What is the course about?
In the 14th century, Boccaccio created a ground-breaking work of literature about Medieval themes seen through his own impressions of real life characters. The Decameron is his most famous work. Come and enjoy his entertaining and worldly tales. Comic and tragic, bawdy and satiric in turns, Boccaccio was criticised in his own time for writing on topics that were considered immoral at the time.
Drawing from the Medieval world, The Decameron goes beyond Boccaccio’s time and we witness ordinary men dealing with their own destiny and trying to overcome it. Stylistically, his work not only represented the best of classical Italian prose but went on to influence Renaissance literature in the whole of Europe.
What will we cover?
After an introduction on Italy in the 13th and 14th century, we will look at Boccaccio’s life and works. We will then introduce the Decameron – its origins, structure and themes – followed by the reading and commenting of some key stories. We will also look at a scene from the movie version of the “Decameron” directed by Pierpaolo Pasolini.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
. By the end of the course you should be able to:
- describe the audience Boccaccio wrote for
- name some key themes in The Decameron
- give an example of how and why Boccaccio went beyond morality.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course and does not require any knowledge of Italian or previous readings about the texts.
However, a good grasp of English is necessary to make the most of the session and to fully appreciate the themes.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The session will be a mixture of tutor-led lecture combined with group discussion, readings and opportunities to ask questions. Some group or pair activities will be included. A further reading list will be provided at the end.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Extracts from the books will be provided by the tutor - the reference edition will be Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron, translated by G.H. McWilliam (Penguin Classics, 2003). Bring writing material if you wish to take notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for Literary History courses under Literature under History, Culture and Writing at www.citylit.ac.uk for more information.