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Syllabus for Short Fiction in Medieval and Renaissance Italy and England

Required texts:

- Giovanni Boccaccio, Il Decameron, 2 vols, ed. Vittore Branca (Einaudi)

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

Module outline:

Week 2: Introduction to short fiction. The Decameron and the Canterbury Tales: authors, themes and backgrounds.

Week 3: Characters and structures in the Decameron and Canterbury Tales. Read: Proemio to the Decameron, Introduzione alla prima giornata, Introduzione alla quarta giornata; and Prologue, Canterbury Tales. Also read Pamela Stewart, ‘Boccaccio’ in The Cambridge History of Italian Literature, ed. by Peter Brand and Lino Pertile, 2nd ed.; F.R.H. Du Boulay, ‘The Historical Chaucer’ in Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales.

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: English and Italian Short Stories up to the Sixteenth Century: Bandello and Painter (readings tbc)

N.B.: Students are required to bring 1-2 pages of summary and analysis of the relevant readings to each week’s lecture.

Presentations: throughout the term, students will give one (unassessed) oral presentation of 7–8 minutes on the topic for that week from primary and/or secondary readings.