Laïcité and Secular Attitudes in France

by Nathalie Caron, Maître de conférence(associate professor) in American Civilization in the Department of English and American Studies at the Université de Paris 10-Nanterre

The American notion of “being secular” has no easy translation in the French language and context. Part of the difficulty stems from the ambivalence of the use of the term secular in the United States. Under the influence of politics and culture wars, the words “secular,” “secularist,” and “secularism” are undergoing a semantic shift that tends to narrow and polemicize their meanings. The situation has lately been exacerbated, possibly by the tragedy of 9/11, undoubtedly by the so-called “religion gap” that determined voting patterns in the 2004 elections, as well as by recent controversies over the nature of American identity in a changing social and political environment.

Laïcité and Secular Attitudes in France

Secularity in Great Britain

David Voas, Simon Research Fellow at the Cathy Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research, University of Manchester, England & Abby Day, Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex, UK

There is probably no common understanding of the term “secular” among ordinary people, or even among scholars. Britain is formally a religious country in a way that many modern states are not, having (different) established churches in England and Scotland. There is also a willingness to countenance religious involvement in the machinery of government: the Church of England is represented by a number of its bishops in the upper house of Parliament, and in 2000 the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords even recommended that other religions should be represented as well, increasing the number of religious seats. The Labour government under Tony Blair did not accept the proposed extension of religious representation, but neither did it suggest eliminating the bishops.

Secularity in Great Britain

The Sacred and the Profane in the Middle Ages

by John Eldevik, Ph.D, History Department, Pomona College

Catalogue Description

This course will attempt to understand and unravel the complex relationship between secular and sacred ideals of political and social order that characterized much of medieval intellectual discourse. We will examine the ways in which medieval jurists, theologians and religious dissenters reconciled notions of authority and order received from tradition and classical antiquity with the demands of divine revelation and the claims of the Church from the time of Augustine through the age of Conciliarism (ca. 300-1450).

Course Overview

Strictly speaking, “secularism” was an term coined in the nineteenth century. Yet the idea of defining a distinction between claims about life and society grounded in humanistic philosophies versus knowledge attained through divinely revealed texts or traditions is one that goes back to the Middle Ages. The Enlightenment was not an inevitability, but neither could it have taken place without the intellectual framework erected by medieval jurists and philosophers who grappled with the relationship between church and state, or, as they put it, regnum et sacerdotum – between priestly and royal authority in society. Out of this debate emerged the strains of thought – religious, historical and philosophical- that would eventually form the foundation of a modern idea of the political, that is, a sphere of thought and action based on empirical perceptions of the world and society and not beholden to revealed authority. The course will not attempt to locate the “origins” of secularism in any particular medieval discourse, but emphasize instead the enduring problem of authority and order and they ways in which those same questions resonate with us today in the form of debates over things like individual liberty versus the security of the state. Instead, medieval thinkers conceived of the universe and humanity as a single, divinely-ordered system, or body, but distinguished within it sacred and profane (rather than “secular”) spheres of authority, life and knowledge, and within those sacred and profane spheres, many nested orders of hierarchy. How those realms and their hierarchies related to each other within the body politic formed the crux of medieval political philosophy.

The three great monotheistic faiths that have shaped the Western tradition have all faced the same fundamental problem when it came to the question of civil governance and social order: is all government ordained by God, and thus to be structured according to Scriptural and hierocratic principles, or did God envision a dual system of governance for the world and his followers, namely a sacred and a profane? If so, were they equal, or did one have preeminence over the other? Is political organization, and by extension, civil government, a product of nature (Aristotle), or does it arise from divine providence, or merely the need to control evil in a fallen world? These questions were first articulated and debated in Christian antiquity, which inherited a complex metaphysical and tradition on one side from Hellenistic and Roman philosophy, and on the other from the Bible and patristic theology. Proceeding from the theopolitical synthesis presented in St. Augustine’s masterpiece, De civitate Dei, this course will trace the dialectic between hierocratic and royal/secular conceptions of political power and social authority across the medieval West, examining issues such as theories of kingship and divine rulership, ideologies of reform, social justice and political dissent in their historical contexts. The struggle to define the relationship between royal and papal authority will certainly occupy a central place in the syllabus, but we will also explore issues such as biblical exegesis and political theory, the Crusades, the formation of the ius commune (which blended canon and Roman legal traditions), as well as alternate systems of thought and dissent, particularly mysticism and popular theologies. An important part of the course will also consist of understanding the key contributions of Jewish and Islamic philosophy to Christian political philosophy in the Middle Ages.

Some of the key texts this course will utilize include the writings of St. Augustine, particularly The City of God, the Ten Books of History by Gregory of Tours, texts from the eleventh century reform movement and the Crusades, Peter Abelard, John of Salisbury, selected works by Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Thomas Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua, Dante, Bartolus of Sassoferato, William of Ockham and Lorenzo Valla.

Reading Schedule (by week) with possible texts

1. The Greco-Roman Tradition of Statecraft

  • Plato, Timaeus
  • Aristotle, Politics, Bks 1-4
  • Cicero, On Laws, Bk. 2

2. Religion & Politics in the Bible

  • I Samuel 8-31;
  • II Chronicles 1-9;
  • Romans 13

3. The Constantinian Revolution

  • Eusebius of Cesarea, Life of Constantine Roman Martyrology (selections)
  • Peter Brown, “The Rise of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity”

4. The Augustinian Synthesis

  • Augustine, Political Writings (selections)
  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Metaphysics, ch. 10
  • Al-Farabi, The Political Regime

5. The Politics of Holiness in the Dark Ages

  • Gildas, On the Ruin of the Britains
  • Gregory of Tours, Ten Books of History (selections)
  • Jonas of Bobbio, Life of St. Columbanus

6. Carolingian Thought

  • Readings from Agobard of Lyon, Einhard, Hrabanus Maurus and Hincmar of Rheims (ed. Dutton)
  • Mayke de Jong, “The Empire as Ecclesia: Hrabanus Maurus and Biblical Commentary for Rulers,” in Using the Past in the Early Middle Ages

7. Religion, War and Violence in the Age of Crusades

  • Adalbero of Laon, Poem for King Robert
  • Documents on the Peace of God (selections)
  • Gesta Francorum (selections)
  • Odo of Deuil, The Journey of Louis VII to the East (selections)
  • Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter to Pope Eugenius

8. Reform and Politics in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries

  • Texts on the Reform Movement & Investiture Controversy (ed. Miller) Maureen Miller, “Religion Makes a Difference”

9. The New Schools of the Twelfth Century and Political Theology

  • Peter Abelard, Christian Theology, Bk. II
  • John of Salisbury, Policraticus (selections)

10. The Iberian Masters

  • Avicenna, The Decisive Treatise (selections)
  • Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed (selections)
  • Isaac Abravanel, Biblical Commentaries (selections)

11. Aquinas and the Parisian Controversies

  • Thomas Aquinas, Selected readings

12. The Avignon Papacy and the Crisis of Church and State Part I: The Case for the Church

  • John of Paris
  • Giles of Rome
  • Bulls of Boniface VIII and John XXII
  • Donation of Constantine

13. The Crisis of Church and State Part II. The Case for the State

  • Marsilius of Padua
  • William of Ockham
  • Lorenzo Valla
  • Bartolus of Sassoferrato

14. The Politics of Faith and Popular Dissent

  • Arnold of Brescia (select texts)
  • John Wyclif Piers Plowman (selections, esp. Book VII)

Eighteenth-Century European Art and Architecture

Alden R. Gordon, Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of Art History and Chair of the Fine Arts Department

This course idea is based upon a desire to create a philosophical and historical framework that permits the understanding of the dramatic changes in the settings of daily living, the fine arts and architecture that is based in the Enlightenment’s empowerment of the individual. These philosophical ideas along with the associated new respect for empiricism, science and nature (human, organic and inanimate) found expression in a dramatic new emphasis on secular subject matter in art and in new departures in the planning of domestic space in architecture. As the century progressed and Enlightenment individualism made an impact on political philosophy and government, architecture responded with forms and historical quotations of style that expressed republican and democratic values.

The course, to be entitled Art and the Impact of Secularism on Eighteenth-Century Society, will explain how absolutist monarchs like Louis XIV and his successors authorized the creations of academies which sponsored the growth of the new ideas and promoted the professionalization of artistic and intellectual pursuits even though those ideas eventually undermined the authoritarian basis of absolute divine-right monarchy. Ranging from the style and subject matter of painting to the appropriate forms of decorative furnishings for intimate spaces in private residences, the course will contextualize the way secular genre subjects of everyday life were powerfully expressive of the shift in values from hierarchichal institutions of religion and state to the subversive realm of private emotion and the desire for individual happiness and fulfillment.

The course will make use of philosophical, scientific and literary readings along with first-person accounts and travel literature to amplify the issues in the realm of ideas which were also expressed visually and materially in the arts. Eventually, it is my goal to write an art history text book to accompany this course.
Syllabus for a Proposed Course

This is a survey course which aims to give a picture of the entire spectrum of architecture and of the fine and decorative arts in a full European cultural context. Students will learn about individual artists and architects in readings which will be done in parallel to the course lectures which will concentrate on overarching patterns of stylistic evolution and changes in usage brought about by shifts in social and economic conditions. All students will do an independent research project and term paper based on a single work of art that they can study at first hand or on a central text of the period.  Students who are able to read in a foreign language (French, Italian, German, Spanish or a Scandinavian or Central or Eastern-European language) may earn an extra half-credit by doing an additional
body of reading in the foreign language as part of the Languages Across the Curriculum program.

Texts: There is no single adequate text book for the broad sweep of European arts of the eighteenth century. The books which do exist are divided by nationality and by medium. Therefore, I am obliged to use several different books in which students will be assigned readings. All of these will be on Reserve in the Trinity College Library. Shorter essays will be available in a course reading packet (indicated in the syllabus by an asterisk *) which will be sold at cost in the Department of Fine Arts office. Students who wish to own the books may purchase them either at the Trinity College Bookstore or via
one of the on-line commercial book dealers. Any edition is acceptible, though I provide below the essential information for the latest editions including ISBN numbers for such ordering:

  1. Wend von Kalnein, Architecture in France in the Eighteenth Century, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1972, reissued 1995 (about $85) (0-300-06013-0)
  2. Michael Levey, Painting and Sculpture in France 1700-1789, New Haven, Yale Univ. Press, (paperback, Amazon new $35, used $17.95);  (0-3-0006494-2)
  3. John Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1993 (0-300-05886-1)
  4. Ellis Waterhouse, Painting in Britain: 1530-1790, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1953, 1994 (0-3-0005833-0)
  5. Michael Levey, Painting in Eighteenth-Century Venice, 1959. (0-3-0006057-2)
  6. Paul Hyland ed., The Enlightenment: A Sourcebook and Reader, New York, Routledge, 2003 [ISBN 0-415-20449-6 pap.]
For students without sufficient prior study of European history, it is recommended that you buy a standard history, such as Jeremy Black, Eighteenth-Century Europe in the History of Europe series in paperback, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2nd edition, 1999.

PART I: From Grandeur to Intimacy. Circa 1680 to circa 1745. FRANCE

Introduction and Overview. Historical perspective.
  1. John Locke, “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” (1690) from Paul Hyland ed., The Enlightenment: A Sourcebook and Reader, New York, Routledge, 2003 [ISBN 0-415-20449-6 pap.]

The Pre-eminence of France and the reordering of artistic leadership in the Late Reign of Louis XIV. The importance of the French arts institutions and their educational model. Palaces, Gardens and Interiors
and the Expression of  Power and Social Order
  1. Joan DeJean, “Introduction, Living Luxe” and “Fashion Queens” from The Essense of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion …, New York, Free Press, 2005. (Coursepack) and Reserve:
  2. Skim picture books on Open Reserve on Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte; Palais de Versailles; French Gardens;

France as a Model for Europe.
  1. Wend von Kalnein, Architecture in France in the Eighteenth Century, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1972, (text and also on reserve). Introduction and Part I, Chapter 4. 5: “Domestic Architecture in and outside Paris.”
  2. Michael Levey, Painting and Sculpture in France 1700-1789, New Haven and London, Yale Univ. Press, 1993, Chapter 2, Sculpture: Coustou to Slodtz.

The Importance of Paris. Urbanism, Residences for the newly wealthy and changes in manners.
  1. Rochelle Ziskin, The Place Vendôme: Architecture and Social Mobility in Eighteenth-Century Paris, Cambridge University Press, 1999. Chapters 2, “Social Representation and Gendered Realms” pp 34-64 & Chapter 5, “Not at all Monsieur Jourdain,” pp 114-127.

PART II: Art And The Expression Of The Subjective. 1715-1760

Interior Architecture, Painting, Sculpture and Stucco. The Great Itinerant Artists.
  1. Kalnein, Architecture in France in the Eighteenth Century, Part Two, Chapter 5 and 7
  2. Katie Scott, The Rococo Interior, New Haven, Yale Univ Press, 1995, Ch 7, “Earthly Paradise on the Left Bank,” pp 147-176 (Coursepack).

Country Life and Gardens and Sculpture.
  1. Mark Girouard, Life in the French Country House, Chapters 5 (The Curious History of the Salon) and 6 (In and around the Boudoir).

The Decorative Arts: Tapestry, Silver, Porcelain, Furniture, Small Sculpture, Musical and Scientific Instruments.  This topic will be continued from class into the museum visits.
  1. Carolyn Sergentson, Merchants and Luxury Markets: The Marchands Merciers of Eighteenth-Century Paris, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996, Chapter 4, “Importation and Imitation,” pp. 62-96. (Coursepack). LIBRARY OPEN RESERVE: Consult pictures in books on French furniture, porcelain and tapesty.

The Eclipse of Dutch Art and the Rise of French Painting and Sculpture. The Literary and Philosophical sources of the Enlightenment. The emergence of new or newly respectable genres in art and contrast to Academic hierarchies. French Painting and Engraving.
  1. Michael Levey, Painting and Sculpture in France 1700-1789, New Haven, …, Chapter 1 & 4 (Painting up to the Death of Boucher, 1770, sections on Boucher, Chardin, Greuze).

PART III: Italy, Austria, Germany.
Italy in the Eighteenth Century: Rome..
  1. Christopher A. M. Johns, “The Entrepôt of Europe: Rome in the Eighteenth Century,” from E. Bowren and J. Rishel eds., Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000, pp. 16-45 (Coursepack).
  2. John Pinto, “Architecture and Urbanism,” from E. Bowren and J. Rishel eds., Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000, pp. 112-121. (Coursepack) [TC Quarto N 6920 .A7 2000]
Rome as the Destination of Travelers:
  1. Per Bjurström, “Physiocratic Ideals and National Galleries,” from Per Bjurström, The Genesis of the Art Museum in the 18th Century, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 1993, pp. 28-60. (Coursepack)

The Importance of Travel and First Hand Experience. II. Italian Painting, Sculpture & Decorative Arts by Artistic Centers: Naples, Venice, Turin, Genoa, Florence.
  1. Michael Levey, Venetian Painting, (On Reserve)

Austria and the German States.
  1. Books on Meissen Porcelain; Splendor of Dresden.

Architecture and Interior Decor in England and the British Embrace of Continentalism.
  1. John Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1993, Chapter 17 (English Baroque: Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh, Archer); Chapter 20 (The Palladian Phase 1710-50: The Palladian Movement: Campbell, Burlington and Kent) and Chapter 23 (The House and the Street in the Eighteenth Century).

English Painting. Hogarth and Gainsborough to Wright of Derby.
Reading (On Reserve)
  1. Ellis Waterhouse, Painting in Britain: 1530-1790, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1953, 1994, Chapter 11 (Hogarth), Chapter 18 (Thomas Gainsborough).

PART V: Sublime, the Picturesque, National Antiquariansim and Historicism.

Historicism in Architecture and Decorative Arts.
  1. Summerson, Chapter 24 (Building in Gothic: From Wren to Walpole); Chapter 25 (Neo-Classicism and the Picturesque 1750-1830: Neo-Classicism and Britons Abroad); Chapter 26 (William Chambers and Robert Adam).

The Sublime and the Picturesque in Landscape Painting, Garden Design and in Art.
  1. Longinus, 1st C. AD, W. Rhys Roberts trans. Longinus: On the Sublime, Cambridge University Press, 1907, pp. 42-59, Sections 1- 8, and Section 36, pp.135-136, On Sublimity and Human Nature;
The English Garden: Its Sources in Baroque Landscape Painting and Its Impact on Later Art and Architecture.
  1. Waterhouse, Chapter 17 (Richard Wilson 1713-1782); Chapter 21(Wright of Derby and the Painters of Romantic Literature)
  1. Levey, Painting and Sculpture in France 1700-1789, Chapter 4 (Painting up to the Death of Boucher, 1770 section on landscape painter Vernet) & Chapter 6 (Painting up to the Salon of 1789, through section entitled Genre: Aubry and Boilly).
  2. The Psychological and Fantastic Dimension and the Transition to Romanticism: Fuseli, Stubbs, Goya

History Painting 1750-1789 in England and France:
  1. Waterhouse, Chapter 16 (Sir Joshua Reynolds); Chapter 19 (Foundation Members of the Royal Academy);
  2. Levey, Painting and Sculpture in France 1700-1789, Chapter 6 (Painting up to the Salon of 1789, Second part to end.)
  3. Andrew McClellan, The Museum and Its Public in Eighteenth-Century France,”
  4. Per Bjurström, The Genesis of the Art Museum in the 18th Century, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 1993, pp. 61-80 (Coursepack)

French Sculpture. Bouchardon, Caffiery & Falconet to Houdon.
  1. Levey, Painting and Sculpture in France 1700-1789, Chapters 3 & 5.

French Architecture from Soufflot to Ledoux.
  1. Kalnein, Architecture in France, Part Three, Early Neoclassicism. Note that interior styles are dealt with in the sections on “Decoration.”

Enlightenment & Romanticism in Italy

by John Alcorn, Assistant Professor of Italian Studies & Principal Lecturer in Modern Languages and Literature
Pedagogical Rationale
The course is designed as an introduction to cultural expressions of modern ideas of nature, human nature, and history in Italy.  Thus the keywords modernity, nature, human nature, and history will guide our discussions of particular works. (During our ISSSC seminar, I learned that modernity is a contested concept; therefore I approach this keyword in an open-minded, open-ended spirit and hope to clarify my thoughts along the way.) To sharpen the focus of our keywords, we will examine a variety of paired values: science and art, aristocratic and bourgeois values, the passions and the interests, religion and secularism, crime and punishment, and revolution and reaction.
We will make one detour beyond Italy in order to incorporate the French moralistes, whose insights into psychology complement Machiavelli’s innovations in strategy. Jointly, Machiavelli and the moralistes set the stage for the Enlightenment idea of methodological individualism, which will be a crux of this course.  Moreover, inclusion of the moralistes (who become mainstays of European culture) will enable students to grasp more fully the emergence of secularism in Italian culture.  As an ISSSC seminar participant aptly noted, the moralistes (perhaps unwittingly) secularize sin.
Although the seminar will concentrate on the keywords and paired values noted above, in what follows in this statement of pedagogical rationale I situate the course in relation to some themes that marked our ISSSC seminar about “Secularism and the Enlightenment.”  Throughout the seminar, I was struck by my colleagues’ emphasis upon
(a) the most elusive aspects of historical inquiry, namely, colligation and causal explanation and (b) the treatment of cultural expressions (paintings, poems, and so on) as dependent variables. I lack confidence in my abilities in these two areas.  Therefore below I try and sketch why in my course I will be cautious in colligation and in causal analysis, and why I will mainly treat cultural expressions as independent variables – analyzing the cognitive and aesthetic value of particular works and perhaps (tentatively) how they shaped history (reception).
I am grateful to my colleagues for sharing their approaches and tolerating my preoccupations.  The seminar has deepened my understanding of secularism, which will figure threrefore more fully than I had planned in my new course.
I. Problems of colligation of historical events into meaningful wholes
We will ask whether the Enlightenment and Romanticism can be understood as meaningful wholes; perhaps as periods or patterns.  We will consider arguments against colligation, made by William Blake and Jean-François Lyotard. Blake insists that “Art and science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars.”  Lyotard contends that colligation (“grand narrative”) misleads and oppresses; he favors micro-histories that remind us of the myriad individuality of history.  The seminar will strike a balance between concentration on the particularity of individual works and (cautious, tentative) identification of patterns and relations among works.
By reading (or beholding) a range of works from Leonardo to Leopardi, we will learn how ideas and periods criss-cross in received historical categories–as we find, for example, expressions of Enlightenment ideas of nature, human nature, and history in the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the Romantic period.
II. Problems of causation
We will compare and contrast the natural sciences (by reading Galileo) and the humanities (in the broad sense, including the arts and social sciences).  The natural sciences discover laws of nature by controlled experiment, isolation of variables, identification of primary qualities, and the like.  Prediction is essential to the natural sciences.
The humanities rely on the commonsense idea that we understand social phenomena by identifying (i) what individuals do (behaviors), (ii) why they do what they do (motivations and psychological mechanisms), and (iii) how their behaviors have unintended consequences (social mechanisms).  Prediction is anomalous in the humanities; as Adam Ferguson puts it, history is “the result of human action, not of human design.”  We will read groundbreaking works in methodological individualism by Machiavelli (strategy), de la Rochefoucauld (psychology), and Beccaria (deviance).
III. Arts and sciences: Problems of (i) priority among disciplines and (ii) commensurability across disciplines
Methodological individualism is incompatible with general causal theories of history. We will illustrate how innovation among disciplines does not conform to any general causal pattern or order of priority.  Leonardo illustrates how the visual arts and the natural sciences can be inseparably innovative.  Pietro Longhi illustrates how painting can shape theater (Goldoni). Erwin Panofsky (secondary source) explains how technological innovation can divorce science from art.  Leopardi illustrates how psychology and poetry can be inseparably innovative.  Manzoni illustrates how historical inquiry and the novel can be inseparably innovative.  And so on.
The course will explore twin problems of commensurability: (a) the fact that Enlightenment ideas or attitudes were, so to speak, “in the air,” shaping creativity and innovation across disciplines (and also across national cultures), and (b) the fact that works in any particular discipline cannot be (fully?) translated into other disciplines.
IV. Problems of affinity between Enlightenment and Secularism
The seminar will examine relations between Enlightenment attitudes and secularism.  The latter may be (a) institutional (separation of church and state) or (b) individual (making sense of life and the world without reference to God).
Italy, unlike England, the United State, and France, did not experience major constitution-making episodes involving institutional secularism until the Napoleonic wars and the Risorgimento.  Nonetheless we may examine institutional secularism through Galileo’s defence of science’s autonomy and Beccaria’s innovative approach to crime and punishment.
We will explore artistic expressions on the individual, psychological dimension of secularism.  A fascinating puzzle is why some innovators in methodological individualism–which makes sense of behavior and history without reference to God– are personally religious and others not. These matters will be studied in some depth by sustained comparison and contrast of Manzoni (religious psychology) and Leopardi (secular psychology).
Course description:
An introduction to cultural expressions of modern ideas of nature, human nature, and history in Italy. The course covers the period from the Scientific Revolution to Italy’s national revolution and concentrates on original works (primary sources) from the period. Topics include science and art, aristocratic and bourgeois values, the passions and the interests, religion and secularism, crime and punishment, and revolution and reaction.
We will study in depth two literary masterpieces: Alessandro Manzoni’s historical novel, The Betrothed, and Giacomo Leopardi’s collection of poems, Canti.
Authors and artists in other genres include Cesare Beccaria (politics), Carlo Goldoni (theater), Pietro Longhi (visual arts), and Giambattista Vico (philosophy).
We will begin with a few key short works – by Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Galileo, and the French moralistes François de la Rochefoucauld and Blaise Pascal – that provide foundations from the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.
Seminar format.  Enrollment is limited to 25 students.  Students majoring in Italian will meet separately for a supplementary session in Italian and will do coursework in Italian.
Course requirements:
  1. Four papers (one for each Part of the syllabus).
  2. Class participation, consisting in regular attendance, discussion, and two oral reports (one about a primary source, the other about a secondary source).  Oral reports should encapsulate the assignment and invite discussion.
Grade policy:
  1. The cumulative score is on a scale of 100 points and may be graded on a curve.
  2. Papers amount to 60% of the course grade.  Each paper is worth 15% (15 points available). Each paper should be five pages.  Papers are graded on five criteria: focus, integration of assigned materials, argument or analysis, evidence, and prose. Each criterion is graded on a 3-point scale. 3 points = excellent.  2 points = satisfactory. 1 point = poor.
  3. Class participation amounts to 40% of the course grade.  (The two oral reports are worth 15% each and discussion is worth 10%.)
  4. Penalties apply to students who miss more than three classes.

Purchase list. (All books are paperback):

  1. Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishments (Cambridge U. Press, 1995)
  2. Leonardo’s Notebooks (H. Anna Suh, ed., Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2005)
  3. Carlo Goldoni, The Coffee House (bilingual edition, Marsilio Classics, 1999)
  4. Giacomo Leopardi, Poems (translated by Arturo Vivante, Delphinium Press, 1988)
  5. Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (Cambridge U. Press, 1988)
  6. Alessandro Manzoni, The Betrothed: I Promessi Sposi (Penguin Classics, 1984)
  7. François de la Rochefoucauld, Collected Maxims and Other Reflections (bilingual edition, Oxford World’s Classics, 2007)
An asterisk denotes materials available online at course BlackBoard site
Part One: Foundations
Introduction to the course
Leonardo 1: Nature (Notebooks)
Leonardo 2: Human nature (Notebooks)
Machiavelli 1: Human nature The Prince, Skinner (1988)*
Machiavelli 2: History The Prince, Anderson (1974)*
Galileo: Nature  Letter to G. Duchess Christina*
Panofsky (1962)*
Rochefoucauld: Motivations Maxims
Rochefoucauld: Mechanisms Maxims, Elster (1999) 76-107*
Pascal: Rationality   Pascal’s Wager*, Elster (2003)*
Part Two: Beccaria, Goldoni, Longhi
Beccaria 1: Crime
Beccaria 2: Punishment
Beccaria 3: Deterrence
On Crimes … chs. 1-16 On Crimes… chs. 17-32
Duff (1999)* On Crimes … chs. 33-47
Vico: Human nature  Vico: History
New Science selections TBA
Bellamy (1995)* New Science selections TBA
McCullagh (2008)*
Goldoni 1: Comedy
Goldoni 2: Social norms
Longhi The Coffee House The Coffee House
Sohm (1982)*
Images at ArtStor
Tiepolo, Canaletto,
Canova Images at ArtStor
Part Three: Manzoni, The Betrothed Chapters 1-6
McCullagh (1993)
Part four: Leopardi, Canti
InfinityFirst LoveTo Silvia
Timpanaro (1979)*
Alcorn (2008b)*
SaturdayNight SongMemories
Alcorn (2008a)*
Alcorn (1996)*
Wild Broom Review
Alcorn & Del Puppo (1994)*
Bibliography of secondary sources
  • Alcorn (1996).  John Alcorn, “Giacomo Leopardi’s Art and Science of Emotion in Memory and Anticipation,” MLN 111:1 (January 1996) 89-122.
  • Alcorn (2008a).  John Alcorn, “The Search for Meaning without God in Giacomo Leopardi’s Canto Notturno,” Secularism and the Enlightenment
  • Alcorn (2008b). John Alcorn, “Giacomo Leopardi–Poet of Unspoken, Unrequited Love,” MS (2008).
  • Alcorn & Del Puppo (1994).  John Alcorn & Dario Del Puppo, “Giacomo Leopardi’s La ginestra as Social Art,” MLR 89:4 (October 1994) 865-88.
  • Anderson (1974). Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (New Left Books, 1974) 143-72.
  • Bellamy (1995).  Richard Bellamy, “Introduction,” in Beccaria: On Crimes and Punishments, edited by Richard Bellamy (Cambridge U. Press, 1995) ix-xxx.
  • Duff (1999).  R. A. Duff, “Punishment, Communication, and Community,” in Punishment and Political Theory, edited by M. Matravers (Hart Publishing, 1999) 48-68.
  • Elster (1999). Jon Elster, Alchemies of the
    Mind (Cambridge U. Press, 1999) 76-107.
  • Elster (2003). Jon Elster, “Pascal and Decision Theory,” in Cambridge Companion to Pascal, edited by Nicholas Hammond (Cambridge U. Press, 2003) 53-74.
  • McCullagh (1993).  C. Behan McCullagh, “Truth and Metaphor in History,” Clio 23:1 (1993) 23-49.
  • McCullagh (2008).  C. Behan McCullagh, “The Lessons of History: Generalizations, Traditions, and Inspirations,” MS (2008).
  • Skinner (1988).  Quentin Skinner & Richard Price, “Introduction,” in Machiavelli: The Prince, edited by Quentin Skinner and Richard Price (Cambridge U. Press, 1988) ix-xxiv.
  • Sohm (1982).  Philip L. Sohm, “Pietro Longhi and Carlo Goldoni: Relations between Painting and Theater,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 45:3 (1982) 256-73.
  • Timpanaro (1979).  Sebastiano Timpanaro, “The Pessimistic Materialism of Giacomo Leopardi,” New Left Review 1: 116 (July-August 1979).