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Title: Gender, language and authorship in Boccaccio's Decameron
Author: Harrison, H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2010
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Women and their position in society are placed at the forefront of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, from the dedication of the work to women in love. While some scholars have focused on the narrators of the brigata, and others have studied individual novelle, the aim of this thesis is to present a global view of the issues and concerns debated by the author regarding female use of language. The thesis consists of five chapters; ‘Gender, Language and Authorship’ positions my work in relation to the wider field of Boccaccio studies. It addresses the difficult issue of the narrative’s first speaker being a woman who speaks in church. ‘Language and Ethics’ examines transgressive feminine speech in the Decameron, particularly when this encroaches on areas of exclusively male learning. ‘When Women’s Words Fail’ revolves around the varying amounts of praise or censure afforded to the Decameron’s women speakers, and the factors which determine the success of an individual’s discourse. ‘Silence and Virtue in the Decameron’ examines the role of silence, investigating the extent to which silence is presented as a rhetorical strategy in itself, and its effectiveness as such. ‘Gendered Narration in the brigata’ addresses the relationship which the members of the brigata have to language, particularly the way in which the presentation of speakers in tales is dependent on both the gender of the brigata narrator, and on the gender of the character they describe. The conclusion asserts that the author appears to have a highly ambivalent view of rhetoric, resulting from a concern not with gender, but from an awareness of the power inherent in words. With this caveat, the presentation of female speakers in the Decameron does appear to advocate reduced restrictions on women’s speech.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available