The Book That Made Us Modern: Boccaccio’s Decameron

Fall Quarter, 2017

Thursday afternoons, 12:45-2:45 p.m

D.  The Book That Made Us Modern: Boccaccio’s Decameron

Thomas Simpson, Associate Professor of Instruction, Italian

Norris University Center

The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio, is the book that presages the modern world in all its paradoxical exuberance. Written in the wake of the Black Death, the hundred tales in the Decameron reveal the rich panoply of humanity as a fabric of individuals of every imaginable class and condition, each trying as best they can to survive the universal challenges of daily life. Cruelty and kindness, lust, and spirituality, hypocrisy and sincerity clash bitterly and co-exist tenderly in a literary monument of the Middle Ages that heralds the advent of modernity. 

In this course, we will read the Decameron , examine its thematic and formal architecture, and conduct close readings of many of the tales.