Teaching and Researching the Renaissance

Dirk Jacobsz Vellert, School Room, woodcut, 1526. Image (c) British Museum

I’m officially back from two years’ research leave (courtesy of a Philip Leverhulme Prize). I can’t pretend that I didn’t find the time useful in finishing several book projects that have been ongoing for a while (as well as starting others), but like most academics I know, one of the reasons I wanted to do this job in the first place was to teach, and I have missed working with undergraduate students.

The research/teaching divide is a little false anyway; pulling together material for a course, dividing it up into separate weeks and choosing on significant themes (while necessarily discarding others) is exactly the kind of thing you have to do whilst writing a book. It seems to me a shame that thousands of renaissance studies courses are being taught internationally, but relatively few are accessible online. You can learn a lot from reading other people’s courses; as I’ve just found out reading a new course about early modern human/animal relationships by a friend and colleague, Sarah Cockram, and learnt huge amounts about an area that I would like to know more about, but wasn’t entirely sure how to get started with.

To that end, I’ve put my course materials online, using the wiki service offered by the University of Edinburgh. My new second semester course (“How to Make Italian Renaissance Art”) is very much a work in progress,  and will be filled in progressively during the next month or so. My first semester course (“The Renaissance Body”) is one that I’ve taught for a few years, (in fact it has been responsible for framing many of my research questions) but I made some extensive changes to it this summer after doing all the reading for my nudes book. My MSc options course, Medieval and Renaissance Italy: Texts, Objects and Practices, is taught onsite in Florence and Prato, in collaboration with History at Monash University, the website was written last year so that Australian students could easily access the course materials. I’ll be transferring this to Edinburgh University’s wiki pages this semester.

Of course, there’s bound to be gaps in my knowledge that will be exposed here – and in some way that’s the point of putting the courses on the web. I hope that if people know articles, books or websites that they think would help my students (and me), they’ll  let me know in the comments to this post.  If there’s any collection of online renaissance/early modern courses that would also be useful – and if not I’m happy to put together a page of links here if I get sent any. Collaboration can only be good for both research and teaching.

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