Boccaccio’s Decameron with Dr. Kristin Stasiowski

Boccaccio’s Decameron with Dr. Kristin Stasiowski


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Immerse yourself in the imaginative, playful world of Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron in this seminar designed to introduce readers to a selection of tales from this medieval masterpiece set against the famous Black Death of 1348 in Florence, Italy.

“It is a matter of humanity to show compassion for those who suffer…,” writes Giovanni Boccaccio in the first line of the Preface to Decameron. Set in Florence during the 1348 plague known as the Black Death, Boccaccio’s work has received recent attention as readers worldwide struggle to navigate the perils of the COVID 19 pandemic. However, the real strength of Boccaccio’s tales is not their literary proximity to our current experience. Instead, these stories about virtue and vice, honesty and deceit; love and loss; fortitude and temperance; prudence, and magnificence; help readers shift their focus to the humanity needed to rebuild and remake the world.

In this seminar, we will introduce readers to the major themes of Decameron against the backdrop of the historical reality of the plague in Florence. We will then focus our specific attention on a close reading of three novelle from Decameron: Day 1, Story 1; Day 6, Story 5; and Day 10, Story 10. Each of these novelle will be read in relation to one another and discussed from within the framework of Boccaccio’s larger thematic and literary concerns. As these tales will demonstrate, it is not the pathos of Boccaccio’s plague that gives Decameron its enduring and vital power; it is the passion and compassion that his stories reveal us capable of when called upon to care about and for each other.

Led by an expert in Italian literature and culture, Kristin Stasiowski, Ph.D., this interactive seminar will introduce participants to Boccaccio and Decameron through an in-depth discussion of the playful nature of literature and storytelling. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of Boccaccio’s genius and the power of language to address, represent, and awaken the power of the imagination.

Kristin Stasiowski, Ph.D. is the Assistant Dean of International Programs and Education Abroad for the College of Arts and Sciences and is also an Assistant Professor of Italian Language and Literature in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Kent State University. She received her Ph.D from Yale University in Italian Language and Literature and has taught Italian language, literature, cinema, history, and culture in both the United States and Florence, Italy prior to arriving at Kent State. Her current research is on Italian author Clemente Rebora.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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