Building upon his 2008 book Dante and the Making of a Modern Author, Albert Russell Ascoli here reflects on the extent to which Petrarchs addresses to and figurations of his relationship to his readers intersect with the oft-asserted modernity of his authorial stances. In particular, Ascoli argues that following in the wake of Dantes double staging of himself as reader of his own works (especially in the Vita Nuova), Petrarch shows a keen and probing awareness of how the process of poetic signification involves a continual interchange between author and reader, as well as a strong desire to control the nature of that interchange as much as he can. Ascoli asserts that between Dante and Petrarch two primaryand contradictoryfeatures of literary modernity can be identified: the affirmation of the preeminence of authorial intention and the foregrounding of readerly freedom of interpretation.
The Aldo S. Bernardo Lecture Series in the Humanities honors Professor Emeritus Aldo S. Bernardo, his scholarship in medieval Italian literature, and his service to Binghamton University as Professor of Romance Languages and University Distinguished Service Professor. The Bernardo Lecture Series is endowed by the Bernardo Fund and administered by Binghamton Universitys Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS), which Professor Bernardo cofounded and codirected with Professor Bernard Huppé from 1966 to 1973. The series offers annual lectures by distinguished scholars on topics related to Professor Bernardos primary fields of interestmedieval and Renaissance Italian literature, with a particular focus on Dante Studies, and intellectual history.
Originally published in 1987.
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Along the way Ascoli interrogates the mechanisms of historical periodization that have governed for so long our study of what is sometimes called the "Renaissance," sometimes the early modern period. He also addresses the period's own unstable version of the literature/history opposition, the place of gendered discourse in the construction of historical narratives (and vice versa), the elaborate formal strategies by which poets and intellectuals negotiate their relations to power, and, finally, the way in which proper names (of authors, works, and exemplary characters) serve as points of negotiation between individual identity and social order in the Renaissance.
The book brings to culmination two decades of a major scholar's thinking about some of the most important figures and questions that shaped the Renaissance, with emphasis on the question of history, both the historical context of literature and the writing of literary history.