Winter 2008:  "Arts, Patrons, Courts in Early Modern Culture"

This course is a seminar devoted to exploring the role of private patrons, institutional patronage, and the commercial market-place in the production of works of music and art.  It is designed for graduate students interested in reading and writing about the patronage and production of music, the visual arts, architecture, and theater in the early modern period, as well as studying pieces of music and works of art. 

The course is open to scholars and performers. We will explore the role of individual patrons and institutional patronage, public and private, in early modern societies, through careful case-studies of patrons, producers, artists, and performers, male and female, in selected times and places. 

Our work seeks to better understand systems of production as well as the variability and complexity of relationships between patrons/producers and artists/composers/performers in Europe and Latin America in the period roughly 1500-1750. Our first set of readings will include groundbreaking patronage studies from our several disciplines, as well as readings concerned with methodology, theories of patronage and production, the economics of the arts, and the politics of the arts in early modern society. 

Following this initial period of general readings, the course will be organized around particular times and places (along with relevant musical, theatrical, and artistic repertories), with readings from successful case studies. Students will be introduced to and have the chance to work with various kinds of primary sources — archival documents (inventories, notarial documents, household accounts, private letters, etc.), printed texts, theatrical manuscripts, musical scores, images, and so on.  

Our understanding will be enriched by several guest presentations by MEMS faculty on their own case studies. Our work will focus on Florence (and possibly other Northern Italian centers), Rome, Naples, Versailles and Paris, Madrid, Lima, and London, with possible study of other sites, depending on student interest and linguistic preparation.