Spring 2022 - HUM 311 D100

Italian Renaissance Humanism (4)

Class Number: 7209

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    BLU 10655, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



A study of the major writings, cultural milieu, and influence of the humanist movement of the Italian Renaissance. Breadth-Humanities.


Artists and their Intellectual World
The Italian Renaissance is a period well known for its revival of classical culture and for the related intellectual movement known as humanism. In this course, we’ll explore the impact of these cultural and intellectual transformations on one dimension of Renaissance society: the world of the artist. How and why did the artists of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy embrace the ideals of ancient Greece and Rome? In what way were Renaissance artists “intellectuals”? And how did these cultural shifts affect the artist’s social standing, training, and process of creation? To answer these questions, we’ll study the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and the poetry of Michelangelo. We’ll examine artists’ contracts, correspondence, and how-to manuals and the treatise on artistic theory that revolutionized Italian Renaissance art. We’ll explore how artists were both scientists and poets, and we’ll investigate how they used ancient mythology to communicate Christian themes. Throughout the course, we’ll study many of the iconic works of Renaissance art, but we’ll also consider the paintings, sculptures, and experiences of lesser-known artists, including several women. No background on the history or art of Renaissance Italy is required.


  • Participation 25%
  • Portfolio (of short written reflections/exercises) 30%
  • Short Paper 15%
  • Final Project 30%



Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting. Edited by Martin Kemp. Penguin Classics.  1991 ISBN: 9780140433319

Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style. 2nd edition. Oxford, 1988. ISBN: 978-0192821447

Copies of these books will be available at the SFU bookstore and on reserve at Bennett Library. Additional readings will be available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.