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Michael Sherberg
Washington University (St. Louis, MO 63130-4899)
A Reevaluation of Boccaccio's Decameron in the Context of Medieval and Modern Legal Theory

The project will result in a book-length manuscript that analyzes the Decameron from two complementary perspectives, medieval natural law theory and the theories of the twentieth-century legal scholar, Hans Kelsen. I argue that Boccaccio questions the natural law underpinnings of positive law; once the latter is separated from the former one must look elsewhere for a basis to positive law. Kelsen’s theories provide that basis in the notion that law functions as a coercive system rather than a transcendent moral one; Boccaccio makes a similar point both in his frame tale and in many of his novelle. The study will examine the implications for Boccaccio’s theoretical musings both in the Decameron’s frame tale and in the stories told.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Italian Literature

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2006 – 6/30/2007