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From Renaissance to World Culture


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The Italian Renaissance / Early Modern

From the Renaissance to the World   The Italian Renaissance straddles two distinct periods in world culture. In the pre-modern world, the globe was a distinctly multicultural place with clear cultural and geographical regions. In some cases, such as North America, a multitude of cultures were thriving with almost no contact with other global cultures. The voyages of European discovery, which begin in the mid-fifteenth century and continue all through the High Renaissance, changed the face of global culture forever. The spread of European culture and technology all over the globe led to cultural, economic, and social crises all over the globe with often disastrous consequences.
   With the Renaissance, then, we are at the start of the globalization of Western culture—this globalization, however, was a two-way street. We're at a unique point, then, in understanding the mechanics of the intercultural experience which was to define the human experience in the modern world.
   In this assignment, I want you to define the European perspective in relation to the impending intercultural world, the world that was just dawning on the horizon in the Italian Renaissance. The middle ages in Europe was largely a transition period from a multicultural Europe to a monocultural Europe; it was, as you have learned, largely about the "discovery" of Europe. The Italian Renaissance represents the fullest development of the "idea" of Europe, Europeans, and European culture—it is this perspective that will collide with other cultures around the world.
   I want you to define how the culture of the Italian Renaissance would understand or view non-European cultures. In order to answer this question, I want you to focus on one and only one non-Western culture that we've studied in this course and define, using a specific text, idea, or artifact from the material on the Renaissance, how the Europeans would understand one specific cultural practice in the non-Western culture you're dealing with.
   Your essay, then, will have a clearly stated thesis that defines how the Europeans will define and deal with the selected non-Western culture. You will write at least one paragraph explaining the Renaissance world view by focussing on any aspect of the Renaissance that you've studied:

Humanism

Neoplatonism

Visual Arts

Literature

Architecture

   You should use specific examples, i.e., rather than talking about Neoplatonism you should use your reading from Pico della Mirandola.
   Your second and third paragraphs should apply the details of your discussion of the Renaissance to similar practices in the non-Western culture you're dealing with, such as philosophy, religion, painting, literature, and so on. How would the culture of the Italian Renaissance understand those practices? What would they tolerate and understand? What would they not tolerate and why?

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