The Renaissance and Humanism have traditionally been regarded as a dramatic departure from the dark Middle Ages. The first to suggest this interpretation were Renaissance men themselves, and though today that image has been mitigated and corrected, it is undeniable that Renaissance was actually a period of profound change in values and ways of understanding. The rediscovery of the texts and cultural heritage of the ancient world forced Renaissance thinkers to reconsider many of their most traditional assets, while old authorities crumbled before the scrutiny of new methods of analyzing texts. This course will investigate Italian Renaissance and Humanism in a wider European context, focusing on authors such as Petrarch, Machiavelli, Leonardo, Erasmus, More, and Luther. The goal of the course is to give students a basic understanding of Italian Renaissance culture and literature, through exposure to a variety of texts, oral discussions, and written assignments. Material from the Rare Books Library will be used throughout the course. The course will be taught in English, though readings will also be available in Italian upon request.