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Volume 31 of Annali d'italianistica, to be published in 2013, will celebrate the 7th centenary of Boccaccio's birth and intends to develop a reading of the entire Decameron from a unified perspective, taking into account all the elements of each day, some of which, such as the ten beginnings and conclusions of each day, are often neglected. Drawing from the many scholars who have suggested and also proposed a view of the Decameron as a parody of the prevailing culture of the Middle Ages, the volume is tentatively entitled: Boccaccio's Decameron: Rewriting the Christian Middle Ages.
Oftentimes read as a work of amusement, to be contrasted with Dante's sublime Divine Comedy or Petrarch's introspective and personal Canzoniere, the Decameron is construed — the Annali volume intends to argue — as a sophisticated discourse aimed at parodying the predominant medieval culture and proposing a more humane, tolerant, and ethical society that condemns hypocrisy, looks indulgently at sins of the flesh, and, most importantly, sets up several models of interactions among people that are based on equal and respectful exchange, as well as liberal and munificent giving. The volume intends to develop a reading of the entire Decameron as a parody, up to, and inclusive of, Day Nine. The tales narrated in the first nine days, by and large, portray a world in which people are often controlled by fortune, lust, self-interested ingenuity, hypocrisy, or their own wickedness, which oftentimes overcome other people's intelligence, simplicity, or good will; in brief, adopting a famous Machiavellian statement, a world by and large in which anyone who intends to be virtuous is bound to perish. A simplified definition of parody, which may help explain how it functions in the Decameron, includes most of the genre's fundamental elements. According to this reading, the Decameron seeks to subvert prevailing medieval ideologies, primarily of the church, while proposing new ways of thought and conduct; in brief, a new way of looking at life and the world that can itself also be subjected to critique, as the Decameron's conclusion exemplifies through the Narrator's interaction with the ladies in love, but also, at the same time, a world view more focused on humans, who are by nature fallible and thus need compassion, as the Narrator proclaims at the beginning and end of the masterpiece.
Vis-à-vis the first nine days, which can be referred to as pars destruens, and in which the predominant medieval culture is being questioned, undermined, and parodied, the tales of the tenth day seek to represent, according to this reading, the Decameron's pars construens. Here Boccaccio seeks to reconstruct a new community of people, which, albeit unable to eliminate the aporias afflicting the world of the first ninety stories, can nevertheless be transformed by acts of liberality, generosity, and even total self-sacrifice. Thus, in so far as also the last ten tales rewrite the traditional origin and purpose of these virtuous acts — no longer performed for God's love, as Christianity demands — also Day Ten may be viewed within the Decameron's parodic context.
AdI 2014: From Otium and Occupatio to Work & Labor in Italian Culture
Labor, work, and their changed conditions at the dawn of the 21st century are among the most discussed and debated questions of our times. In recognition of the topicality of this subject and in light of the historical centrality of Italy in the constitution of — but also antagonism towards — capitalist formations, Annali d'Italianistica will devote its 32nd issue to investigating the temporal and spatial articulations of work and labor in Italian culture, from the pre-industrial era to the Industrial Revolution and beyond. Coverage will thus span from the early Middle Ages to the present.
As the medieval organization of society underwent profound transformations in the course of the 13th century, so did conceptions of work and labor. During the late Middle Ages, the legitimacy acquired by various forms of work and labor facilitated the consolidation of corporate guild structures, networks of laborers' associations, and even demands for corporate representation. The late medieval re-conceptualization of work underwent further transformations during the Renaissance. Italian city-states emerged as pioneers in the creation of early forms of capitalist accumulation and wage-labor relations that would profoundly alter the material conditions of work and class structure. The changes in labor processes and class-consciousness of early modernity would be fully actualized with the integration of labor-saving technological inventions into large-scale modes of agricultural and industrial production. With the increased rationalization of work-productivity through the early doctrines of Taylorism and Fordism in the 20th century, Italy's role as a full-fledged, if belated, member of Western modernity was consolidated.
In addition to exploring literary and aesthetic engagements with the work and labor cultures that have emerged in different periods of Italian history, this volume also seeks to investigate present-day cultural responses to the transformations that have occurred in post-Fordist, late capitalist society. While experiencing, like most Western societies, the impact of the growth of information technology and the effects of global economic networks on its national labor market, including the new conditions of "lavoro immateriale," Italy is responding in contradictory ways: from enthusiasm over the freedom and flexibility deriving from geographical and temporal constraints enabled by cyberspace and cybertime, to the anxiety over the changes wrought by shifts in the global economic hierarchy.
Deadline for submission is September 30, 2013; the volume will be published in the fall of 2014. All contributions will be refereed. Essays, not to exceed 25 double-spaced pages, can be written in Italian or English, and should conform to the style-sheet criteria set forth by Annali d'Italianistica.
Prospective contributors should address all inquiries to both guest editors:
Norma Bouchard, University of Connecticut: Normabouchard60@hotmail.com Valerio Ferme, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA: firstname.lastname@example.org