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Gendered Contexts

New Perspectives in Italian Cultural Studies

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Edited By Laura Benedetti, Julia Hairston and Julia L. Hairston

The application of feminist thought to the study of Italian culture is generating some of the most innovative work in the field today. This volume presents a range of essays which focus on the construction of gender in Italian literature as well as essays in feminist theory. The contributions reflect the current diversity of critical approaches available to those interrogating gender and offer interpretations of prose, poetry, theater, and the visual arts from Boccaccio, Michelangelo, and Galileo to contemporary Italian writers such as Carla Cerati and Dacia Maraini.

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Aspects of Nudity in the Decameron: Tommasina Gabriele 31

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Aspects of Nudity in the Decameron Tommasina Gabriele To undertake a discussion of nudity in Decameron is to provoke immedi- ately images of bawdy bedroom scenes and erotic enticement. 1 This is hardly surprising in view of the Decameron's reputation; Boccaccio himself introduces the "moral" issue of "licentiousness" which then escalates during the Counter Reformation and beyond.2 In fact, not sur- prisingly, one modem dictionary defines "boccaccesco" not only as "secondo lo stile e la maniera del Boccaccio," but as "licenzioso, sbocca- to. "3 Many critics of the Decameron deem this erotic dimension a posi- tive aspect, fundamental to Boccaccio's understanding of human nature and to his contributions to literature. Aldo Scaglione observes: "More than just 'naive,' spontaneous, natural, Boccaccio's love is 'naturalistic' inasmuch as it is an urge that engages the whole human being, body and soul, muscles and mind, senses, will, and intellect, all at the service of natural desires. "4 Others, however, reject such an interpretation of the De cameron and would thus reject this study out of hand. They seek to redeem Boccaccio's masterpiece from centuries of "mishandling" and emphasize the function of Intelligence as an ideal in the Decameron. A well-known scholar of Boccaccio once said: "I continue to maintain that there is no nudity in the Decameron." This group feels that Boccaccio is reserved, reticent in the description of sexual episodes. Yet the results of this study would confound the expectations of the proponents of both of these visions of Decameron. A linguistic...

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