The National Humanities Center’s Virtual Book Club Series: The Decameron

As part of its response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the National Humanities Center encourages us all to recognize the ways the humanities can provide comfort, meaning, and a sense of connection in the midst of loss and upheaval. This extraordinary pop-up book club series spotlights leading humanists and authors discussing their work. In addition to learning about the featured book directly from the author, participants in these sessions will explore important and timeless questions about the human experience in all its complexities—from how we face personal tragedy to the ways we think about the afterlife, how we assign guilt or define greatness.

This engaging series is offered free of charge via Facebook Live.


Jane O. Newman (Center Trustee; Fellow, 2015–16), Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine

What can we learn from those who lived through pandemics in the distant past?

As constructed by Boccaccio, The Decameron is a classic collection of fourteenth-century stories, 100 tales shared by a group of young men and women sheltering in a secluded villa outside Florence to avoid the Great Bubonic Plague. Organized around timeless themes such as the power of fortune and human will, the pain of misbegotten love, the tricks we play on one another, and the importance of virtue, The Decameron’s tales form a mosaic that has influenced writers for centuries and created a lasting document about the vibrancy of life juxtaposed against the suffering caused by the Black Death.











When: Wed., April 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

As part of its response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the National Humanities Center encourages us all to recognize the ways the humanities can provide comfort, meaning, and a sense of connection in the midst of loss and upheaval. This extraordinary pop-up book club series spotlights leading humanists and authors discussing their work. In addition to learning about the featured book directly from the author, participants in these sessions will explore important and timeless questions about the human experience in all its complexities—from how we face personal tragedy to the ways we think about the afterlife, how we assign guilt or define greatness.

This engaging series is offered free of charge via Facebook Live.


Jane O. Newman (Center Trustee; Fellow, 2015–16), Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine

What can we learn from those who lived through pandemics in the distant past?

As constructed by Boccaccio, The Decameron is a classic collection of fourteenth-century stories, 100 tales shared by a group of young men and women sheltering in a secluded villa outside Florence to avoid the Great Bubonic Plague. Organized around timeless themes such as the power of fortune and human will, the pain of misbegotten love, the tricks we play on one another, and the importance of virtue, The Decameron’s tales form a mosaic that has influenced writers for centuries and created a lasting document about the vibrancy of life juxtaposed against the suffering caused by the Black Death.

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