At the peak of its Renaissance period, the Republic of Venice presented itself as the perfect embodiment of Plato’s and Aristotle’s classical republican model. At the same time, it reached a significant hegemonic position in the Western world measured both by hard (military and economic power) as well as soft (political philosophy and culture) standards of power. This course is conceived as a multidisciplinary reading and research seminar examining the complexity of the public sphere in the famous Italian city-state from the perspective of seven different disciplines—majors and minors that participate in this course.
In the course of the semester, students become familiar with basic historical facts and geographic features of Venice. Subsequently, they produce a series of short papers, present them at various points in the class and post them to their individual websites. The emphasis is on peer-to-peer learning. All students collaboratively work on the creation of this website, an aggregate of individual contribution of each participant. Finally, each student writes an individual research paper that explores in depth a particular issue that she/he “discovered” in the course of the semester. Such projects are presented to the class during finals week.