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European Renaissance I:
Reading for Entertainment

Discover a new perspective on European Renaissance culture by investigating a very common practice in early-modern society: reading as a form of entertainment

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CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Master's
  • PhD
Field of studies
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
13 November - 15 December 2023

This course will allow students to discover the contents (genres, topics, characters) and contexts (times, places, and modes of reading) of texts of entertainment. It will also show them how to distinguish between works of entertainment recommended for women and those actually read by female audiences, readings aimed at laymen and those for religious, the entertainment books aimed at education and training, of young people as well as princes, the best-sellers that circulated in early modern Europe, their physical aspects (format, paper, etc) and the price at which they were sold, the libraries in which they were stored and the routes they took to get from the printing press to the hands of their readers.

The course will also take into account the languages of entertainment readings, their translations as a vehicle for their European circulation, the relationship between writing and reading, and also the role of orality in the dissemination of stories and characters. This BIP adopts a transnational and comparative approach, exploring our key themes from a pan-European perspective and highlighting the consequences of cross-cultural exchanges between different European countries. The project aims thus to offer students a wide variety of critical and methodological approaches to early modern entertainment literature.

The course is organized by Sapienza Università di Roma, and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Aix-Marseille Université, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the University of Glasgow, the University of Lausanne.

Main topics addressed

  • Reading
  • Readers
  • Literature
  • Entertainment
  • Male and female audience
  • Best-sellers
  • Book market
  • Reception Studies
  • Translations Studies
  • Italian Studies
  • French Studies
  • Spanish Studies
  • English Studies
  • Renaissance Studies
  • Orality
  • Book Circulation
  • Book Collections

Learning outcomes

Students will study and interpret Renaissance culture by learning different methodologies and critical approaches to early modern texts. The project aims to offer students the opportunity to understand the audiences to which such texts were addressed, to recognize their different readers, and to think about social and gender differences and their impact on the writing and circulation of such works.

Dates: 13 November - 15 December 2023 Total workload: 92 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 3*
Location: Rome, Italy Language: English (B2), Italian (B2) 

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

The course will be held in both English and Italian.

Physical mobility

The face-to-face part will take place in Rome, Italy, from 11 to 15 December 2023, as it follows:


11 December 2023 

  • 9:00 CET - Welcome
  • 9:30-13:30 CET - Arianna Punzi (Sapienza Università di Roma), Lettori e lettrici di romanzi arturiani nell'Italia trecentesca [IT]
  • 11:30-13:30 CET - Shanti Graheli (University of Glasgow), Readers, Reading Practices and the Archaeology of the Book [EN]
  • 13:30-14:30 CET - Lunch


12 December 2023

  • 9:00-11:00 CET - Iolanda Plescia (Sapienza Università di Roma), Reading as Entertainment in Shakespeare [EN]
  • 11:00-13:00 CET - Francesco Lucioli (Sapienza Università di Roma), Between Entertainment and Criticism: Adaptations, Translations, Rewritings [EN]
  • 14:00-17:00 CET - Seminar with students’ presentations with Francesco Lucioli (Sapienza Università di Roma) and Ioannis Tsolkas (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)


13 December 2023

  • 9:00-11:00 CET - Paolo Falzone (Sapienza Università di Roma), Una lunga infedeltà. La canzone d’amore di Guido Cavalcanti e i suoi lettori dal XIV al XVI secolo [IT]
  • 11:00-13:00 CET - Luca Fiorentini (Sapienza Università di Roma), Difendere Dante dagli umanisti [IT]
  • 14:30-16:00 CET - Guided tour of the Special Collections of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Rome


14 December 2023

  • 9:00-11:00 CET - Ioannis Tsolkas (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), Dieci paradosse degli Accademici Intronati: Il ruolo delle donne e l’uguaglianza tra uomini e donne [IT]

  • 11:00-13:00 CET - Maiko Favaro (Sapienza Università di Roma), Leggere i Rerum vulgarium fragmenta di Petrarca nel Rinascimento [IT]

  • 14:00-17:00 CET - Seminar with students’ presentations with Francesco Lucioli (Sapienza Università di Roma) and Ioannis Tsolkas (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

15 December 2023

  • 9:00-11:00 CET - Chiara De Cesare (Università di Parma), Biographers, Readers/Collectors, and Publishers of Ariosto’s Satire and Cinque Canti (with a look at the documents) [EN]

  • 11:00-13:00 CET - Elisabetta Sarmati (Sapienza Università di Roma), Il Novecento rilegge i libri di cavalleria: Riprese e trasfigurazioni dei libri di cavalleria spagnoli (e del Quijote) di epoca moderna: AmadissigloXX [IT]

  • 13:00-14:30 CET - Conclusion and Lunch

Virtual part

The 3 virtual meetings will take place between 13-16 November: 

13 November 2023

  • 9:00-11:00 CET - Gabriele Bucchi (Universität Basel), La letteratura di larga circolazione: una zona d’incontro tra lettori colti e popolari [IT]
  • 11:00-13:00 CET - Lorenzo Bartoli (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Cervantes Reader of the Furioso [EN]

15 November 2023

  • 9:00-11:00 CET - Helena Sanson (University of Cambridge), Language and Women’s Readings in Early Modern Italy: Prescriptions and Practices [EN]
  • 11:00-13:00 CET - Sophie Berangere Singlard (Aix-Marseille Université), The Transmission of Knowledge in Vernacular in Early Modern Books: Readers and Practices of Knowledge in Early Modern Spain [EN]

16 November 2023

  • 9:00-11:00 CET - Raffaele Ruggiero (Aix-Marseille Université), Lettori di Erasmo: il successo involontario del Iulius [IT]
  • 11:00-13:00 CET Shanti Graheli (University of Glasgow), Readers of Popular Print in the Pre-Modern Age: A Comparative Perspective [EN]



This course is open to Master's and PhD students at CIVIS member universities enrolled in Early Modern European history and literature.

Participants should have a good level of written and spoken English and Italian (B2 level in both of them), critical thinking and text analysis, writing and presentation skills.

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 30 September 2023 with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV

Applications will be evaluated based on the relevance of the CV and of the Motivational letter.  Prerequisites, interest in the topic and research project related to the topic are also to be taken into consideration.

Apply now


Students will be assigned a different work of entertainment published in early modern Europe freely available via a digital surrogate. Students will be asked to read and critically reflect on the text, which they will present during the winter school, and on which they will prepare a written report to be submitted after the end of the winter school (deadline: 15 January 2024).

The assessment will be based on the following criteria:

  • Oral presentation during the winter school (max 20 minutes in English or Italian): 50%

  • Written paper to be submitted no later than 15 January 2024 (6.000 characters aprox in English or Italian): 50%

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • Lorenzo Bartoli is a Profesor Titular (Associate Professor) at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
  • Gabriele Bucchi is a Maître d'enseignement et de recherche a the University of Lausanne.
  • Chiara De Cesare is a PhD student at the University of Parma.
  • Paolo Falzone is an Associate Professor in Italian at Sapienza Università di Roma.
  • Maiko Favaro is a Ricercatore (Lecturer) in Italian at Sapienza Università di Roma.
  • Luca Fiorentini is a Ricercatore (Lecturer) in Italian at Sapienza Università di Roma.
  • Shanti Graheli is a Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Glasgow.
  • Francesco Lucioli is a Ricercatore (Lecturer) in Italian at Sapienza Università di Roma.
  • Iolanda Plescia is an Associate Professor of English in the department of European, American and Intercultural Studies at Sapienza Università di Roma.
  • Arianna Punzi is a full Professor of Romance Philology at Sapienza University of Rome.
  • Raffaele Ruggiero is a full Professor of Renaissance Italian Literature and Civilization at the Aix-Marseille Université.
  • Elisabetta Sarmati is an Associate Professor in Spanish Literature at Sapienza University of Rome.
  • Helena Sanson is a full Professor of Italian, History of Linguistics, and Women's Studies at the University of Cambridge.
  • Sophie Berangere Singlard is a Maître de conférences in Spanish studies at the Aix-Marseille Université.
  • Ioannis Dim. Tsolkas is a full Professor of History of the Italian Literature & European Culture at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.