Renaissance: What Sparks Cultural Innovation?
In around a century, the relatively small city of Florence, Italy, produced iconic works of art and scholarship, including Brunelleschi’s cathedral dome, Michelangelo’s David, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. 19th-Century Brooklyn and 20th-Century Harlem also witnessed cultural booms with lasting benefits. How and why? And, how might the dynamics of innovation in the past serve as models for cultural renewal today?
This course explores the ways that individual leadership, team-building, and patronage of culture on behalf of the common good can combine to enrich contemporary and future generations. Case-studies from Florence, Brooklyn, and Harlem indicate that the accumulation of wealth is not enough: a critical mass of citizens must share ideals of what makes for a great culture, and be willing to invest time, effort, and money in its realization. Learning from the past, how might we foster cultural innovation to transform our own society in ways that can leave a lasting legacy?
Faculty: Kenneth Gouwens, PhD, of UConn's Department of History, is a leading expert on the cultural history of the Italian Renaissance. An award-winning teacher and author, he has held fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Harvard University Center in Florence, and the American Academy in Rome.