Spring 2024 - HUM 312W B100

Renaissance Studies (4)

Class Number: 5420

Delivery Method: Blended


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



A detailed interdisciplinary analysis of a selected topic, issue, or personality from the Italian and/or Northern Renaissance. Students with credit for HUM 312 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Love Literature of Renaissance Italy

What does it feel like to fall in love? What if the person you love doesn't love you back — or doesn't even know you exist? How do you heal a broken heart? And what do you do when your feelings clash with what society (or you yourself) thinks is "right"? In Renaissance Italy (c. 1300-1550), these and other questions lay at the heart (pun intended!) of a vast and rich literature on love. They inspired, in turn, a wealth of paintings and sculptures that helped to define this revolutionary period in the history of Western art. HUM 312-W gives you the chance to study, think about, and write about this culture of love in the Italian Renaissance. We'll read the celebrated works of literary giants: the ground-breaking poetry of Dante, a raucous comedy by Machiavelli, and short stories by Boccaccio that are so engaging that you'll keep reading them long after this course is over (guaranteed). We'll also listen to the lesser-known voices of Renaissance women, who added so much to contemporary conversations about romantic and familial love. Along the way, we'll explore themes of love in Renaissance music; and in each class, we'll bring at least one work of art into our discussion. No knowledge of Italian Renaissance history or literature is required to take, enjoy, and succeed in this course. All you need is an interest in love — and in writing as a way to explore it.


As a "W" course, HUM 312-W offers students an opportunity to learn and strengthen a wide range of essential and transferable writing skills. In particular, students will practice 

  • analyzing textual, visual, and material sources 
  • crafting arguments 
  • synthesizing a range of sources 
  • writing with an awareness of their audience  

All written assignments are designed to encourage creative as well as analytical approaches to studying, writing, and thinking about the love literature of Renaissance Italy.  


  • First Written Assignment 15%
  • Second Written Assignment 20%
  • Writing Portfolio 20%
  • Final Project 25%
  • Class Participation 20%


This course counts towards the Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies for students in a Global Humanities major or minor program.



Dante Alighieri, La Vita Nuova (Poems of Youth). Penguin Classics, 2004. 

Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron. Trans. G. H. Williams. Penguin Classics; 2nd revised edition, 2003. 

Niccolò Machiavelli, Mandragola. Waveland Press, 1981.

Note: these texts will be available for purchase at the SFU bookstore and on reserve at Bennett Library. All other readings will be available through Canvas. 


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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