th week, or recommend the student contact their academic adviser to consider a hardship withdrawal (known as a Registrar Drop).

If you test positive for COVID-19 or if you had close contact  with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should immediately contact the COVID-19 Response and Prevention Team at covidehc@uw.edu or 206.616.3344, and a public health professional will give you guidance to keep yourself and others safe based on your particular circumstances.

Academic Standards:

Students are expected to maintain a high standard of academic ethics, honesty and integrity. Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to: plagiarism, cheating, harassment, and disruptive or offensive behavior (see statement above), and will not be tolerated. Please refer to the University’s Student Conduct Code. Any student or situation found to be in violation of proper academic conduct will be addressed and potentially reported according to University policy.

Policy Regarding Student Concerns:

Please see your instructor, Beatrice Arduini at barduini@uw.edu about your concerns as soon as possible. If you are still not satisfied, you may contact Geoffrey Turnovsky, Chair, at gt2@uw.edu.

Access and Accommodations: 

Your experience in this class is important to us, and it is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. Disability Resources for Students (DRS) offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students experiencing a wide range of temporary and permanent disabilities and/or health conditions that may impact their ability to perform well in the classroom. These include but are not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts. If you are experiencing any such difficulties, please contact DRS as soon as possible. Once you have established accommodations, please submit them to your instructor at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs and success in this course.

Religious Accommodations: 

It is the policy of the University of Washington to reasonably accommodate student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities in accordance with Washington state law. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Faculty Syllabus Guidelines and Resources. Accommodations must be within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form

Other Resources: 

Facts and information regarding Winter quarter 2022 (Links to an external site.)

Novel coronavirus & COVID-19: facts and resources


Hall Health Center

The Counseling Center

UW Leadership Without Borders

The Q Center


Catalog Description:
Explores topics in literature and cultures of the early modern world (approximately 1400-1800) across national and regional cultures, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
May 18, 2024 - 3:06 pm