Semester: Fall 2014 Course Title: Behavior of the Rich and Powerful: Past and Present Course and Section Number

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Semester: Fall 2014

Course Title: Behavior of the Rich and Powerful: Past and Present

Course and Section Number: Honors Seminar: HONR 218K (0101)

Professor: Dr. Giuseppe Falvo

Office: JMZ 3103

Office Hours: MWF 1:00-1:50PM

Telephone: Ext. 5-4031


Class Meetings: MW 2:00-3:15 PM JMZ 2125

Pre- or co-requisites: None

General Education: DSHU

ELMS Site or Course Webpage:

Course Description:

What can we learn from observing and comparing the behavior of the rich and powerful of the past and present? In the political arena of these two worlds, does appearance matter more than truth?

The study of XV and XVI century courtesy literature can contribute to a better understanding of the Italian Renaissance, an era which is much closer to our contemporary world than we might initially think, especially in regard to the way political figures act in social situations and the image of themselves they present to others. During the Renaissance, the concern for personal appearance in its aesthetic and political forms became a fundamental aspect in the production of courtesy books. In this seminar, we will explore the ways in which Italian humanists, who often served as secretaries and advisors to princes throughout the courts of Italy, contributed with their knowledge to the formation and development of a theory of virtue that was most suitable to the political needs and aspirations of their patrons.
Course Goals:

In this class we will study in depth the culture that was created in Renaissance court society for the staging of power and magnificence of Italian princes. One of the primary aims of the course is to consider these important questions: how did the Italian humanists apply the art of rhetorical discourse to princely behavior and practice? What strategies of self-presentation did they advocate in the realm of public life? What did they consider effective in the display of princely majesty and magnificence? Are the princely modes of conduct of the Renaissance still relevant today?

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of the course:

  1. Students will become familiar with the literary genre of the specula principum (mirror of princes literature) of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

  2. Students will be able to analyze the content and ideology of the treatises belonging to the tradition of the specula principum and examine critically its codes of behavior and practice

  3. Students will be able to understand the culture associated with the class of the nobility of the past and relate its habits of behavior, ritual and ceremony to the material culture of the rich and powerful of the present

L. B. Alberti, On Painting (Penguin Books)

Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, trans. Charles Singleton (Norton Publishing Co.)

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (Norton Publishing Co.)

Giovanni Della Casa, Galateo, trans.K. Eisenbichler & K. R. Bartlett

Among other readings to be posted on CANVAS you will find the following selections:
From Cambridge Translations of Renaissance Philosophical Texts, ed. Jill Kraye:
Giovanni Pontano, On the Prince, trans. Nicholas Webb (Selections)
Giuniano Maio, On Majesty, trans. Nicholas Webb (Selections)
Il Platina (Bartolomeo Sacchi), On the Prince, trans. Nicholas Webb (Selections)
From Vittorino da Feltre And Other Humanist Educators, ed. W. H. Woodward:

Aneas Silvius Piccolomini: The Education of Boys (Selections)

Anthony F. D’Elia, “Weddings as Propaganda: Rhetoric and Court Culture” in The Renaissance of Marriage in Fifteenth Century Italy by Anthony F. D’Elia
Massimo Montanari, “To Each His Own” in The Culture of Food , trans. Carl Ipsen (Blackwell

Publishers, Oxford and Cambridge, 1994).


The abilities described in the “Learning Outcomes” will be assessed primarily through oral and written activities. For this reason, attendance and careful preparation for each class are essential. Unexcused absences may adversely affect the student’s final grade. Students will be asked to actively participate in class discussion and be prepared to answer questions posted by the instructor on Canvas as a reaction to the assigned readings and topics examined. These questions will be prepared by the instructor before each class in order to facilitate class discussion. In addition, students will be required to complete three written assignments on class discussion questions and assigned readings (including selections from supplementary material posted on Canvas) and do an oral presentation in Power Point (10-15min.) on a famous (rich and powerful) contemporary figure of his/her choice. Students have the option of turning their oral presentation into a final paper (8-10 pages) in which they are expected to engage critically with the issues tackled in the course. The final paper is designed to contribute to further stimulate one’s thinking and gain a deeper understanding of aristocratic society and its culture.

There will be a mid-term and a final exam. The final examination has already been scheduled by the University for Thursday, December 18, 1:30 – 3:30 PM. Please mark this date!

Course enrichments will include a lecture by a scholar specialized in Renaissance courtesy literature and a field trip to Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, DC, former residence of businesswoman, socialite, philanthropist and collector Marjorie Merriweather Post.


Final Exam 25%

Mid Term 20%

Written Assignments 15%

Oral Presentation 10%

Participation and class discussion 10%

Final Paper 20%

Grading scale: Participation scale:

100-98 = A+ 97-94 = A 93-90 = A- 2-3 absences (-15 points)

89-87 = B+ 86-84 = B 83-80 = B 4-5 absences (-25 points)

79-77 = C+ 76-74 = C 73-70 = C- 6-7 absences (-35 points)

69-67 = D+ 66-64 = D 63-60 = D- 8 and beyond (-50 points)

59 below = F

University Policies:

1. The University of Maryland values the diversity of its student body and is committed to providing a classroom atmosphere that encourages the equitable participation of all students regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Potential devaluation of students in the classroom that can occur by reference to demeaning stereotypes of any group and/or overlooking the contributions of a particular group to the topic under discussion is inappropriate. (See Statement on Classroom Climate,

2. Students with disabilities should contact the instructor at the beginning of the semester to discuss any accommodation for this course.

3. The University has approved a Code of Academic Integrity ( which prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without authorization, buying papers, facilitating academic dishonesty, submitting fraudulent documents, and forging signatures. Plagiarism policy: all quotations taken from other authors, including from the Internet, must be indicated by quotation marks and referenced. Paraphrasing must be referenced as well. The following University of Maryland Honor Pledge, approved by the University Senate, should be handwritten and signed on the front page of all papers, projects or other academic assignments submitted for evaluation in this course: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination."

4. As of fall 2012, the University has adopted adopt a new policy on plus/minus grading. The new edition of the Catalog reflects this policy that

1. Students must earn a grade of C or higher in each course counted toward a major, minor or certificate.

2. Students matriculating in fall 2012 or later must earn a cumulative GPA of 2.0 within the major (or minor or certificate) in order to graduate.
See detailed implementation plan for the new new policy on plus/minus grading:
5. Religious observance: Please inform your instructor of any intended absences for religious observance at least two weeks in advance.
6. Course evaluations are a part of the process by which the University of Maryland seeks to improve teaching and learning. Your participation in this official system is critical to the success of the process. All information submitted to CourseEvalUM is confidential. Instructors can only view group summaries of evaluations and cannot identify which submissions belong to which students.

7. Absences from class due to the illness of a student: (a) Students missing a single class due to illness must provide a self-signed note attesting to the date of illness. The note must also contain an acknowledgement by the student that the information is true and correct and that providing false information is prohibited under Code of Student Conduct. The student is also obligated to make a reasonable attempt to inform the instructor of his/her illness in advance. Note: A self-signed note does not apply to a Major Scheduled Grading Event such as previously scheduled exams, tests, quizzes, final and/or take-home exams as listed on the course syllabus or announced in class prior to the date of illness.

(b) Prolonged absence or illness preventing attendance from class requires written documentation from the Health Center and/or health care provider verifying dates of treatment and time(s) when student was unable to meet academic responsibilities.

8. This syllabus may be subject to change. Students will be notified in advance of important changes that could affect grading, assignments, etc.

9. Unless otherwise directed, students are expected to remain in the classroom for 15 minutes in the unlikely event that the instructor should not arrive on time. After 15 minutes, it may be assumed that class will not be held.


Sept. 3 Introduction: Classical rhetoric and the visual arts

Sept. 8-10 L. B. Alberti’ s Della Pittura (“On Painting”)

Sept. 15-17 The rhetoric of human conduct and the origins of sprezzatura

Giovanni Pontano: On the Prince (Selections)

Sept. 22-24 Giuniano Maio: On Majesty (Selections)

Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 Aneas Silvius Piccolomini: The Education of Boys (Selections)

Il Platina (Bartolomeo Sacchi): On the Prince (Selections)

Oct. 6-8 Humanist Historiography and the Politics of Virtue at the Court of Urbino: Baldesar Castiglione’s Epistle to Henry VII The Book of the Courtier (Selections from Book I)

Oct. 13-15 Baldesar Castiglione: The Book of the Courtier (Selections from Book II and III)

Oct. 20 Baldesar Castiglione: The Book of the Courtier (Selections from Book IV) Review for Midterm Examination

October 22 MIDTERM

Oct. 27-29 The Humanist Legacy and The Prince of Niccolò Machiavelli

Nature and Art in The Prince of Machiavelli

Nov. 3-5 Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince (Chap. I-XIV)

Nov. 10-12 Machiavelli: The Prince (Chap. XV-XXVI)

Nov. 17-19 Giovanni Della Casa and the Rules of Polite Behavior: Galateo (Chap. 1-14)

Nov. 24-26 Della Casa’s Galateo (Chap. 15-30)


Dec. 1-3 Rhetoric and Court Culture: the Este of Ferrara

Dec. 8-10 The Culture of Food and Fashion

Last Day of Class (Dec. 10) – Review for Final Exam

December 18 FINAL EXAMINATION (1:30-3:30 PM)

All final papers due on the day of the final exam!

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