Kennen Sie schon … das Decameron Web?

Das Decameron Web, entwick­elt vom Vir­tu­al Human­i­ties Lab des Ital­ian Stud­ies Depart­ment der Brown Uni­ver­si­ty in Prov­i­dence in den USA, enthält die Voll­texte von Boc­cac­cios Werken „Il Decamerone“, „Il Cor­bac­cio“ und „Ele­gia di Madon­na Fiammet­ta“ sowie zwei englis­che Über­set­zun­gen des „Decameron”. Außer­dem gibt es eine Konko­r­danz des „Decameron” und zahlre­iche Hin­ter­grund­in­for­ma­tio­nen zum Autor und dem Kon­text seines Werks, Lehr­ma­te­ri­alien sowie eine umfan­gre­iche Forschungs­bib­li­ogra­phie (die allerd­ings nicht mehr aktu­al­isiert wird).

Few great books like the Decameron have shaped our very notion of sto­ry­telling and its cru­cial role in the nego­ti­a­tion and pro­duc­tion of shared social and cul­tur­al val­ues. In its hun­dred sto­ries, shared in ten days by ten young peo­ple escap­ing the Plague in mid-14th-cen­tu­ry Flo­rence, it com­bines sheer enter­tain­ment with a mean­ing­ful human­is­tic mes­sage. A trib­ute to human inge­nu­ity, an epic mas­ter­piece of a ris­ing, dynam­ic mer­can­tile soci­ety that pur­sues plea­sure while being threat­ened by sud­den extinc­tion, the Decameron can be read as a trans­gres­sive and escapist man­u­al of behav­ior as well as a bre­viary of moral predica­ments intend­ed for a sec­u­lar, unprej­u­diced read­er. As one crit­ic (Gui­do Alman­si) put it: „The text can per­haps give the impres­sion of being out­ra­geous­ly amoral; our read­ing, on the oth­er hand, can turn into eth­i­cal med­i­ta­tion; the for­mer does not exclude the oth­er.“ In his West­ern Canon Harold Bloom thus recent­ly acknowl­edges the cru­cial posi­tion of Boccaccio’s Decameron : „Iron­ic sto­ry­telling whose sub­ject is sto­ry­telling is pret­ty much Boccaccio’s inven­tion, and the pur­pose of this break­through was to free sto­ries from didac­ti­cism and moral­ism, so that the lis­ten­er or read­er, not the sto­ry­teller, became respon­si­ble for their use, for good or for ill.“ The Decameron has elicit­ed through­out the cen­turies fun­da­men­tal dis­cus­sions on the nature of nar­ra­tive art, on the tenets of medieval ver­sus mod­ern moral­i­ty, on the social and edu­ca­tion­al val­ue of any form of artis­tic and lit­er­ary expres­sion. A true ency­clo­pe­dia of ear­ly mod­ern life and a sum­ma of late medieval cul­ture, the Decameron is also a uni­ver­sal reper­to­ry of peren­ni­al­ly human sit­u­a­tions and dilem­mas: it is the per­fect sub­ject for an exper­i­ment in a new form of schol­ar­ly and ped­a­gog­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion aimed at renew­ing a liv­ing dia­logue between a dis­tant past and our present.

The guid­ing ques­tion of our project is how con­tem­po­rary infor­ma­tion­al tech­nol­o­gy can facil­i­tate, enhance and inno­vate the com­plex cog­ni­tive and learn­ing activ­i­ties involved in read­ing a late medieval lit­er­ary text like Boccaccio’s Decameron. We believe that the new elec­tron­ic envi­ron­ment and its tools enable us to revive the human­is­tic spir­it of com­mu­nal and col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly „play­ful“ learn­ing of which the Decameron itself is the utmost expres­sion. Through a cre­ative use of tech­nol­o­gy, our project pro­vides the read­er with an eas­i­ly acces­si­ble and flex­i­ble yet well-struc­tured wealth of infor­ma­tion on the lit­er­ary, his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al con­text of the Decameron, thus allow­ing a vivid yet rig­or­ous­ly philo­log­i­cal under­stand­ing of the past in which the work was con­ceived. At the same time, our project is meant to facil­i­tate the cre­ative expres­sion of a mul­ti­plic­i­ty of per­spec­tives which ani­mate our con­tem­po­rary read­ings. By rec­on­cil­ing in a col­lab­o­ra­tive fash­ion the reader’s free­dom with a sound cog­ni­tion of seri­ous, schol­ar­ly achieve­ments in the study of the Decameron, our project is also an exam­ple of how new tech­nolo­gies can pro­vide an inno­v­a­tive ped­a­gog­i­cal medi­um for a ful­fill­ing edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence based on a lit­er­ary text that is open to a vari­ety of cul­tur­al inter­ests and lev­els of learn­ing.

Intend­ed pri­ma­ry ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the project are col­lege and high school teach­ers and stu­dents, but inde­pen­dent read­ers and schol­ars inter­est­ed in the Decameron itself or aspects of it that are relat­ed to their spe­cif­ic areas of inter­est will ben­e­fit from it, regard­less of their geo­graph­ic loca­tion or insti­tu­tion­al affil­i­a­tion. Our group and class­room at Brown Uni­ver­si­ty will serve as the gate­way to a vir­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty of read­ers and stu­dents of the Decameron who are engaged in a vari­ety of didac­tic and schol­ar­ly pur­suits and as a forum for dis­cus­sions of their method­olo­gies and crit­i­cal per­spec­tives. In short, we believe that our project can pro­vide its ben­e­fi­cia­ries with a sort of spe­cial­ized book­shelf or mini-library gen­er­at­ed from and exist­ing along­side a read­ing of Boccaccio’s mas­ter­piece. This mini-library or vir­tu­al ency­clo­pe­dia includes the text in its estab­lished crit­i­cal edi­tion (Bran­ca), sources, trans­la­tions, anno­ta­tions and com­men­taries, bib­li­ogra­phies, a grow­ing selec­tion of crit­i­cal and inter­pre­tive essays, as well as visu­al and audio mate­ri­als. These resources are all hyper­tex­tu­al­ly linked and com­ple­ment­ed by a vari­ety of ana­lyt­i­cal tools and search engines meant to make your explo­ration of the site easy and reward­ing. Most impor­tant­ly, we con­ceive of this cor­pus and its basic struc­ture as a point of depar­ture for a wide range of col­lab­o­ra­tive activ­i­ties which will enhance the project’s future growth accord­ing to the inter­ests and con­tri­bu­tions of the vir­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty of stu­dents, teach­ers, schol­ars and read­ers of the Decameron. To this end, we warm­ly encour­age all of our users to make full use of these mate­ri­als and to par­tic­i­pate active­ly in the site’s expan­sion. Please feel free to send us your com­ments, ideas and, if you like, even con­tri­bu­tions to be added to what is already here.

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