About this Course

 This is a cross-listed course! (You may choose to take it for one of two discipline credits.)

ENG 39995 Special Topics in Cultural Studies
(Repeatable for credit when topic varies) Study of selected topics in cultural studies organized around a particular mode or methodology of cultural analysis. Prerequisite: ENG 21011 or HONR 10297. 3.000 Credit hours

WMST 40195 Special Topics in Women’s Studies III
Repeated registration permitted when topic varies. Informed study of critical issues in women’s studies from an international or global perspective. Prerequisite: WMST 30000 or WMST 30001. 3.000 Credit hours

DESCRIPTION: Florence has long been a haven for British and American feminist discourse and debate over questions ranging from gender roles to sexuality, from anti-feminism and anti-anti-feminism to male-centricity and womansim. is course will explore the feminist debate through stories, plays, novels, autobiographies and lms—some composed by women and others composed by men, all composed in English by British, American, or Italian artists. e course will cover movements and genres from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the 18th – 21st centuries.

Unit One:
Boccacio and Chaucer and the Medieval Woman
Giovani Boccaccio’s influence on Geoffrey Chaucer (Boccaccio was an Italian Humanist from Florence and Chaucer visited Italy several times). We will also examine contemporary filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and his cinematic adaptations of works by these two medieval authors. The exploration will be of the medieval debate between anti-feminists and anti-anti-feminists—a debate that anticipates the founding of feminism during the Renaissance.

Unit Two:
The Birth of Feminism and Shakespeare & Zeffirelli and the Influence of Feminism
Italian Filmmakers’ fascination with English language works goes far beyond so-called “Spaghetti Westerns”. Franco Ze relli, who was raised by British Female ex-patriots in Florence, makes for a fascinating case study of British feminist and Shakespearean influences over this Italian’s aesthetics and ideas of womanhood. But the case is more complex than that: European feminism was founded in Renaissance England and Italy, and the ties to both Shakespeare and Zeffirelli’s works make for a fascinating study.

Unit Three:
Adoption and Adaptation—British Feminism and Womanhood in Florence
Armed with an appreciation for how feminism was both anticipated and developed in British- Florence works, this unit will focus upon how women were portrayed by both men and by women. It will note where feminism thrives, as well as where it is virtually non-existent. An appreciation for adaptation theory will enhance an understanding of how cultural perspectives of feminism are adapted into various media—or not adapted. The key question will be with regard to how a medium (a novel, a short story, a play/musical, or a film) adopts feminist or counter-feminist perspectives, as well as how that work is adapted into alternative media to either further or curb the adoption. Finally, this unit will consider the concepts of adoptions and adaptations in terms of Florence and feminism specifically.

Unit Four:
Contemporary Florence Feminist Discussions
This final unit continues the discourse over adoption and adaptation that is begun and developed in the previous unit. It concludes with an American adoption of Florence feminist adaptation: both the novel and the adapted film.

Required Texts and Films:

  • Several Works and/or Selections of Works Made Available Online (Free)
    • The Decameron (Giovani Boccaccio)
    • The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
    • Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
    • Taming of the Shrew (William Shakespeare)
    • Works by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    • The Light in the Piazza (Elizabeth Spencer)
  • The Birth of Feminism: Woman as Intellect in Renaissance Italy and England.  (Sarah Gwyneth Ross)
  •  A Room with a View. (Forster, Edward Morgan; we will also view the film adaptation.)
  •  A Tuscan Childhood.  (Kinta Beevor)
  •  Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love.  (Dava Sobel)
  • Mayes, Frances. Under the Tuscan Sun. (Frances Mayes; we will also view the film adaptation.)
  • Tea with Mussolini (A semi-autobiographical film by Franco Zeffirelli)