Natalie Cleaver

Dissertation Fellow
2011-2012
Image of Natalie Cleaver.

For Natalie Cleaver (Comparative Literature), Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron violates our expectations of the medieval text in many ways, marked as it is throughout by internal contradiction, moral ambivalence, and its author’s equivocal voice. In “Authorizing the Reader: Dante and the Ends of the Decameron,” Ms. Cleaver argues that Boccaccio stages various kinds of “failures” in the Decameron in order to train readers who are capable of understanding how literary texts produce authority. The project specifically reframes the errant mutamento of the Decameron as a response to Dante’s construction of authorship. Where Dante works to constrain interpretations of his writing, the Decameron creates a flawed and errant authorial persona who draws attention to those moments most open to multiple and conflicting interpretation and who denies his own ability to control meaning, emphasizing in its place the reader’s interpretative freedom and responsibility.

Ms. Cleaver is also the recipient of the Norman Jacobson Memorial Teaching award.