ITAL 214 - The Power of Satire and the Limitations of the Laws in Ancient Rome and Medieval Italy

A research seminar on satire, its power and limitations, with a focus on the Roman and medieval periods. Serving as both a critique of social norms and the oppression of minorities (anti-women, anti-Jews, etc.), satire has been one of the most practiced and effective languages in classical Rome (Horace, Persius, Juvenal) and medieval culture, especially in Italy (Poeti Giocosi, Dante, Boccaccio). By ridiculing ideas, habits or specific individuals, satire challenges and constantly reshapes moral, legal as well as formal-rhetorical boundaries. We will discuss various definitions of the genre, with readings on the theory, functions and limitations of satire, focusing on the intellectual debate and juridical responses (censorship, criminal law, libel writs, etc.) that have accompanied satirical expressions across the centuries. Satirical artefacts examined during the seminars include poems, novels, theatrical plays and defamatory paintings. Course site:
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