Graduate Courses, Fall 2008

Italian 531
Dante's Commedia I

Prof. Brownlee

Dante's Divine Comedy

A close reading of the Inferno Purgatorio and Paradiso, which focuses on a series of interrelated problems raised by the poem: authority, representation, history, politics, and language. Particular attention will be given to Dante's use of Classical and Christian model texts: Ovid's Metamorphoses, Virgil's Aeneid, and the Bible. Dante's rewritings of model authors will also be studied in the context of the medieval Italian and Provençal love lyric. The course will be taught in English and cross-listed in Comparative Literature. Students taking it for Italian credit will do the readings and written assignments in Italian.

Italian 537
Boccaccio in a Kaleidoscope

Prof. Kirkham

Readings across the full range of Boccaccio’s writings, from his earliest fiction (Diana’s Hunt, Filostrato, Filocolo, the epic Teseida), to his mid-career activity (Life of Dante, Decameron), late biographical writings (e.g., Concerning Famous Women) and Dante commentary. Emphasis (about half the course) on the Decameron with selections from the other works, including his correspondence with Petrarch. Texts will be explored through multifaceted approaches that have characterized specifically Boccaccian traditions of interpretation. These will include philological foundations of textual analysis, literary-historical readings, feminist scholarship, word-image studies applied to the rich visual heritage inspired by Boccaccio’s encyclopedic textual corpus (some 8,000 images during the manuscript era), and a distorting reception history that has narrowed his identity to the supposedly “lewd” author of racy novellas. Our aim will be to restore a fuller sense of a writer both medieval and proto-humanist, situating him in his relationship to classical antiquity, his venerated Dante, and his revered friend Petrarch. Reading knowledge of Italian preferred but not required. Texts will be available in both languages; class conducted in English. Cross-listed with Comp Lit and Women’s Studies. 

Italian 581
Futurism, Classicism, Fascism

Prof. Finotti

Futurism and Classicism are the two faces of Fascism. What is the relation between totalitarianism, tradition and modernism? More generally, how are the 20 th century esthetic avant-gardes connected to the political ones, and their mythologies? A broad survey of the literary, visual, architectural, musical, mass-media, cinematic accomplishment of Futurism, will be supported by texts analyzing the cultural phenomenon of “vanguardism” in its connection with the mainstream political, social, industrial culture. The discourse of Futurism will be analyzed also in terms of gender, focusing on Futurist and Fascist “machismo”, and on the active participation of women in both the movements.

Course open to undergraduates, under permission.