Italian 102: Boccaccio's Decameron - Online Activities

Week 230 January   Overview of the Decameron Web
Week 36 February1:  Illness and disease
Week 413 February2:  Structures
Week 520 February3:  Virtue
Week 627 February4:  Love
Week 76 March5:  Nature and landscape
Week 813 March6:  The motto
Week 920 March7:  Infidelity
Week 113 April8:  Fortune
Week 1210 April9:  Social Order
Week 1317 April10:  Values
Week 1424 April11:  The position of the Author

The online exercises are meant to help the class with textual analysis. Every week, the students will investigate the text of the Decameron through the electronic environment of the Decameron Web, via a series of guided textual analyses. These exercises will complement the students' readings and the discussions in class, and will provide raw data which can be integrated into more traditional discussions of the text (in papers or in class).

Each student is required to write a short report describing their weekly electronic textual analysis, which is to be submitted in the Thursday class. Reports will be returned to the students and will be discussed briefly in group before the next activity.

We recognize that this type of textual analysis will be new to most, if not all, of the students, and will therefore provide guidelines and suggestions at all times. In the same spirit of creative investigation, we do not want to prescribe the length of the reports, and will thus merely suggest desirable word limits. However, we hope that as the semester progresses, and as the students become more familiar both with the technology and the text of the Decameron, that they will move beyond a simple delineation of their results to a more integrated and personal study of the text. The weekly reports will be marked on a simple check-plus/check/check-minus scale.

Assessment Breakdown

Performance, participation in class, and online activities:  30%
Midterm:  30%
Final project:  40%

Online Activities Guide

The subjects for the weekly textual analysis have been chosen for their importance to the text of the Decameron as a whole, and their relation to the themes of the various days. The textual analyses will thus serve several important functions: to allow the students to familiarize themselves with the unique facilities offered by the Decameron Web and this course; to navigate through the text in an investigative, non-linear way; and to build their own psycho-geography of the text based on their individual findings. In a broader sense, these exercises will also allow the students to gain experience in computer-assisted literary analysis, which may be applied to other texts they will encounter throughout their studies (the explosion of out-of-copyright texts and other electronic resources online should ensure that students will find other core texts). For non-literature or language specialists, the electronic medium facilitates a new way in to a sometimes dauntingly dense book.

The Decameron Web allows students to investigate the text either in the original Italian or in English translation. The basic keywords for each themed exercise will be supplied in both languages, and qualified students are urged to use the Italian text rather than the Rigg translation on the site. The presence of both texts allows a comparison of the lexical choices made by the English translator, and students may wish to investigate further this aspect of the text in their weekly lab sessions. The instructor will suggest the basic keywords for each theme, but students are encouraged to follow their intuition and their findings to see where their research takes them. After the weekly reports are submitted for grading, the students will post their findings on an open-access folder on the server where they may access each other's work and contribute to a collaborative electronic environment.