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Syllabus for Short Fiction in Medieval and Renaissance Italy and England

Talis link for readings

Required texts:

- Giovanni Boccaccio, Il Decameron, 2 vols, ed. Vittore Branca (Einaudi) or, if not accessible, the online Library version (in Italian)

- Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue, 2nd ed. (Norton Critical Edition)

Module outline:

Week 1: Introduction to short fiction. The Decameron and the Canterbury Tales: authors, themes and backgrounds.

It would be useful to read: Pamela Stewart, ‘Boccaccio’ in The Cambridge History of Italian Literature, ed. by Peter Brand and Lino Pertile, 2nd ed. (e-book); Paul Strohm, 'The social and literary scene in England' in The Cambridge Companion to Chaucer (e-book).

Week 2: Proemio, Introduzione alla Prima Giornata, and Introduzione alla Quarta Giornata (Decameron); also read around in Pier Massimo Forni, Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's Decameron (e-book).

Week 3: Prologue, Canterbury Tales. Also read around in John C. Hirsch, Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales: A Short Introduction (online).

Week 4: Religion and anti-clericalism: Dec. I.1, VI.10; C.T.: The Pardoner’s Tale. Suggested further reading: Dec. III, 1 (Masetto); IV, 2 (Frate Alberto).

Week 5: Humour and sex: Dec. IX.6; C.T.: The Reeve’s Tale. Suggested further reading: Dec. III, 10 (Alibech); IX, 2 (Badessa); The Miller's Tale

Week 6 (Reading Week): no class; start working on essay

Week 7: Generosity: Dec. X.5 (Negromante); C.T.: The Franklin’s Tale

Week 8: Faithfulness: Dec. X.10 (Griselda); C.T.: The Clerk’s Tale

Week 9: Literature and high moral purpose: Retractions and Conclusions

Week 10: Class test

Presentations: throughout the term, students will give one (unassessed) oral presentation of 10 minutes on one of the weekly topics.