Excerpts from a conversation – parenthetical remarks are your narrator.
Prof: “I don’t see the link between Boccaccio’s Nero and civic humanism. What you’re trying to do is either really intelligent (!) or really problematic (read dumb).
H: “ummm… ok… let me try this… it’s a given that civic humanism is a constructed rubric… it never really existed, but the phenomenon that are usually used to characterize it DID exist. The revival in classical values and learning, which Boccaccio plays a key role in, caused a paradigm shift in the ways we approach education, specifically the humanities in education, and how said education was expected to create both a virtuous ruler and a ‘civic humanist.’ Now Boccaccio’s recounting of the life of Nero deals explicitly with the Emperor’s education and blames much of his corruption on poor upbringing. Furthermore, because we know that between the first and second edition Boccaccio discovered a new source, Tacitus, any changes he made were conscious efforts on his part to create a better tale. It’s these moments, and what they can tell us about what this pre-humanist thought about education that are going to be the most fruitful. If we trace the development of this new educational programme, we SHOULD come out with a better understanding of the cultural context which permitted it to happen. Shouldn’t we? Am i making sense?”
Prof: “Yes. You need to articulate that in your proposal.”
H: “So, what should i do now? Continue with the secondary readings or start transcribing and translating from the text to establish a preliminary textual analysis?”
Prof: “You’re much further ahead of the game than most people at this time of the year (!!!). You need to be doing both at this point… skipping back and forth. One informs the other.”
H: “But i’m on the right track?”
The only question is, does anyone else understand what i’m getting at?