Contamination, contagion and the animal function in Boccaccio's Decameron

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This paper explores the element of contamination as contagion in Boccaccio's Decameron, presenting the hypothesis that the text establishes a conceptual connection between contagion and the contact between human and non human animals. The metaphorical quality of animal references in the Decameron, then, acquires a different dimension. Non human animals aren't just partners and effective qualifiers in human life: they become catalysts for a potential reflection on contamination and death, on alteration and illness, a reflection that, I would argue, will be part of scientific advancements to come, and will ultimately find its greatest interpreter in the sixteenth century physician Girolamo Fracastoro.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-114
Number of pages22
JournalCritica del Testo
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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