Your browser is no longer supported

To get the best experience, we suggest using a newer version of Internet Explorer/Edge, or using another supported browser such as Google Chrome.

Renaissance Studies is interdisciplinary in nature and comparative in approach, and brings together content and faculty from history, literary studies, philosophy, economics, and art history. As such, the program is made up of a diverse and welcoming group of faculty and students brought together by their interest in the period known as the Renaissance (~1350-1650). Though the Renaissance is popularly remembered as a period of great intellectual and cultural flourishing in Europe, it was also the period that saw the rise of European settler-colonialism, the Atlantic slave trade, witch crazes, and pseudo-scientific theories of racial hierarchy. Courses and faculty within the program encourage critical reflection on the complex legacies of the Renaissance as they relate to issues of the present day, promoting a rich historical understanding of inequity and exclusion as they have shaped institutions and culture from early modernity onwards. In light of this historically informed awareness, program faculty not only present a range of approaches and perspectives on the material taught, but also encourage students to bring their own diverse experiences and identities to bear on the interpretation of history and culture. Our program’s commitment to creating an equitable community based on mutual respect in a pluralistic context is reflected in our course designs, in the academic culture fostered by our staff and students, and in the regular extracurricular events sponsored by our faculty and our student union.

Renaissance Studies Courses with EDI-Related Content

VIC196H – Renaissance Queens

This course examines Renaissance queens and queenship by exploring historical and fictional queens and empresses. Topics may include the varied roles queens played within their societies, their relationship with religious and political institutions, the ways in which they negotiated sovereignty vis-a-vis the gender they embodied, and all the ways in which queens were celebrated, criticized, and imagined by artists, writers, and communities of their time and today. Discussion will delve into broad questions around identity and politics and feature a broad range of case studies from Europe to colonial America and beyond.

REN245 – Race and Power in the Renaissance (coming 2024)

This course explores the relationship between race, imperialism, and culture in the Renaissance world. Students investigate the intellectual frameworks through which early modern Europeans made sense of human diversity, with a focus on the enduring influence of these ideologies in the perception and representation of difference today. Course materials may include such examples as portraits of a Black duke in Renaissance Florence, trial records of falsely accused Jewish men, clothes to disguise oneself as an Ottoman princess, and plays featuring Roma fortune-tellers.

REN340H – Travel, Trade, and Difference in the Renaissance World (formerly The Global Renaissance)

The Renaissance is when the world became truly global. In this course, we examine how the production of stories, knowledge, and ideas was affected by early globalization. In particular, we explore cross-cultural encounters and exchanges established between early modern Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe along networks of trade, imperialistic expansion, and oppression. We will pay particular attention to how early globalization was shaped by power structures and by the intersection of race, class, religion, and gender.

REN342H – Women and Writing and the Renaissance

Focusing on writers from various geographical areas, the course examines a variety of texts by early modern women (for example, treatises, letters, and poetry) so as to explore the female experience in a literate society, with particular attention to how women constructed a gendered identity for themselves against the backdrop of the cultural debates of the time.

REN343H – Sex and Gender

An interdisciplinary approach to questions of gender and sexuality in early modern Europe, with special focus on the representations of the sexual drive, the gender roles of men and women, and varieties of sexual experience in the literature and art of the period.

Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies

The Renaissance Studies Program is closely associated with the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies. The CRRS is a research and teaching centre with a library devoted to the study of the period from approximately 1350 to 1700. The CRRS regularly hosts distinguished speakers, major conferences, and student workshops that reflect the expanding scope of scholarship on the early modern world. Recent events sponsored by the CRRS have considered the literary and cultural productions of early modern Latin America, Black lives in the Italian Renaissance, and the cross-cultural meanings of violence in early modernity. The CRRS also provides a welcoming study and event space for Renaissance Studies students, and offers limited part-time employment opportunities for undergraduates to support its programming, publications, and the Renaissance Studies student union (the Association of Renaissance Students.)

For a list of upcoming events sponsored by the CRRS, see here.

Last updated October 2023