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Martin Eisner, Associate Professor of Romance Studies and Medieval & Renaissance Studies

Martin Eisner

Martin Eisner is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at Duke University. He specializes in medieval Italian literature, particularly the works of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, as well as the history of the book and media.

He is the author of Boccaccio and the Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti, and the Authority of the Vernacular (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which examines a single manuscript, Vatican Library, Chigi L V 176, written entirely in Boccaccio’s hand, which compiles works of Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti and Boccaccio himself. This study reveals Boccaccio’s key role in the creation of the Italian literary tradition not only as author of the Decameron but also as a scholar and scribe. The research and writing of the book was supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the American Philosophical Association, and the Fulbright Foundation. 

His new book project, Dante and the Afterlife of the Book continues to integrate philological materials into literary criticism, but takes a diachronic instead of synchronic approach by analyzing the material tradition of Dante's first book, Vita nuova, from its earliest manuscripts to the most recent editions and adaptations. Experimenting with a new mode of literary history that takes the literary work’s survival seriously, the book both recounts a fascinating history of reception and rereads Dante’s enigmatic first book through the lens of these later transformations, alterations, and appropriations. This project received the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome.

Eisner is also the editor-in-chief of a new online research project entitled Dante’s Library, sponsored by a Humanities Writ Large Grant, which aims to reconstruct the material texts of the literary, philosophical, and theology works that Dante would have known and read.

He has also published several articles on Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch that have appeared in PMLA, Renaissance Quarterly, Dante Studies, California Italian Studies, Annali d’Italianistica and Le Tre Corone.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  05 Language Center, Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 660-3129
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:  https://duke.academia.edu/MartinEisner

Teaching (Fall 2018):

  • ROMST 205.01, THE PROBLEM OF LOVE Synopsis
    Languages 109, MW 11:45 AM-01:00 PM
    (also cross-listed as ITALIAN 225.01, LIT 205.01, MEDREN 304.01)
Office Hours:

Fall 2018: Wednesday 1:30-2:30. 
Spring 2019: On leave.
Education:

Ph.D.Columbia University2005
M.Phil.Columbia University2002
B.A.Columbia University1999
Specialties:

Italian Studies
Early Modern
Research Interests: Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch, medieval lyric poety, the European novella tradition, and material philology/textual theory

Martin Eisner (Ph.D., Columbia University, 2005) is Associate Professor of Italian Studies and Director of Graduate Studies for the Center of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. His research explores medieval Italian literature, particularly the works of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, as well as the history of the book and media. His first book, Boccaccio and the Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti, and the Authority of the Vernacular (Cambridge University Press, 2013), joins material philology to intellectual history in its exploration of Boccaccio’s transcriptions of Dante, Petrarch, and Cavalcanti in Chigi L V 176. It argues that Boccaccio plays a key role in the creation of the Italian literary tradition not only as author but also as scholar and scribe. His new book project, Dante and the Afterlife of the Book: Rematerializing Literary History, continues to integrate philological materials into literary criticism, but takes a diachronic rather than synchronic approach in its analysis of the material tradition of Dante's first book, the Vita nuova, from its earliest manuscripts to the most recent editions and adaptations. His research has also been supported by the Fulbright Foundation, the American Philosophical Association, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and the American Academy in Rome. He has also published articles in PMLA, Renaissance Quarterly, Dante Studies, and California Italian Studies. He regularly teaches courses on Dante and Boccaccio that are taught in English with discussion sections for students who can read the text in Italian as well. Recent graduate courses include “Boccaccio’s Decameron and the Future of Literary Criticism," “Dante's Books,” and "Boccaccio's Women."

Keywords:

Dante • Boccaccio • Petrarch • Medieval • Lyric • Poetry • Textual Theory • Philology • novella • Canzoniere • Decameron • Commedia • Divine Comedy

Curriculum Vitae
Current Ph.D. Students  

  • Laura Banella  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Eisner, MG, Boccaccio and the Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti and the Authority of the Vernacular (2013) [9781107041660]  [abs]
  2. Eisner, M, In the Labyrinth of the Library: Petrarch’s Cicero, Dante’s Virgil, and the Historiography of the Renaissance, Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 67 no. 3 (2014), pp. 755-790, ISSN 0034-4338 [repository], [doi]  [abs]
  3. Eisner, MG, The Word Made Flesh in Inferno 5: Francesca Reading and the Figure of the Annunciation in Dante’s Commedia, Dante Studies (Accepted, 2013) [repository]
  4. Eisner, MG, Boccaccio e l’invenzione della letteratura italiana, Le Tre Corone, vol. 1 (2014), pp. 11-26 [repository]
  5. Eisner, M, The Tale of Ferondo’s Purgatory (III.8), in The Decameron: Third Day, edited by Forni, PM; Ciabattoni, F (2014), pp. 153-173
  6. Eisner, MG, Eroticizing Theology in Day Three and the Poetics of the Decameron, Annali D’Italianistica, vol. 31 (2013), pp. 207-224 [repository]  [abs]
  7. Eisner, MG, The Return to Philology and the Future of Literary Criticism: Reading the Temporality of Literature in Auerbach, Benjamin, and Dante, California Italian Studies (December, 2011) [4gq644zp]
  8. Eisner, M; Schachter, M, Libido Sciendi: Apuleius, Boccaccio and the History of Sexuality, Pmla (May, 2009)  [abs]
Selected Invited Talks

  1. “Con le Muse in Parnaso: Boccaccio’s Ideas of Cultural Renaissance between Dante and Petrarch.”, October, 2013, A Boccaccian Renaissance. University of California, Berkeley/Stanford Conference    
  2. "The Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, and Cavalcanti in Boccaccio’s Hand.”, September, 2013, NYU in Florence, La Pietra    
  3. “Boccaccio in Venice: The 1363 Mission to Petrarch.” Boccaccio Veneto: Cultural crossing in the Medieval Mediterranean.", June, 2013, Casa Artom, Wake Forest University, Venice    
  4. “Boccaccio’s Open Book: Chigi L V 176 and the Invention of Italian Literature.”, June, 2013, Boccaccio and Chaucer Conference. Università di Roma, La Sapienza    
  5. "Mediating Dante: Boccaccio and the Transformation of a Modern Author.", May, 2013, Dante Society of America, Annual Meeting, Cambridge, MA.    
Selected Grant Support

  • Lily Auchincloss Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome (Medieval Competition) 2013-14.      
  • Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome (Renaissance Competition).      
  • Faculty Book Workshop, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.      
  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, Institute for Advanced Studies.      
  • Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society.      
  • Fulbright Fellow.      

Professor Eisner has a B.A. in Italian (1999) and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (2005) from Columbia University. His research and teaching focus on medieval Italian literature, particularly the works of Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. He is in the process of completing his first book, tentatively entitled “The Poetics of Mediation: Boccaccio and the Cultivation of Italian Literature in the Age of Manual Reproduction,” which analyzes Boccaccio’s transcriptions of the vernacular works of Dante, Petrarch, and Cavalcanti in what is now the Vatican's Chigi L V 176. His next book project, "Rematerializing Literary History: The Afterlives of Dante’s ‘Vita Nuova’" continues to integrate philological materials into literary criticism, but takes a diachronic rather than synchronic approach in its analysis of the material tradition of Dante's first book, from its earliest manuscripts to the most recent editions and adaptations. He is also the author of published and forthcoming articles on Petrarch and Boccaccio. His other research interests include medieval lyric poetry, the European novella tradition, and material philology/textual theory/book history. For more bibliographic details, see his publications and honors. His courses on Dante and Boccaccio are both taught in English, but there will be discussion sections for students who can read the text in Italian as well. In the Spring 2010, he will teach a seminar for undergraduates and graduate students on The Materiality of Literature (RS150S/200S).


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