The site of some of the most widely recognizable monuments of western art history and the home to some of the most famous artists, writers, designers, thinkers, and cultural patrons of early modern culture, Florence has long occupied a central place in a larger pan-European discourse of Modernity, Beauty, and the Individual Subject. As a result, the city itself has come to occupy a mythic position as a central hub of Western intellectual culture: uprooted from its geographical specificity by the circulation of such proper names as Machiavelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and unmoored from its historical heritage by the disorienting complexities of modern mass tourism. Therefore, this course seeks to re-integrate the “Renaissance” into the urban context from which it emerged, to defamiliarize it so that it can be looked at from other perspectives. It focuses on the city itself as the protagonist of some of the most important experiments in art, architecture, and urban development and shows how they were intimately connected to a lively and engaged social body. By approaching images and monuments through the spatial practices by which they were encountered by Renaissance society (rituals of conflict, contests, economic exchange, religious devotion, urban politics, identity formation, among others), students will gain a more nuanced understanding of the links between a localized urban culture and a larger intercultural and cross-temporal exchange of ideas. Rather than diminishing the cultural achievements of its artistic giants, or de-legitimating the rich, varied, and sophisticated intellectual heritage of Renaissance scholarship, this course works toward a critical dialogue between historiography, the historical monument, and the urban context.