Italian Studies 215 : Ariostan Histories: From Romance to Epic to Novel

Instructor: Professor Albert R. Ascoli

This course fulfills an elective requirement for the DE in REMS.

Our aim will be to situate Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, the most widely read literary text of the sixteenth century, at a pivotal place within an array of literary, cultural, and socio-political histories. Most prominently, from a literary-historical point of view, the Furioso may be situated within two genealogies that are often read in opposition to one another: the Renaissance recuperation of classical epic poetry in the Virgilian (and Homeric) mode through a filter of chivalric romance (culminating in Tasso and Milton), and the early modern passage from romance, novella, and other late medieval genres to what would become the literary genre par excellence in centuries to come, the novel (the first great exemplars being Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel and Cervantes’ Don Quixote). The course will begin with a survey of classical, late medieval and early Renaissance precursors of the Furioso (most notably the Aeneid and Boiardo’s Innamoramento di Orlando) and conclude with some weeks dedicated to genealogical aftermath of the Furioso, above all in Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata. The “body” of the course will, needless to say, be dedicated to a close study of the Furioso itself.

Students are expected to attend and participate regularly. There will be occasional in-class presentations and some shorter writing assignments. The principal assignment for the course is a research paper of ca. 6000 words (ca. 25 pages). Topics must be closely related to the concerns of the course although they may focus on authors and texts not directly treated in seminar (whether from Italy or another national/linguistic tradition). Students enrolled for two credits will not write a final essay, but will complete all other course assignments, plus two shorter papers (ca. 5 pages) over the course of the semester.

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes