The first meeting of the Italian Research Seminar in Spring 2020 will host a lecture by Prof. Justin Steinberg, entitled "The Artist and the Police: Decameron 8.3."
Boccaccio’s tale of Calandrino and the heliotrope is justly celebrated as a masterful reflection on art and illusion. In this lecture, Steinberg will explore the political dimension of this reflection. What are the power dynamics of seeing and being seen in the novella? In what ways is the beffa played on Calandrino also a civic punishment? What is the role of the customs agents in the tale? Is Calandrino simply a greedy friend or is he also a bad citizen (and immigrant)? Steinberg proposes that this fun-loving tale is really about paying taxes.
Justin Steinberg is Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Chicago. His scholarship focuses on medieval Italian literature, especially on Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, and the early lyric. Related interests include manuscript culture/material philology, reception studies, the connections between legal and literary culture, and medieval political theory. His books include: Dante and the Limits of the Law (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2013) and Accounting for Dante: Urban Readers and Writers in Late Medieval Italy (Notre Dame: Notre Dame UP, 2007). Currently, he is working on theological/legal/literary conceptions of fictio, on Dante's engagement with the question of "Jewish" justice, and on a book project (Mimesis on Trial: Evidence, Inquest, and Realism in Boccaccio's Decameron) exploring the connection between procedures for investigating and depicting crime and representations of the real in the trecento novella. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Dante Studies, the official annual journal of the Dante Society of America.
The Italian Research Seminar, a core event of the Center for Italian Studies, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian literature, language, and culture, as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame's Center for Italian Studies to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for scholarly exchange.