A Joint University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University Conference, October 24-26, 2013.
Organizers: Albert R. Ascoli and David Lummus
This interdisciplinary and international conference will explore the figure and works of Giovanni Boccaccio from the point of view of their extraordinary, yet little remarked impact on early modernity. It will have a dual focus on Boccaccio's own understanding of his cultural program and on the direct and indirect impact of his works on the vernacular and Latin culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy and throughout Europe (esp. England, Spain, and France). Not only did Boccaccio's Decameron have a strong influence on Italian and European fiction, theater, and visual arts in the Renaissance, his vernacular romances, pastorals, and dream visions, alongside his Latin mythography, historiography, and bucolic poetry, experienced a lasting success well into the sixteenth century and beyond. That influence has been consistently under-estimated by comparison, for instance, with that of his more famous, and self-promoting contemporary, Francesco Petrarca. European Petrarchism is universally recognized as an early modern literary phenomenon; is there a concomitant European Boccaccism? Is there a Boccaccian brand of Renaissance Humanism? In addition to pointing out how Boccaccio became a privileged source and model in a wide spectrum of genres and modes of discourse, in tandem with or instead of ancient authors such as Vergil or Cicero, or new classics such as Dante or Petrarch, we will attempt to theorize a new model of cultural transmission that accounts for both the generative power and the relative invisibility of Boccaccio’s works in an era of extraordinary cultural change. Speakers representative of multiple disciplines (art history, intellectual history, history of the book, as well as literature) and national traditions (Italy, Spain, France, England) have agreed to speak.