Masterpieces of Italian Literature at Penn (MIL@P)

Masterpieces of Italian Literature at Penn (MIL @P)

“Masterpieces of Italian Literature at Penn” aims to develop a thriving community of graduate students of all schools and specializations that will consider some of the texts of Italian literature that played a pivotal role in global history. Although the group will focus on Italian texts, we intend to involve as many Penn students as possible, and therefore our conversations about primary and secondary readings will be in English and the texts might be read either in Italian or in English. Moreover, this reading group plans to use the many resources available in Van Pelt library and its vast collections of Italian manuscripts and prints. While reading some of the most influential works in Italian history, the group will circulate knowledge about Italian culture in the United States, with the help and collaboration of scholars from the University of Pennsylvania and external guests.

This group is led by the graduate students of the Department of Italian and intends to meet regularly during the year.

The graduate students of the Department of Italian are proud to announce the fourth year of “Masterpiece of Italian Literature @ Penn,” a graduate-led group that aims to read literary texts that have played a pivotal role in global literature.

This year we will read Lo Cunto de li Cunti, a collection of 50 fairy tales written by Giambattista Basile and published in Naples between 1634 and 1636. The work, also known as Pentamerone (five days), comprises 50 fairy tales told by ten storytellers in 5 days. The 50 fairy tales are placed in a frame that follows the model of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, even if the language used is very different and the themes treated are also different. The author dedicated Lo cunto de li cunti to the members of the Neapolitan Academy of Oziosi.


Giambattista Basile


The work has the characteristics of a medieval novel, which, however transforms by orienting itself towards fairytale tones and drawing on popular motifs. Despite the fairytale material and the subtitle, the collection is intended for an adult audience as it deals with complex themes.

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