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Martin Eisner, Professor and Chair

Martin Eisner

Martin Eisner is Chair of Romance Studies and Professor of Italian at Duke University. He is the author of  Dante's New Life of the Book: A Philology of World Literature (Oxford UP, 2021), which won the Howard R. Marraro Prize from the Modern Language Association. His first book Boccaccio and the Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti, and the Authority of the Vernacular (Cambridge UP, 2013) has recently been published in Italian as Boccaccio e l'invenzione della letteratura italiana (Salerno, 2022). He is currently working on a biography of Boccaccio for Reaktion Books's Renaissance Lives series. He continues to develop the online research project Dante’s Library. His articles on Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, and Machiavelli have appeared in PMLA, Renaissance Quarterly, Dante Studies, Mediaevalia, California Italian Studies, Quaderni d’Italianistica, Annali d’Italianistica and Le Tre Corone. His research has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the American Academy in Rome, the American Philosophical Association, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  205 Language Center, Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 660-3129
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:

Typical Courses Taught:

Office Hours:

To make an appointment, please contact the Assistant to the Chair, Hannah Blake-Harris at


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

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."


Boccaccio • Canzoniere • Commedia • Dante • Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. Divine comedy • Decameron • Divine Comedy • Lyric • Medieval • novella • Petrarch • Philology • Poetry • Textual Theory

Curriculum Vitae
Current Ph.D. Students  

  • Laura Banella  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. 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 (September, 2014), pp. 755-790, Cambridge University Press (CUP), ISSN 0034-4338 [repository], [doi]  [abs]
  2. Eisner, MG, The Word Made Flesh in Inferno 5: Francesca Reading and the Figure of the Annunciation in Dante’s Commedia (2013) [repository]
  3. Eisner, MG, Boccaccio e l’invenzione della letteratura italiana, vol. 1 (2014), pp. 11-26 [repository]
  4. 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, University of Toronto Press, ISBN 9781442616448
  5. Eisner, MG, Eroticizing Theology in Day Three and the Poetics of the Decameron, vol. 31 (2013), pp. 207-224 [repository]  [abs]
  6. Eisner, MG, The Return to Philology and the Future of Literary Criticism: Reading the Temporality of Literature in Auerbach, Benjamin, and Dante (December, 2011) [4gq644zp]
  7. Eisner, M; Schachter, M, Libido Sciendi: Apuleius, Boccaccio and the History of Sexuality, Pmla, vol. 124 no. 3 (May, 2009), pp. 817-837, Modern Language Association (MLA) [doi]  [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.      

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