Mariko Muramatsu

Mariko Muramatsu

Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Visiting Professor
The Transformation of the Female Body in Italian Literature, from the 13th to the 16th Centuries. From the Theory of Love to the Age of Censorship


Mariko Muramatsu received a Ph.D from the University of Tokyo in 1994 and from the University of Bologna in 1997. Since 2002, she has been teaching Italian Language and Culture at the Department of Area Studies of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in the University of Tokyo. Her main publications are: Il suddito di Mikado. D’Annunzio japonisant (Milano, Archinto Editore, 1997); Segni e voci dalla letteratura italiana. Da Dante a D’Annunzio (Tokyo, UTCP, 2012). She translated into Japanese, Italian contemporary novels like Antonio Tabucchi’s La piazza d’Italia (Tokyo, Hakusuisha, 2009), Italo Calvino’s Il visconte dimezzato (Tokyo, Hakusuisha, 2020), and into Italian, Japanese poets like Miyazawa Kenji, Il violoncellista Gosh e altri scritti (Milano, La Vita Felice, 1996) e Matsuo Basho, Poesie. Haiku e scritti poetici (La Vita Felice, 1996).

Project Summary

In Italian medieval literature, love poetry was becoming more and more sophisticated as two phenomena were taking place together: on the one hand, the attributes of angels were theorized as the characteristics of “noblewomen” and transformed into works of art; on the other hand, angels were transformed into feminine representations. These trends seem to root into the theory of love and intelligence in medieval Italian expressions, and it is assumed that a similar cultural context can be traced in the art expressions of the same period. Adding the perspective of gender theory in the study of the image of women in love in medieval and Renaissance Italian literature, I have analyzed how Boccaccio’s Decameron image of women and its depiction of physicality and sexuality relate to, and differ from the angelic image of women. The objective of this research project is to deepen the above-mentioned themes. Specifically, 1) to study the images of women in representations of love poetry from the Sicilian School to the time of Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, and Poliziano in the 15th century, with the images of the Virgin and Child and angels in artistic representations from Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini to the Renaissance painters. 2) to trace and root the tendency of censorship in the edition of Decameron (1571) published by Borghini after the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, with regard to how the fourteenth-century texts of Boccaccio were modified or censored, in relation to women and their sexuality. 3) to prove whether the same tendency can be observed in the representation of women and nudity in paintings during that period of cultural and social transition.