Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles PROFESSOR 1: Hello and welcome to week four. This week we continue with works that are written in the dialogic presentation. And hope we get into something really fun here. Gender and education in the Renaissance. And How Should Men and Women Be Educated? And we think this is a really fun topic, and have been talking about it a lot before we made this recording. So we hope to bring you into the fun of the discussion, as well. PROFESSOR 2: And this is a very hot topic during the Renaissance. I mean the roles of men and women are always a hot topic. But especially in this time period when education was taking on new importance. Right? You have the rediscovery of all these classical texts. You have lots of people that are trying to renew the glories of ancient Greece and Rome. And one of the most important ways to do that is through education. You have this whole group of people called the Humanists who want to revive classical education. And so in doing that, they have some tough questions to try to deal with about who should receive that education, and how that education should fit into the social structure that's already set up. So one of the texts that we are looking at-- and we're looking at only a very small piece of each of these three texts-- please keep in mind that all three of these books-- Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier, Bruto's Education of a Young Noblewoman, and Christine de Pisan's City of Ladies are all much larger, longer books. We are just taking a tiny, tiny slice of them. So please don't feel like you understand them all from this. Because there's so much more. And if you're interested, there's so much more. So Castiglione's book, The Courtier-- as your head notes to the reading tells you-- was published in the early 1520s, well, in the 1520s. 1528. And it was supposedly the record of a conversation that he had been part of-- or had witnessed at a court, at a royal court back in Urbino, back when he was a diplomat. And so we don't really know how much of this is made up, or how much of this is actually true to what really happened. But I don't think it really matters, actually, because he captures these questions about courtly life in the Renaissance, and specifically about how to make it. So in some ways this is like a political book for aspiring government workers, aspiring presidents. How do you become a perfect politician. PROFESSOR 1: Aspiring philosopher kings, as it were. PROFESSOR 2: Yes. And so Castiglione's book of the courtier was very, very famous during its own time. Lots and lots of people read it as a sort of success manual. How do I make it? How do I become successful during this time? So that the setup of this book is that a bunch of courtly ladies and gentlemen are hanging out together at a court in Urbino. And they're trying to figure how to pass the time one evening. And so they come up with all these ideas of what we might do, what kind of party games we might play. And they say, you know, maybe we should have everybody tell jokes. And they said, no, that doesn't sound so fun. Maybe we should talk about this. Aw no, that doesn't sound so fun. And somebody says, hey, I have an idea. Why don't we talk about what we think the perfect courtier-- the perfect courtly gentleman-- would be like. And everybody says, that sounds like a great idea. We'll all take turns. And so it's very, very much not just a dialogue, because there's more than two people talking. It's very much a conversation in which tons of different ideas are floated out. But several of them-- the ones we've given to you in this handout-- seem to recur over and over. Or at least the conversation seems to agree on some of these things-- specifically the ones that we've given you. PROFESSOR 1: And I guess it's my turn to talk now. I think it's important to remember is that we are talking about people living a political life here. So a very particular class of society. They're not talking about education in general for men and for women, but education for the noble elite of society, whose job it is to lead the country, or to lead the kingdom. PROFESSOR 2: Yeah, and it's interesting that we would even have to say that, because for most of human history, that's the only people that were educated. Those were the only people who were educated anyway. So I mean, they don't feel the need to say we're not talking about the lower classes here, because lower classes just weren't educated. But even their discussion is not so much about formal education as it is about what-- it's about learning objectives. About the skills and knowledge that someone would need to develop in order to have a successful career-- specifically a successful career in the courts and government of Renaissance Italy. And so we have in the handout that you have, in the reading, there are lots of different skills. We could make a whole list of the different skill that he thinks that a courtier should have, all the way from the ability to use weapons, to painting, to writing, speaking, to dancing, to music. There's quite a list of general education requirements. But the part that I would like to focus on, or draw your attention to, is at the bottom of page one, which talks about the method of education, the way that this courtier gains his education. It says, "Therefore, he who wishes to be a good pupil, besides performing his tasks well, must put forth every effort to resemble his master, and if it were possible, to transform himself into his master. And when he feels that he's made some progress, it will be very profitable to serve different men of the same calling, and governing himself with that good judgment which must ever be disguised, to go about selecting now this thing from one, and that thing from another." And so this process of education is not formal schooling in the sense of sitting down in a classroom and having someone teach you these things, so much it is finding people who know how to do what you want to do, and watching them, imitating them, looking at a bunch of different people, and learning from a variety of teachers to cobble together the skills that are going to be most necessary for your situation. PROFESSOR 1: And these are social skills, too, which I think are learned by imitation. Think about high school. When you were a freshman-- or any social situation. But what came to my mind is we were just talking about that, is a social hierarchy where you come in. Let's say you're a freshman in high school, and you're kind of geeky and don't really know what to do. And you see the big, cool seniors and what they're doing. I think this is something very important that humans do well. We watch. We see what somebody's doing. We try on these personas. How many different ways did you try to act, or dress, or be when you were an adolescent? We're glad we don't have pictures with us now. But those are the things that people do to try to rise in the social hierarchy. And that's exactly what's being taught here-- rising in the social hierarchy within this particular political class. PROFESSOR 2: And it reminds me of [INAUDIBLE] second theory about those intangible skills that you learned during college that you might not learn anywhere else. And I think about as a teacher how often the things that my students learn from me go way beyond content knowledge to how to manage their time, how to write an email to a teacher that isn't insulting, how to ask for help when necessary, how to work with a team. All these kinds of things that go beyond learning calculus or learning American history. PROFESSOR 1: Right. We don't see the same sorts of discussion and, I want to say justification, for the subject matter here in the Renaissance that we saw Socrates spelling out in the Glaucon in The Republic. PROFESSOR 2: Right. PROFESSOR 1: There's certainly some similarities. And I think it's fascinating to look at-- to do a little comparing and contrasting between what Plato was presenting his ruling class in an ideal world would be taught, and what Castiglione here is presenting the ideal ruling class be taught. PROFESSOR 2: Yeah. Yeah, because there's a lot in common. And Castiglione and his cronies here had certainly read Plato. There was a big resurgence of Plato during this time. But it is interesting that there isn't that same sort of practical application of all these things. I mean, you do have to learn how to use weapons because you might duel. I guess that's kind of practical. PROFESSOR 1: Yes. You need to know how to defend yourself with both a rapier, a dagger, and a pistol. PROFESSOR 2: One other thing that I want to point out is at the top of page two. One of the most famous parts of this particular discussion is Castiglione's emphasis on doing things naturally, doing things with a sort of-- he called it nonchalance. And the Italian word that he uses is a new word. It's called sprezzatura. I love that word. Sprezzatura. And It means doing things as if they were easy, or making them look easy. And I think about how we value that in our own society still, then when we watch Olympic athletes, or when we watch ballet dancers, or singers, that we want to think that it happens very naturally, that we don't want to see the evidence of all the hard work. When someone makes a mistake-- [GASP] Oh, that's not supposed to happen. It's supposed to be effortless somehow. PROFESSOR 1: Right. Effortless. Natural. Although we still value the hard work that's put in, we don't want it to look that way. Think, for example, how upset people were when like, you learn somebody's been lip syncing. If we want to go back to my childhood, when I learned that Donnie and Marie lip sync-- PROFESSOR 2: And then Milli Vanilli. PROFESSOR 1: OK. Milli Vanilli. And more recently the orchestra that played during the presidential inauguration, Obama's presidential inauguration. It was so cold, their instruments literally would not stay in tune. And anyone who knows the fine instruments knows that. But the people were just outraged that they were playing along and faking it to a recording. Because we want things to be natural. Theses are talented musicians. They should be able to play without-- regardless of the weather. PROFESSOR 2: Right. And I think about even in school now-- I have a fourth grade son-- and it's not enough that he know the times tables, he has to be able to do them very quickly. And so, I mean, surely that has practical application. But you know, the ACT test, and SAT test, it's not just that you can get the answer, you have to be able to do it quickly. This has to be something natural and innate to you. It can't take too much work on your part, or it doesn't have the same kind of value for our society. Which I think is very interesting. PROFESSOR 1: And we could talk about this for a lot longer, but we better move on.