Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ITAL2131: Renaissance and Baroque in Image and Word

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian)

ITAL2131: Renaissance and Baroque in Image and Word

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap 30 Location Durham


  • Italian Language 1B (ITAL1102) OR Italian Language 1A (ITAL1071) or an equivalent to the satisfaction of the Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies of MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern Languages, Combined Honours and Joint and 'with' programmes: Italian Language 2B (ITAL2031) OR Italian Language 2A (ITAL2111). Others: see Chairman/woman of the Board of Studies or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • N/A


  • To introduce students to major works of Italian literature and art produced between 1450 and 1750.
  • To study key moments in the evolution of art during that period.
  • To study key literary genres, styles and themes and to develop student competence in reading and analysing both texts and images characterised as ‘Renaissance’ or ‘Baroque’.
  • To study the relationship between visual and verbal arts and to enhance student understanding of the productive exchange between writers and artists in early modern Italy.
  • To enhance students' knowledge of the Italian language and of Italian culture, to increase their cultural competence, and to reflect on the meaning of cultural competence as a component of individual subjectivity.
  • To show students that the ultimate goal of the Italian programme at Durham is to make them competent and independent interpreters of Italian culture in all its various manifestations and its consistency over time.


  • The meaning and broader significance of the keywords ‘Renaissance’ and ‘Baroque’ will be explored in their wide-ranging ramifications and subtle implications.
  • Keystone texts and images that left an indelible mark on Italian and European culture will be studied both independently and in correspondence with each other.
  • The development of the Italian vernacular during the early modern period will be explored in relation to relevant debates and literary works.
  • The literary works studied will vary following a regular updating of teaching material (and depending on course tutors) but are likely to include selections from seminal writers such as (e.g.) Lorenzo de’ Medici, Angelo Poliziano, Baldassare Castiglione, Vittoria Colonna, Tullia d’Aragona and so on.
  • The artworks studied will also vary following a regular updating of teaching material (and depending on the course tutors) but are likely to include images from major artists such as (e.g.) Alberti, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Artemisia Gentileschi and Caravaggio.
  • Relevant literary and artistic theories and methods will be deployed in the study of Renaissance and Baroque images and words.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Gain a sense of the historical, literary and artistic context of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque,
  • Become familiar with some of the literary and artistic products of the period,
  • Understand the work of writers and artists in the context of their literary and/or artistic genres and against the background of Italian early modern Italian society.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop reading skills to enable them to read early modern texts, as well as critical skills that will help them view and interpret early modern art.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should have extended considerably their critical perception of an extremely rich and highly diversified literary and artistic culture.
  • Should have an extended ability to gather, process and critically evaluate information and evidence from a wide variety of sources.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module is taught by means of a weekly lecture and fortnightly seminars in smaller groups.
  • Students will be encouraged to participate in class discussion, to contribute with seminar presentations and to work in close relationship with their peers. The learning environment will be supplemented by the use of Blackboard Learn Ultra, a software that will facilitate communication between students and teacher.
  • Students are required to attend all lectures and seminars and are expected to prepare themselves for classes and participate actively in discussions.
  • Independent learning will be encouraged by preparation for seminars and by research for the summative essays.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2,000 words 100% Yes
Component: Summative Essay 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2 2,500 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative work will include peer/question-driven discussions during seminars

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University