An Early Modern Studies course being offered this spring gives students the opportunity to study on site in Florence, where they’ll immerse themselves in early modern art, literature and politics.
“I want students to live their education, to encounter works of art in person rather than on slides,” explains course instructor Dr. Jannette Vusich.
“It changes the way they think about how art interacted in peoples’ lives in that period [1280-1580]. What would that encounter have been like for an early modern person? How integrated was art in peoples’ lives? Students are literally walking in Dante’s footsteps.”
The full-credit course runs May 4 to 31, 2019 and is taught in Florence’s churches, palaces and museums rather than in a classroom. Students stay in the Casa Santo Nome di Gesù, a renovated pensione that was built in 1427.
Bronwen McKie was one of Jannette’s students in a previous offering of the course. “I love art for its aesthetic and philosophical value, but I also love art because it endures through time, shapes culture and enriches life,” Bronwen says. Now graduated from King’s, she’s pursuing a dual Master of Library and Information Studies and Master of Archival Studies at the University of British Columbia. “[Florence] was a big reason why I decided to get info the field of libraries and archives and why I’m interested in preservation and conservation.”
Jannette stresses that the course is not just for “A” students. Those who are struggling, she says, are welcome and they tend to do very well: “They can refocus because other distractions are eliminated. It rebuilds their confidence.” The course not only appeals to those enrolled in Early Modern Studies at King’s, but also other King’s, Dalhousie and university students. Curiosity, enthusiasm, and a great balance of independence and community spirit are the attributes that Jannette says serves student well in Florence.
Former student Lea Paas-Lang remembers using her Amici deli Uffizi entrance card (which is provided with enrolment) to take advantage of quiet early mornings at the gallery. “Standing alone in the Botticelli room felt like a dream. It was empty and silent. I finally had the space to wonder at the paintings with the focus they deserve.”
Students study the Renaissance where it all began, reading texts by Boccaccio, Dante, Machiavelli and Galileo. “I hope students come to realize how important material culture is to our understanding of ourselves and our history; that they learn to value it as much, in the same way, as they do texts,” Jannette says. They will visit such places as Brunelleschi’s Dome and the Medici Palace. “Students are always amazed not only by the scale of the city and its art, but also by the relationship between spaces and objects.”
Katie Buckley took the course and was so affected by it she continued taking art history courses at King’s and Dalhousie for the duration of her undergraduate degree, and now is pursuing a Master of Art History degree in Florence. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the EMSP program. And where I am today is pretty cool – everything in Florence is infused with history.”
There’s an information session for students wanting to learn more about the course on Thursday, Oct. 25. The deadline for applications is January 11, 2019.