Kristina Marie Olson

Kristina Marie Olson

Kristina Marie Olson

Italian Program Coordinator

Associate Professor

Italian: Medieval and Renaissance studies, Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, gender studies, reception studies

I research the works of medieval Italian authors, namely the "tre corone" (the "three crowns") of Italian literature: Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. I read their works through the lens of history, and especially politics and gender. Several of my articles explore the reception of Dante in 20th and 21st century art and literature.
 
My current book project, Dante's Sartorial Poetics, examines dress and ornamentation in Dante's works as an essential part of his poetic project. By approaching the Divine Comedy in terms of the key elements of the medieval wardrobe, Dante's Sartorial Poetics incorporates the rich literary and visual iconographies of dress from ancient and medieval periods into our reading of his poem.
 
Courtesy Lost: Dante, Boccaccio and the Literature of History (University of Toronto Press, 2014), my first monograph, reads Dante’s influence on Boccaccio through the lens of "cortesia" (chivalry, courtesy) in the late medieval period.
 
Together with Christopher Kleinhenz (Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison), I edited a new edited volume, Approaches to Teaching Dante's Divine Comedy, with the Modern Language Association's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series (2020).
 
I serve as the current President of the American Boccaccio Association. I am an Associate Editor for Digital Dante and serve on the Editorial Boards of Dante Studies and Bibliotheca Dantesca. I was Vice President of the Dante Society of America from 2016-18. 
 
Recently, I created an Italian language course with The Teaching Company (Great Courses), titled "Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region," which was released in December 2020. This course includes 24 video lectures and an accompanying workbook, which I co-authored with Alyssa Falcone. For Audible, I wrote and recorded an audiobook, Books that Matter: The Decameron, that reads the Decameron in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Selected Publications

(See attached CV for complete list.)

Monograph

Edited Volumes

  • Approaches to Teaching Dante’s Divine Comedy. Second edition. Edited with Christopher Kleinhenz. Series: Approaches to Teaching World Literature. New York: Modern Language Association, 2020.
  • Boccaccio 1313-2013. Edited with Francesco Ciabattoni and Elsa Filosa. Ravenna: Longo Editore, 2015.
  • Open City: Seven Writers in Post-War Rome. Edited with William Weaver. South Royalton, VT: Steerforth Press, 1999.

Selected Articles

  • "Migrant Purgatories: Dante, Lô, Nabil, and Sedira," Le Tre Corone. Rivista internazionale di studi su Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio VIII (forthcoming, 2021).
  • “’Maintaining Neutrality in a Period of Moral Crisis’: The Appropriation of Inferno 3 from JFK to Martha Nussbaum.” In Dante Beyond Borders, ed. Nick Havely (Cambridge: Legenda, forthcoming Fall 2021).
  • “Dante in a Global World: Sandow Birk’s Divine Comedy.” In Unexpected Dante, ed. Lucia Wolf, Bucknell University Press (forthcoming, December 2021).
  • Lectura Boccaccii, 4.5: Lisabetta da Messina.” In The Decameron Day Four in Perspective, ed. Michael Sherberg. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020, pp. 86-106.
  • “Legacies of Greed and Liberality: Angevin Rulers in Dante and Boccaccio,” Studi sul Boccaccio XLVII (2019): 181-201.

 

Expanded Publication List

Articles and Book Chapters

  1. “’Maintaining Neutrality in a Period of Moral Crisis’: The Appropriation of Inferno 3 from JFK to Martha Nussbaum.” In Dante Beyond Borders, ed. Nick Havely (Cambridge: Legenda, forthcoming Fall 2021).
  2. “Dante in a Global World: Sandow Birk’s Divine Comedy.” In Unexpected Dante, ed. Lucia Wolf, Bucknell University Press (forthcoming, 2021).
  3. "Migrant Purgatories: Dante, Lô, Nabil, and Sedira," Le Tre Corone. Rivista internazionale di studi su Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio VIII (forthcoming, 2021).
  4. “Dante and Economics,” Dante Studies: The Annual Publication of the Dante Society of America 138 (2021): 195-202.
  5. Lectura Boccaccii, 4.5: Lisabetta da Messina.” In The Decameron Day Four in Perspective, ed. Michael Sherberg. University of Toronto Press, 2020, pp. 86-106.
  6. “Conceptions of Women and Gender in the Comedy.” In Approaches to Teaching Dante’s Divine Comedy, second edition, edited by Christopher Kleinhenz and Kristina Olson. Series: Approaches to Teaching World Literature. New York: Modern Language Association, 2020.
  7. “Legacies of Greed and Liberality: Angevin Rulers in Dante and Boccaccio,” Studi sul Boccaccio XLVII (2019): 181-201.
  8. “The Ethical and Sartorial Geography of the Far East: Tartar Textiles in Boccaccio’s Decameron and Esposizioni,” Le Tre Corone. Rivista internazionale di studi su Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio VI (2019): 125-139.
  9. “Shoes, Gowns, and Turncoats: Reconsidering Cacciaguida’s History of Florentine Fashion and Politics,” Dante Studies: The Annual Publication of the Dante Society of America 134 (2016): 26-47.
  10. “Uncovering the Historical Body of Florence: Dante, Boccaccio and Sumptuary Legislation,” Italian Culture 33:1 (March 2015): 1-15.
  11. “Dante’s Urban American Vernacular: Sandow Birk’s Divine Comedy.” Special Edition: “New Voices in Dante Criticism,” Dante Studies: The Annual Publication of the Dante Society of America 131 (2013): 143-169.
  12. “The Language of Women as Written by Men: Dante, Boccaccio, and Gendered Histories of the Vernacular,” Heliotropia 8-9 (2011-12, http://www.heliotropia.org/08-09/olson.pdf) Reprinted in Heliotropia 700/10: A Boccaccio Anniversary Volume (LED, 2013), pp. 217-236.
  13. “Resurrecting Dante’s Florence: Figural Realism in the Decameron and the Esposizioni,” Modern Language Notes 124:1 (January 2009): 45-65.
  14. “’Concivis meus’: Petrarch’s Rerum memorandarum libri 2.60, Boccaccio’s Decameron 6.9, and the Specter of Dino del Garbo,” Annali d’Italianistica 24 (2005): 375-80.

Short Essays and Translations

  1. “Worse than Dante’s Hell: Parents, Children and Pain at the Border,” Dante Notes, September 28, 2018   (https://www.dantesociety.org/node/132).
  2. “Selected Illustrations from Birk’s Comedy.” Birk Illustrations, Digital Dante. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2017. (https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/image/birk-illustrations/inferno/)
  3. Selected poetry from Amelia Rosselli’s Documento. Published in the Italian Poetry Review, volume 4 (Società editrice fiorentina, 2009).

Reviews and Review Articles

  1. Review of Marilyn Migiel, The Ethical Dimension of the Decameron (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2015). Heliotropia, 16-19 (2019-20): 297-300.
  2. Review of Sherry Roush, Speaking Spirits: Ventriloquizing the Dead in Renaissance Italy (University of Toronto Press, 2015). Speculum 92:2 (April 2017): 580-81.
  3. Review of Boccaccio: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works, eds. Victoria Kirkham, Michael Sherberg and Janet Levarie Smarr (University of Chicago Press, 2013). Modern Philology 113: 4 (May 2016): 217-224.
  4. Review of Money, Morality, and Culture in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, eds. Juliann Vitullo and Diane Wolfthal, (Ashgate Publishing Company, 2010). Annali d’Italianista 30 (2012): 509-511.
  5. Review of Tobias Foster Gittes, Boccaccio’s Naked Muse: Eros, Culture, and the Mythopoeic Imagination (University of Toronto Press, 2007). Heliotropia, 6:1-2 (2009): 63-66.
  6. Review of Olivia Holmes, Dante’s Two Beloveds (Yale University Press, 2007). The Medieval Review, July 1, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.baj9928.0907.001.
  7. Review article of Claire Honess, From Florence to the Heavenly City: The Poetry of Citizenship in Dante (Legenda, 2006). Symposium 61:3 (Fall 2007): 211-216.

Courses Taught

At George Mason University:

  • ITAL 110: Elementary Italian
  • ITAL 201/210: Intermediate Italian I
  • ITAL 202/250: Intermediate Italian II
  • ITAL 320: Italian Cinema / Neorealism and Global Cinema
  • ITAL 325: Major Italian Writers ("Dante's Divine Comedy"; "Dante's Inferno"; "The Literature of the Black Death: Boccaccio's Decameron")
  • ITAL 330/331: Advanced Italian: Language and Culture
  • ITAL 340: Italian through the Arts (Film / Opera)
  • ITAL 360: The Italian South
  • ITAL 420: Global and Local Italy
  • FRLN 330: Topics in World Literature
  • FRLN 550: Boccaccio's Decameron
  • HNRS 122/230: The Language of Empire: Ancient Rome, Italy and Africa

Thesis Advisor and Reader (at Mason)

  • URSP Mentor for Giovanna Uberti, August-December 2017. Project Title: “Urban Policing in Contemporary Italy.” George Mason University.
  • URSP Mentor and English Honors Thesis Advisor for Georgia Wood, June 2014-May 2015. Project Title: “The ‘Divine’ Revisited: Reflections of Dante’s Divine Comedy in Toni Morrison’s Trilogy.” George Mason University.

Extramural Teaching

  • The Teaching Company/Audible (Great Courses). Course title: "Books That Matter: Boccaccio's Decameron." April 2021.
  • The Teaching Company (Great Courses). Course title: "Learning Italian: Step by Step and Region by Region," December 2020.
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Fairfax, Virginia. Course title: Dante’s Inferno. Spring 2017.
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Fairfax, Virginia. Course title: Dante’s Purgatorio. Spring 2018.
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Fairfax, Virginia. Course title: Dante’s Paradiso. Spring 2019.

Education

  • Ph.D., Department of Italian, Columbia University (2006)
  • M.A., Department of Italian, Columbia University (2001)
  • B.A., Division of Languages and Literatures, Bard College (1998)

Recent Presentations

  • "Separated by the State: Parental Love and Corporeality in Dante." Virtual International Symposium: "Dante Politico at the Crossroad of Arts and Sciences." University of Rochester. April 17, 2021.
  • "Hell on Earth." Virtual Panel: "Dante in the Hell of Modernity." Fordham University. April 7, 2021.
  • "In Good Faith: Translations and Iconographies of Dante from Longfellow and Doré and Birk and Sanders.” Devers Program in Dante Studies and the Center for Italian Studies at the University of Notre Dame. February 19, 2021. Virtual Symposium: "Dante in America."
  • “'Costor non saranno dalla morte vinti': Boccaccio's Strategy of Invincibility in the Decameron.” Symposium: “Danza Macabra: Ancient Pestilences and Contemporary Pandemics.” Center for Italian Studies, Stony Brook University. October 28, 2020.

 

In the Media

Chris Kleinhenz and I spoke with Matthew Treherne about the diverse disciplinary and pedagogical approaches to teaching Dante which emerge in MLA Approaches to Teaching Dante's Divine Comedy volume. We also discuss what it means to teach Dante in 2020, especially in light of the new educational and social contexts in which students are encountering Dante. You can listen to that podcast from the Leeds Center for Dante Studies at the University of Leeds here.