- University of Chicago
Law and Justice in Dante’s Divine Comedy
This project examines the ideas of law and justice in Dante's Divine Comedy. It focuses on how the juridical structure of the poem foregrounds the precarious relationship between norm and exception even in God's justice. Beyond proposing a new approach to Dante's masterpiece, the study sheds light on pre-modern views of the exception and critically engages with contemporary discussions about both the rule of law and the conventions of art.
Mimesis on Trial: Boccaccio’s Realism, Judicial Inquest, and the Rise of the Novella
This project examines the influence of the inquisitorial trial—the most important development in legal procedure in Western Europe—on the most important development in Western literary style: the emergence of realistic representations of daily life. It traces this phenomenon through the novellas of fourteenth-century author and poet Giovanni Boccaccio, arguing that his celebrated realistic narratives, lifelike characters, and naturalistic dialogue are responses to the emergent prosecutorial trends of the period. By exploring the rhetorical and literary underpinnings of probable cause, legal representation, police surveillance, and discretionary punishment, Boccaccio’s work puts into critical dialogue two pillars of early modernity that otherwise may seem unrelated: realism and inquisition.