Spring 2022 - HUM 340 D200

Great Cities in Their Time (4)

VENICE: Between East and West

Class Number: 7909

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 4140, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An exploration of the cultural and intellectual accomplishments of a specific city that achieved prominence in a particular time period, and had substantial impact and influence on human civilization. Examines the political, social, religious, and cultural factors that help to explain a city's significance and investigates the achievements of its citizens. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic. Breadth-Humanities.


Venice, the Serenissima, has fascinated its visitors for many centuries. The “city in the water” has been the home of numerous famous Medieval and Renaissance artists like Paolo Veneziano and the Bellini family, who, inspired by the city’s habitat and its colors gave life to the famous Venetian school of painting. When cardinal Bessarione arrived in Venice during the 15th century, impressed by its wealth and beauty, he characterized it as “quasi alterum Byzantium”, almost another Byzantium. In the course of the semester we will explore the multi-centennial history of Venice by examining the written and visual testimonies of Venetian cultural tradition. We will focus on the medieval and Renaissance period, during which Venice became an undisputed civic, artistic but also political model for the remaining Italian cities and beyond. We will analyze the art produced and imported in Venice, its urban structure and social stratification, the models of consumption of the citizens, as well as the ritual ceremonies that were established during this period. Finally, we will see the texts of some famous authors, from Shakespeare to Goethe, Ruskin, Mann, Hemingway, and Brodsky, who gave vivid portraits of Venice, each from a different perspective. The Venice Art Biennale and Cinema Festival still place Venice among the most culturally active cities in Europe.


  • Participation 10%
  • Weekly Summaries/Activities 15%
  • Paper Proposal and Annotated Bibliography 20%
  • Midterm 25%
  • Final Paper 30%



There is no textbook for this course. If you are looking for a textbook to purchase in order to get a more in-depth analysis of the material, I encourage you to buy Lane, Frederic Chapin. Venice, A Maritime Republic. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press, 1973.

All other sources will be made available on Canvas.

Canvas readings include:

Excerpts from fiction (e.g. Shakespeare, Ruskin, Mann, Brodsky, Calvino),

Articles and book chapters from social, cultural, and philosophical theory (e.g, Agamben, Scarpa, Settis),

Articles and book chapters on local art, history and visual culture (e.g. Demus, Crouzet-Pavan)

Film Screening:

R. Longhi, Vittore Carpaccio

F. Fellini, Casanova

L. Visconti, Death in Venice

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


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.