Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2007 - 7/31/2007

Funding Totals

$5,000.00 (approved)
$5,000.00 (awarded)

Self-Exegesis at The Margins: Boccaccio's TESEIDA DI NOZZE D'EMILIA

FAIN: FT-55454-07

Roberta Vera Ricci
Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2859)

I am seeking support to continue my research in Florence on Boccaccio's epic poem: TESEIDA DI NOZZE D'EMILIA. This material constitutes the first chapter of my book, which is a study of authorial commentaries written in Italy in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. In this chapter, I examine Boccaccio's glosses in the poem and pay specific attention to philological issues concerning the commentary: Were Boccaccio's glosses retained, or were they suppressed by Florentine copyists? What was preserved and what disappeared in the Italian handwritten and early printed tradition? The consultation of manuscripts available in Florence is particularly relevant for my research, for the history of those glosses remains to be studied.

Associated Products

Scrittura, riscrittura, autoesegesi: Voci autoriali intorno all'epica in volgare: Boccaccio, Tasso. (Book)
Title: Scrittura, riscrittura, autoesegesi: Voci autoriali intorno all'epica in volgare: Boccaccio, Tasso.
Author: Roberta Ricci
Abstract: This study examines the presence and connections of four different literary codes --that of the author who writes, the author who comments his own work, of the reader, and of the literary critic—in two poems remarkable for their place within the cultural panorama of early-modern Italian literature: Boccaccio’s Teseida and Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata. The idea of reflecting upon one’s own art is probably as old as literature itself and has its sense of participation in a wider literary tradition because it serves to overcome the medieval distinction between those who agunt de arte (the critics) and those who agunt per artem (the writers). Comments and marginalia written by authors as explanations of their own work add a new literary dimension to the richness of the text itself because this exegesis opens up issues concerned with critical inquiry, questions of authorship and readership, and the complexity of reception. Such issues are especially relevant for the genre of the epic poem, which was authoritative and fertile through the centuries and yet also particularly problematic in the first centuries of the Italian language.
Year: 2010
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: In the history of the epics in Tuscan vernacular, Boccaccio’s public, prolix, and learned glosses written in the third person, on one hand, and Tasso’s private, complex, and ambivalent letters addressed to the intellectuals working at the Curia Romana, on the other, not only continue to raise philological, chronological, and theoretical issues connected to the genre par excellence, but also open a fruitful line of investigation on the authorial process of artistic invention and on literary self-consciousness. Both Boccaccio, the author of the first new epic poem in ottava, and Tasso, the author of the last canonical instance of this type, face difficulties in reconciling imitation of classical texts and innovation of that same tradition: difficulties that they both attempt to solve by the writing of these self-commentaries. These texts are examined focusing on the negotiations between such theories and practices, taking into account that they coexist and, simultaneously, clash.
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Review by Madison U. Sowell. Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 64, 2011. This intriguing study of authorial commentary surrounding Boccaccio's Teseida and Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata exemplifies the value of utilizing a blend of primary and secondary sources to accomplish serious research. Roberta Ricci divides her learned book into a lengthy introduction (focusing on methodology and hermeneutics), two chapters (one on Boccaccio's medieval poem and the other on Tasso's Counter-Reformation epic), two appendices, tavole (color illustrations of consulted manuscripts), and an Index Nominum. Succinct but impressive bibliographies accompany the main sections. .... I recommend this erudite book warmly not only to Boccaccio and Tasso specialists but also to scholars interested in the gamut of medieval and early modern autoexegesis. © COPYRIGHT 2011 The Renaissance Society of America
Publisher: Edizioni ETS, 2010. 258 pp..
Type: Multi-author monograph
ISBN: 978–88467257


Date: 4/1/2007
Organization: Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities (Bogliasco, Genova).
Abstract: Tasso’s missives (Chapter II) reveal the poet’s psychological vulnerability and his growing anxiety towards literary creation and critical theory, towards narration and reflexivity, towards religious censorship and literary self-consciousness. In the Lettere Tasso declares that he refuses to abandon the ambition of producing pleasure through poetry, yet he is not fully convinced of the moral worth of the episodes concerning the female gender. Tasso’s dual position also manifests itself in the opinions he holds of his editors: whom he perceived at times as “censors,” and at others as “readers.” Tasso’s letters of 1575-76 betray enough doubt and hesitation as well as opportunism and self-deception to make his ultimate claims for the allegorical design of his narrative seem like a cover-up. The chronicle of Tasso’s progress toward an allegorical vision of his epic reveals comparable conflicts and ambivalence which have often disposed commentators to suspect the validity of their final sol

Research Grant
Date: 7/1/2007
Abstract: I specifically pay attention to philological and historical issues concerning Boccaccio's Teseida commentary, which only in 1929 was recognized as autograph and thus integrated tout court with the poem. I argue that the Teseida’s paratext launches the beginning of Boccaccio’s humanistic production and represents a continuity in the author’s artistic iter. Therefore my research is not limited to examine the interdependence between poetry and prose within the Teseida, but stretches to discuss the continuum between this epic poem and Boccaccio’s subsequent erudite production written in Latin.

Research Grant
Date: 7/1/2009
Organization: Bryn Mawr College

International Center Grant
Date: 7/1/2009
Organization: Bryn Mawr College