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  • 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.