Kristina Marie Olson

Kristina Marie Olson

Kristina Marie Olson

Italian Program Coordinator

Associate Professor

Italian: Medieval and Early Modern Italy; Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch; Gender Studies; Translation and Adaptation Studies

My training is in medieval Italian literature, specifically the "tre corone" (the "three crowns") of Italian literature: Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. I employ new approaches to reading and teaching this literary canon, often with an eye to understanding medieval conceptions of gender, sexuality and ethnicity. Many of my essays explore the later reception of Dante in visual, cinematic and literary adaptations and translations.
 
My current book is titled Dressing Babylon: Sartorial Poetics in Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch (in progress and under advance contract with the University of Toronto Press). Medieval Italian authors looked eastward -- to a mythical Babylon, Tartary, and other distant lands -- as they contemplated ethical corruption in their own civic, political and religious worlds. Dressing Babylon tells the story of how dress performs gender and race in literature.
 
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. Regarded as a pioneering work, Courtesy Lost, offers a new model for reading the fictionalization of history by Italian medieval authors. 
 
Together with Christopher Kleinhenz (Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison), I edited Approaches to Teaching Dante's Divine Comedy, with the Modern Language Association's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series (2020). With Francesco Ciabattoni and Elsa Filosa, I edited Boccaccio 1313-2013 (Ravenna: Longo Editore, 2015). 
 
I am an Associate Editor for Digital Dante and serve on the Editorial Boards of Dante Studies and Bibliotheca Dantesca. I served as the President (2020-23), Vice President (2017-20), and Treasurer (2014-17) of the American Boccaccio Association. I served two terms as Vice President of the Dante Society of America (2016-18).
 
 

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.

Audiobook

  • Title: “Books That Matter: Boccaccio's Decameron,” Audible, 2021.

Edited Journal Forum

  • Editor, “Ideology and Pedagogy: The Tensions of Teaching Dante,” in Dante Studies: The Annual Publication of the Dante Society of America 137 (2019): 124-216.

Selected Articles

  • "Migrant Purgatories: Dante, Lô, Nabil, and Sedira," Le Tre Corone. Rivista internazionale di studi su Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio IX (2022): 77-92.
  • “’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, 2021, pp. 311-323.
  • “Dante in a Global World: Sandow Birk’s Divine Comedy.” In Unexpected Dante, ed. Lucia Wolf. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2021, pp. 47-59.
  • “The Tale of 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. "Migrant Purgatories: Dante, Lô, Nabil, and Sedira," Le Tre Corone. Rivista internazionale di studi su Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio IX (2022): 77-92.
  2. “’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, 2021, pp. 311-323.
  3. “Dante in a Global World: Sandow Birk’s Divine Comedy.” In Unexpected Dante, ed. Lucia Wolf. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2021, pp. 47-59.
  4. “Dante and Monetary Language,” Dante Studies: The Annual Publication of the Dante Society of America 138 (2020): 195-202.
  5. “The Tale of 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. “Empty Flags and Fallen ‘Angeli’: Dante and the Imagery of the Capitol Riot.” Bibliotecha Dantesca: Journal of Dante Studies 4 (2021). https://repository.upenn.edu/bibdant/vol4/iss1/11/
  2. “Hell on Earth: Parents, Children, and Pain at the Border.” In “Dante: Prophet of Hope.” The Berkley Forum, Georgetown University. October 21, 2021 (https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/responses/hell-on-earth-parents-children-and-pain-at-the-border)
  3. “Worse than Dante’s Hell: Parents, Children and Pain at the Border.” Dante Notes, September 28, 2018 (https://www.dantesociety.org/node/132).
  4. “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/)
  5. 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 Pier Massimo Forni, and Renzo Bragantini, eds. The Decameron: A Critical Lexicon. English edition by Christopher Kleinhenz. Translation by Michael Papio. (Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2019). Annali d’italianistica 39 (2021): 492-494.
  2. Review of Marilyn Migiel, The Ethical Dimension of the Decameron (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2015). Heliotropia, 16-19 (2019-20): 297-300.
  3. Review of Sherry Roush, Speaking Spirits: Ventriloquizing the Dead in Renaissance Italy (University of Toronto Press, 2015). Speculum 92:2 (April 2017): 580-81.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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:

  • FRLN 550: Boccaccio's Decameron
  • FRLN 330: Topics in World Literature
  • HNRS 122/230: The Language of Empire: Ancient Rome, Italy and Africa
  • ITAL 420: Global and Local Italy
  • ITAL 360: The Italian South
  • ITAL 340: Italian through the Arts (Film / Opera)
  • ITAL 330/331: Advanced Italian: Language and Culture I & II
  • ITAL 320: Italian Cinema / Neorealism and Global Cinema / Neorealism and Its Legacy
  • ITAL 325: Major Italian Writers ("Dante's Divine Comedy"; "Dante's Inferno"; "The Literature of the Black Death: Boccaccio's Decameron")
  • ITAL 201 & ITAL 202: Intermediate Italian II
  • ITAL 101 & ITAL 102: Elementary Italian I and II
  • ITAL 110: Elementary Italian

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 (Great Courses / Wondrium). 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

  • “Dressing Babylon: Sartorial Biographies in Dante and Boccaccio.” The Center for Medieval Studies, University of Bristol, UK. October 12, 2023. 
  • “The Ancient and Eastern Fabric of the Esposizioni: The Case of Semiramis.” Conference: “Das vernachlässigte Spätwek Giovanni Boccaccios: Le Esposizioni sopra la Commedia di Dante Alighieri.” University of Göttingen, Germany. October 18-20, 2023.
  • “Surviving an Endless Pandemic: Boccaccio's Strategy of Invincibility in the Decameron." The Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA. November 9, 2023. 
  • “’Transumanar significar per verba (non) si poria’: Sexuality and Species in Dante.” The Department of Italian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, CA. February 9, 2024. 
  • “Cowardice is Political: The Legacy of Inferno 3 in 20th- and 21st-Century America.” Medieval Studies Program’s 2023-2024 Speaker Series: “Then/Now: Modern Medievalisms.” University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI. April 19, 2024.

In the Media

Interviews

  • Olson, Kristina Marie and Sassi, Mario. “Teaching Dante's Divine Comedy in 21st-century America: A Conversation with Kristina Marie Olson.” Bibliotheca Dantesca: Journal of Dante Studies 3 (2020).
  • Treherne, Matthew. “Conversations on Dante 7: Chris Kleinhenz and Kristina Olson on Approaches to Teaching Dante's Divine Comedy.” Leeds Centre for Dante Studies. August 27, 2020.