Yale professor to teach summer course at Kent State Summer Florence Institute

Madison Patterson

Students can learn about the Renaissance in its birthplace from Giuseppe Mazzotta, Sterling Professor of the Humanities for Italian at Yale University in summer 2019 at the Kent State Summer Florence Institute.  

The class, called the Florentine Renaissance, will allow students to learn about Florence as the cradle of the Renaissance.

Mazzotta got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Toronto and later, his Ph.D. at Cornell University. His fields of study included romance languages, philosophy and religious studies. He has published 12 books and is well-known for his expertise in the works of Italian poet Dante Alighieri, serving for six years as president of the Dante Society of America.

The author first became acquainted with Kent State when he gave a lecture in the Kiva November 2017 to a crowd of 500, during which he felt an instant envirograting energy from the campus.

“This is the most innovative university nowadays,” he said.  “Here, I feel that there is an effort not just to rejuvenate, but to remake.”

After meeting Mazzotta and seeing the success of his lecture, Kristin Stasiowski, assistant dean of International Programs and Education Abroad, thought that his skill set would be invaluable to Kent State students.

“He’s someone who has an encyclopedic vision of literature,” she said.

Stasiowski reached out to see if he would teach a summer course for Kent State in Florence shortly after, and has already seen the benefits.

“Being able to take a class with him in person through a university where tuition is very reasonable, in comparison to Yale University, for example, makes that opportunity a priceless one,” she said.

Mazzotta thinks it’s important for students from the U.S. to learn about where aspects of their culture come from.

“Western culture was shaped by (the Renaissance),” he said. “The American Revolution has its roots in Rome.”

The opportunity to be a teaching assistant for Mazzotta during the 2018 Summer semester was a life-changing experience for Maria Kuhn, a graduate student majoring in art history.

His lifelong passion for the subjects covered in the Florentine Renaissance class made the course all the more compelling for Kuhn, who studied in Florence once already. Because of her dual role as a TA and student, she was able to compare her experiences and see the impact a dynamic professor can have.

“Students want to learn what he’s talking about,” she said. “There’s a way to make it cool and interesting.”

Mazzotta plans to teach at the Florence Summer Institute for years to come, and hopes that more and more students are able to get a global education.

“People used to travel as a part of an educational experience,” he said. “It’s time to revive the Grand Tour.”

Madison Patterson is the international students and issues reporter. Contact her at [email protected]