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Radical Renaissance Writers

What does it mean to be a radical thinker or writer? What do they have in common? Be prepared to shift your perspective on the past and present in this pioneering course from our Challenge the Canon series. Perfect for anyone interested in Classics, English, Philosophy, History and Italy during the Renaissance. This course is held online and consists of pre-reading worksheets including primary sources and activities (approx. 1 hour of independent study per week) and an interactive seminar each week.

Previous Course: 

Autumn 2021


This short, 6-week course will delve into the fascinating work of six writers from the 'Renaissance' period (1400 - 1700) who challenged mainstream authorities during their lifetimes, with a focus on the relevance of their classical education(s). This course is unique because it brings together six inspiring thinkers - 4 women, 2 men - not commonly taught together, if taught at all. We will explore a fundamental question: how has a classical education been used to challenge injustice in society, the church and the state? 

"Restoring radical writers to intellectual history"

On this flexible course, you will receive pre-reading activities each week (approx. 1 hour independent study) to warm up your ideas prior to a 1-hour on-demand lecture. Over six weeks, you will have the opportunity to: discover new authors and texts; appreciate and learn from the argumentation strategies used by each individual; explore how they engage with classical authors and ideas in their work; consider the impact of their writing during their lifetime and beyond; situate the texts within their historical and political context; use the selected extracts as prompts to think about the Renaissance and what it means to be a 'radical' thinker today. 

Each week will focus on a different author and selected extracts in English translation from their work(s), including:

  • Nov 2: Christine de Pizan, who wrote The Book of the City of Ladies

  • Nov 9: Isotta Nogarola, who wrote a dialogue defending Eve from 'original sin

  • Nov 16: Girolamo Savonarola, who denounced clerical corruption and called for a Christian renewal

  • Nov 23: Bartolomé de las Casas, who challenged the notion of natural slavery 

  • Nov 30: Tullia D'Aragona, who wrote a dialogue on the nature of love

  • Dec 7: Arcangela Tarabotti, who wrote against the practice of enforced monastic enclosure


Lead tutor: Florence


6-week course | Full Fee: £125 

Application status: Closed

How to Apply 

1. Enrol on your chosen course by purchase made via the store

2. Wait for your place confirmation email

3. Receive your Pre-class tasks for Week 1

In the meantime, keep up with our #RadicalRenaissanceWriters posts on Instagram

Feedback from Forte Academy students....


"I was introduced to the world of classics and brilliant writers who I knew nothing about. As someone who gave up on studying history at school, this made me want to learn even more. Thank you to Florence for sharing your passion for this subject and the authors. It's been thrilling to learn about some radical amazing women writers."
- Amy, Radical Renaissance Writers, 2021

"I loved getting background info on the writer and the time they were writing - it really put the readings in context.
Florence was wonderful - so engaging, smart, and well informed."
-  Radical Renaissance Writers Student, 2021

"I absolutely loved this course! I learnt so much and it wasn’t as restrictive or closed-off as traditional classical learning can be. A real chance to genuinely expand what classics means to a student of it"
- Kasia, CA 2021 Challenge the Canon, 2021

"I am absolutely blown away by how much information I received during this course. It feels like so many more doors have been opened for me to explore, and thanks to Florence and the team my appetite for the Classics has increased tremendously!"
- Erin, CA 2021 Challenge the Canon, 2021

"Thoroughly enjoyed the course, felt that it was at an accessible level for someone with history knowledge but limited latin background. Would recommend to others and would love to do another course with the Forte Academy"
- Sophie, CA 2021 Challenge the Canon, 2021

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