S1701 History of Venice (Italy core)

Pes Luca

Course description

Various things make Venice a place of particular interest: the fact that it was built on water and marshland; the way its inhabitants shaped the Lagoon and managed the environment; the relationship with Byzantium and the East; the way it became the capital of a merchant empire; its role as a center of the printing industry, art production and Humanism; its development into a city of pleasure; the sudden loss of independence; the 19th Century cultural myth of its death; its rebirth with the Risorgimento of Italy; the creation of a new urban order, from the industrial port of Marghera to the beach resort at the Lido; the great social transformations of the 1950’s-1970’s, leading to a 'Greater Venice' crisis; its tendency to become a ‘theme-park’; the way the city still presents an alternative notion of urban space.

The course covers all of these themes through interactive lectures and a wide use of multimedia sources (images, videos, music), with a view to providing a broad introduction to ways of looking at the history of this unique place. The main focus will be on the relationship between the environmental setting, the morphology of the city, and its social life and political institutions.

An additional lecture will be organized as part of the course schedule on May 10 afternoon, 5 pm, as introduction to the field trip to MOSE.


Students are expected to actively contribute to the class, through one oral presentation, and a final research paper, developing themes of personal interest, in agreement with the Professor. Topics can range from Literature to Economics, from Law to Cinema. Past themes have included: Venice and the Fourth Crusade, Venetian Courtesans, The Life of Casanova, The Bostonians in Venice, Fascist Architecture in Venice, Venice in the History of Mass Tourism.

Group work mixing nationalities will be encouraged. Research papers must include bibliographical references and notes. Oral presentations may be the outcome of a field work.

Students are also expected to study a text and discuss it individually with the professor. The aim of the discussion will also be to test student understanding of what said in class and their orientation in time and space.


Detailed information about the course, guidelines and useful materials will be available during the semester in the e-learning platform, which students will be asked to consult regularly, writing comments, when asked.