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"Comic Relief" Online Seminar Series – University of Alabama Italian Program

Thursday, September 10, 2020  
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The Italian Program in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics at The University of Alabama presents “Comic Relief: Making the Best of Things in the Italian Tradition.”

Our new online seminar series investigates the comic and its uses in moments or situations of trouble: the five talks in our series will variously look at how instances of tribulation, crisis, or upheaval can be examined and made sense of through a comic lens, often leading to a cathartic experience. Featuring distinguished speakers from Italy and the United States, Comic Relief is an event designed for public in academia and beyond.

We are pleased to invite you to join us on Friday, September 18th at 4:00 pm (CT) on Zoom for the first event in our series:

  • Daniela D’Eugenio (University of Arkansas) “The Hopeless Tricked and the Clever Trickster from Boccaccio to Basile”

Medieval and Early Modern Italian literary texts include abundant tricks, usually played by clever people on simple-minded victims for amusement or profit. What makes a series of actions a trick? Are tricks only comic or can they cause tragic consequences? How does the interaction between the trickster and the tricked develop throughout the story and how is a larger community involved? In Boccaccio’s stories devoted to Calandrino in the Decameron, Antonio di Manetti’s The Fat Woodworker, and Giambattista Basile’s first tale of his The Tale of Tales, the way tricks are delivered, the effects they cause, and the evolution in the characters’ personalities offer many elements for interpreting comedy and irony and for analyzing the trickster’s mind. In these short stories and fables, even the most hopeless tricked character can evolve into a clever trickster.

To receive a Zoom link for this event, please complete the registration form at:

Upcoming seminars:

  • Oct. 23 – Alessandro Metlica (Università di Padova), “From Prison With Humor: Two Letters by Giovan Battista Marino”
  • Nov. 13 – Jane Tylus (Yale University), “Do Comedies All (Have to) End Happily? Scenes from Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and their Contemporaries”
  • Jan. 22 – David Ward (Wellesley College), “Italian Terrorism in Contemporary Italian Literature: Laughing at History”
  • Feb. 12 ­– Dana Renga (The Ohio State University), “Dark Serial Humour”

For more information about the “Comic Relief” series, please visit

Contacts: Jessica Goethals ( or Fabio Battista (

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