During the Renaissance, artists such as Leonardo da Vinci began to experiment with new visual techniques, theorists such as Machiavelli forwarded bold and new political ideas, and Italian merchants began to perfect an economy based on currency and trade. These developments helped end the Middle Ages and, in the long run, paved the way for the rise of secularism, individualism, mass communication, and capitalism – in short, the rise of modern society. Yet, as this course will reveal, there is more to the Renaissance than beautiful art and the beginnings of progress. Themes include the persistence of the “medieval”; princely and papal courts; gender and religion in everyday life; early printed books; politics and conspicuous consumption; European encounters with Islam; art and society; and the value of the idea of the Renaissance today. Offered intermittently.