Course title: STS 102/History 14 Units: 5 Time: Monday and Wednesday, 11.00-12.30am Place: Building 160, Room 317 (map) Instructor: Michael John Gorman, tel. 3-6817, firstname.lastname@example.org Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 4-6pm (370-211, 723-6817).
by appointment (email@example.com).
Important note on readings:To access the readings in DjVu format,
you will need to download the DjVu plugin. The free download is at
The figure of Leonardo da Vinci has become emblematic
of creativity and innovation in Western culture. Every new technology
associates itself with Leonardo. Every image of the body recalls what
Leonardo saw when he tried to depict, dissect, and understand the
nature of humanity. Every artist aspires to be the next Leonardo.
Every entrepreneurial venture proclaims, as IBM recently did: "If
da Vinci were alive today, he'd be working with us."Why does
this Renaissance figure continue to fascinate us? What can we learn
about the intersections among science, technology and culture by studying
him? This class explores the world of the historical Leonardo, looking
at his range of interests and accomplishments in such fields as engineering,
painting, architecture, physics, geology, anatomy, and physiology.
We will ask ourselves what Leonardo actually knew, how he acquired
that knowledge, and where it stood in relation to the activities of
other creators and innovators in the late fourteenth through early
sixteenth centuries and their legacy for later societies. Fundamentally
this course explores the relationship between the society of Renaissance
Italy and the work of the man from Vinci: why did this world produce
a Leonardo?We will also consider the persistence of the Renaissance
in our times by examining the emergence and multiple reinventions
of the "myth of Leonardo." This course is designed both
for students interested in the history of science and technology and
for students interested in the history and art of Renaissance Italy.
Week One: The Problem of Leonardo
September 25: Leonardo: Scientist, Artist or Engineer? Readings: Leonardo, Notebooks, I, pp. 11-13 (#1-8);
Turner, Inventing Leonardo, pp. 3-52
Week Two: Building the World
September 30: The Society of Renaissance Italy October 2: Dreaming of Building
Readings: King, Brunelleschis Dome; Leonardo, Notebooks,
II, pp. 41- 65, 77-99
Week Three: Seeing the World
October 7: The World in a Box
October 9: The Painters Eye Readings: Alberti, On Painting , pp. 33-96; Baxandall,
Painting, pp. 29- 108
Eye" (DjVu version, PDF
Week Four: Living, Working and Thinking
October 14: Becoming a Painter and Looking for Work
October 16: "Man without Letters" Readings: Baxandall, Painting, pp. 1-27, 109-153
Leonardo, Notebooks, I, pp. 13(#9)-65, 241-332; II, pp. 1-24,
FILM (time and place to be announced) "Ginevra's
Week Eight: The Science of Power
November 11: The Politics of Built Things
November 13: Leonardos Ideal City Readings: Masters, Fortune is a River, pp. 1-21, 75-147,
Leonardo, Notebooks, II, pp. 27-37, 223- 270
*Garin, "The Ideal City"
Week Nine: The Legacy of Leonardo
November 18: The Leonardo Myth
November 20: Project work Readings: Turner, Inventing Leonardo, pp. 53-149; Freud,
Leonardo da Vinci
*Pedretti, "The Angel
in the Flesh"
Philosophy of the course
This class is designed to provoke, inspire and (as Leonardo did) occasionally
frustrate and exasperate. It should make you want to build, draw,
dissect or invent something. And that is exactly what you will do
with your group project. We will discuss the process of organizing
teams for these projects early in the quarter but this is your opportunity
to create something from Leonardo, perhaps realize one of his unfinished
fantasies or give us a deeper understanding of a particular idea he
had about the natural and built world or help us to look more closely
at a specific visual insight that he produced.
All students will be required to write one five-page paper (30%);
one final paper of 10 pages (30%), attend class regularly and participate
in discussion(20%); and carry out a final group project (20%) by the
end of the quarter.