Martin Eisner

Martin Eisner

Associate Professor of Romance Studies

External address: 05 Language Center, Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708
Internal address: Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708-0257
Phone: (919) 660-3129
Office Hours: Fall 2018: Wednesday 1:30-2:30. 
Spring 2019: On leave.

Martin Eisner is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at Duke University. He specializes in medieval Italian literature, particularly the works of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, as well as the history of the book and media.

He is the author of Boccaccio and the Invention of Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti, and the Authority of the Vernacular (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which examines a single manuscript, Vatican Library, Chigi L V 176, written entirely in Boccaccio’s hand, which compiles works of Dante, Petrarch, Cavalcanti and Boccaccio himself. This study reveals Boccaccio’s key role in the creation of the Italian literary tradition not only as author of the Decameron but also as a scholar and scribe. The research and writing of the book was supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the American Philosophical Association, and the Fulbright Foundation. 

His new book project, Dante's New Life of the Book continues to integrate philological materials into literary criticism, but takes a diachronic instead of synchronic approach by analyzing the material tradition of Dante's first book, Vita nuova, from its earliest manuscripts to the most recent editions and adaptations. Experimenting with a new mode of literary history that takes the literary work’s survival seriously, the book both recounts a fascinating history of reception and rereads Dante’s enigmatic first book through the lens of these later transformations, alterations, and appropriations. This project received the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome.

Eisner is also the editor-in-chief of a new online research project entitled Dante’s Library, sponsored by a Humanities Writ Large Grant, which aims to reconstruct the material texts of the literary, philosophical, and theology works that Dante would have known and read.

He has also published several articles on Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch that have appeared in PMLA, Renaissance Quarterly, Dante Studies, California Italian Studies, Annali d’Italianistica and Le Tre Corone.

Education:

  • Ph.D., Columbia University 2005
  • M.Phil., Columbia University 2002
  • B.A., Columbia University 1999

Eisner, Martin. “Boccaccio: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works. Victoria Kirkham, Michael Sherberg, and Janet Levarie Smarr, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. xix + 556 pp. $50..” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 68, no. 3, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2015, pp. 1108–10. Crossref, doi:10.1086/683948. Full Text

Eisner, M. G. “Rev. of Bonnie Mak, How the Page Matters..” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 66, 2013, pp. 706–07.

Eisner, M. G. “Rev. of Rhiannon Daniels, Boccaccio and the Book..” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 63, 2010, pp. 545–46.

Eisner, M. G. “Rev. of Carol Lansing, Power and Purity..” H Italy., 2010.

Eisner, Martin. “Rhiannon Daniels. Boccaccio and the Book: Production and Reading in Italy 1340–1520. Italian Perspectives 19. London: Legenda, 2009. xi + 229 pp. $89.50.. ISBN: 978–1–906540–49–4..” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 63, no. 2, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2010, pp. 545–46. Crossref, doi:10.1086/655234. Full Text Open Access Copy

Eisner, Martin G. “Review of Prue Shaw, ed. Dante: Monarchia on CD-ROM.” The Medieval Review, 2008.

Eisner, Martin. “The Tale of Ferondo’s Purgatory (III.8).” The Decameron: Third Day, edited by Pier Massimo Forni and Francesco Ciabattoni, 2014, pp. 153–73.

Eisner, Martin. “The Tale of Ferondo’s Purgatory (III.8).” The Decameron: Third Day, edited by Pier Massimo Forni and Francesco Ciabattoni, 2014, pp. 153–73.

Eisner, M. “Boccaccio’s Renaissance.” Boccaccio and the European Literary Tradition, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2014, pp. 45–55.

Eisner, M. “Boccaccio's Renaissance.” Boccaccio and the European Literary Tradition, edited by P. Boitani and E. Di Rocco, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2014, pp. 45–55.

Eisner, Martin G. Giovanni Boccaccio "Commedia" and "Dante Alighieri". Edited by Choon Leong Seow et al., Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008.

Eisner, Martin G. ““Giovanni Boccaccio” "Commedia" and "Dante Alighieri".” The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, edited by Choon Leong Seow et al., Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008.

Eisner, Martin. “Petrarch Reading Boccaccio: Revisiting the Genesis of the Triumphi.” Petrarch and the Textual Origins of Interpretation, edited by Teodolinda Barolini and H Wayne Storey, Brill, 2007.

Eisner, M. “Chapter Five : Petrarch Reading Boccaccio: Revisiting the Genesis of the Triumphi.” Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition, vol. 31, 2007, pp. 131–46.

Eisner, M. “Machiavelli in paradise: How reading dante and ovid shaped the prince.” Pmla, vol. 134, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 35–50. Scopus, doi:10.1632/pmla.2019.134.1.35. Full Text

Eisner, M. “In the labyrinth of the library: Petrarch's Cicero, Dante's Virgil, and the historiography of the Renaissance.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 67, no. 3, Jan. 2014, pp. 755–90. Scopus, doi:10.1086/678774. Full Text Open Access Copy

Eisner, M. G. “Boccaccio e l’invenzione della letteratura italiana.” Le Tre Corone, vol. 1, 2014, pp. 11–26. Open Access Copy

Eisner, M. G. “Eroticizing Theology in Day Three and the Poetics of the Decameron.” Annali D’Italianistica, vol. 31, 2013, pp. 207–24. Open Access Copy

Eisner, M., and M. Schachter. “Libido Sciendi: Apuleius, Boccaccio and the History of Sexuality.” Pmla, May 2009.

Eisner, Martin. Petrarch Reading Boccaccio: Revisiting the Genesis of the Triumphi. Edited by Teodolinda Barolini and H Wayne Storey, Brill, 2007.