Academic year
2020/2021 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0460 (AF:331557 AR:178068)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Term
Course year
Go to Moodle page
This course will prepare students to understand the history of medicine and natural philosophy in relation to institutional, social, religious, and intellectual contexts of the Renaissance. To do this, the course will focus on the practices of medicine, allowing students to understand the broader settings of the field in relation to humanism, human physiology, epidemic disease, practices of dissection, astrology, treatments, philology, and historical investigation. The formal objectives include applying the methods of the history of science to build a deeper understanding of Renaissance medicine and understandings of nature.

1. Understanding methods of the history of science.
Understanding major themes in Renaissance thought about the natural world.
Understanding the context of Renaissance medicine.
Understanding the historiography related to these themes.
2. The ability to analyze Renaissance writings about natural world and place these writings in their social, intellectual, and institutional contexts.
3. The ability to research and write about Renaissance ideas about nature and human physiology.
4. The ability to communicate ideas about Renaissance thought in oral presentations, written exercises, and oral exams.
5. The ability to participate in and contribute group discussions on the history of science in seminars.
6. The ability to understanding developments in the historiography of Renaissance thought.
There are no prerequisites for this course.
Non-attending students are required to have taken a course in the history of science either at the bachelor's or master's level.
The course covers the emergence of new medical theories and practices during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries with a focus on Italy. In particular the course will look at medical writings that reflect Renaissance humanism. The texts will be compared with the medieval and ancient tradition. These writings will include those by Hippocrates, Galen, Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Niccolò Leoniceno, Girolamo Fracastoro, Andreas Vesalius, Giovanni Manardi, Giambattista Da Monte, Jean Fernel, and Girolamo Cardano.
Nancy Siraisi, Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine, Chicago University Press, 1990.

Primary sources in translation and selected secondary sources will be placed on Moodle.

Non-attending students will also be required to read Nancy G. Siraisi, The Clock and the Mirror: Girolamo Cardano and Renaissance Medicine, Princeton University Press, 1997.

Oral exam based on research paper, in class presentation, and the class's readings.
The course will be based on seminars.
Ca' Foscari abides by Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). If you have a disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 03/06/2020