ITAL GA 1981: Studies in Italian Culture: Why Read this? Canon-formation in the early Italian Tradition
Although Italian was notoriously “slow” to emerge among vernacular literatures of the Middle Ages, it was the first to form a canon, a prescribed group of authors. By Chaucer’s time, Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio already formed a tradition. This phenomenon was in part an intentional project of the three crowns themselves, as scholars have recently shown, but was rendered possible in the particular social and economic context of Italian textual cultures involving new readers and writers of different social class and gender, new materials and new practices. The question of who read what, when and why will be asked of medieval texts as well as of metatexts that address the question explicitly. The course will also be an opportunity to consider canon-formation from a historical and theoretical perspective in a variety of chronological moments, up until the present day.