Section 401 - SEM
More than any other early modern European author, Giovanni Boccaccio has inspired artists to visualize what he wrote, from Botticelli to Rubens, Angelica Kaufmann to Marc Chagall. The manuscript era alone has left us more than 8,000 images, and with print culture, Boccaccio’s tales and histories multiplied through woodblock and engraved reproductions. In our own time his fiction has been the subject of cinema, notably Pasolini’s Decameron, but also other media in popular culture--even the “classic” comic book. In this course we will consider the question of why Boccaccio’s literary art is so readily “picturable“ and explore its interaction with the visual arts, beginning with the portraits of him (including a self-portrait) and the remarkable corpus of drawings by Boccaccio himself as the first representative in a tradition of talented figures who, like Michelangelo and Cellini, practiced both as artists and poets. Visualizations of the text become not only pictorial commentary complementing verbal glosses, they tell much about the history of its reception, from the sociology of its readership to issues of censorship. Half of the course will be devoted to close readings of the Decameron, and the other half to the humanistic Latin works that circulated internationally and produced magnificent court art in Northern Europe--The Falls of Princes, Famous Women (the first collection of female biographies in the west), and Genealogy of the Gentile Gods, with its influential mythography and theory of poetry. The course will aim to present a methodology that students can apply to other authors in research and teaching. Taught in English with original language texts available on reserve, it has no prerequisites and is open to undergraduates by permission of the instructor.
T 0130PM-0430PM
  • COML521401
  • GSWS537401
  • ITAL537401