Telling 100 Stories: Italian History and Culture in Special Collections

Boccaccio, Il Decamerone, ed. Nicolò Delfino (Venice, 1516). Newly acquired by the Department of Special Collections.

September 3 – December 13, 2019 

Framed by Boccaccio’s Decameron, a collection of tales set during the Plague, this exhibit highlighted our strong holdings pertaining to Italy, its history, language, and culture, in conjunction with the fourth triennial conference of the American Boccaccio Association, held in Madison in October 2019. Local sponsor of the conference was the Department of French & Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Among the themes explored in the exhibit were

  • Boccaccio, his life and work
  • Dante and Petrarca
  • wit
  • deception
  • fortune
  • love
  • Italian literary history
  • philology and language
  • Italian history and geography
  • stories in the tradition of the Decameron
  • fortune
  • death
  • women and feminism
  • religion
  • science, nature, and health
  • cruelty
  • printing traditions
  • animals
  • sex
  • food.
Bindings from the Fry Collection of Italian History and Culture. Photo by Eric Ferguson.

Books and manuscripts on display dated from the 15th through the 20th century; many were in Italian, but English, French, Spanish, and Latin were also represented. We were particularly pleased to include works by Italian women writers and to feature items from such collections as the Fry Collection on Italian History and Culture.

Curated by Lisa Wettleson and Carly Sentieri with Nick O’Connell and Robin Rider.