A manifesto for 2013

29 04 2010

(Download our flyer here)

Where is Boccaccio in 2013? We seek to problematize the field of Boccaccio studies and the historical figure of Boccaccio himself, in this anniversary year seven centuries after his birth. We will explore the curious marginality of Boccaccio in literary and historical studies, and will attempt to (re-)situate him in a number of critical locales.

Boccaccio’s status as one of the canonical tre corone of Italian medieval literature remains unchallenged (or perhaps, little discussed), yet his standing in the academy sometimes seems to be regarded as rather less impressive than that of his senior colleagues Dante and Petrarch. How and why has this conception of Boccaccio and his writings come about? Does this critical trend derive from Boccaccio’s own articulations of his authorial anxieties as he seeks to authorize and assimilate the example of Dante, while reconciling this with the all-too-living legend of Petrarch? Or is this historiographical strand in fact a by-product of the long-standing Dante and Petrarch industries, which have sidelined Boccaccio to a supporting role in the narratives of these great authors?

Why is Boccaccio’s important political and diplomatic work still virtually invisible in Boccaccio studies? Why is his contribution to humanistic studies downplayed in relation to that of Petrarch? Is there a political dimension to the (romanticized) historiography of the tre corone?

Why have reception studies become such a central and dominant strand in the field? Were the gigantic philological and historical achievements of Branca and the editors of the Mondadori series a spur to others to take their research into these new directions? Can new work into the materiality of Boccaccio and the reception tradition revitalize bibliographical studies on Boccaccio?

In 2013, can we even talk about a unified field of Boccaccio studies, or have the Italian and anglophone worlds diverged definitively from each other?

Why does Boccaccio offer such a productive space to female scholars? Alone amongst the tre corone, Boccaccio studies is dominated in the anglophone world by women. How does our subjectivity as boccacciste/i impact on our work? Has the gendering of the field, both by its practitioners and in its critical approaches, created a marginal status within Italian medieval studies? Or has the feminist reading of Boccaccio become institutionalized in itself?

Can we measure the marginal status of Boccaccio in our institutions and in our publications? (e.g., the ‘accessible’ Boccaccio for lower-level undergraduates, the mysteries of Dante restricted to final-year initiates; the world of the Latin Petrarch, meanwhile, for research students only.) Can this be measured in tangible outputs? Is there a gender dimension to this?

In addressing these provocative questions, we seek to locate Boccaccio temporally (in 2013 and in the past), materially (in the forms of his writings and the forms of their subsequent incarnations), geographically (within Italy and beyond), and, most of all, critically for the twenty-first century. We envisage a series of outputs for the anniversary year:

Events and Publications

  • Two-day international conference at The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester
  • Exhibition showcasing the Boccaccio holdings of the Rylands library and including contemporary Artists’ Books created for the septcentenary
  • Hands-on workshops and master classes
  • Academic publications
  • Exhibition catalogue



2 responses

17 05 2011
Gerardina Antelmi

Really inspiring. Please keep me posted.

17 05 2011

Thanks, Gerardina (se posso)!
It’s great to have some feedback. We’ll be posting more information in the next week or so, so do check back for updates.
Best wishes,

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