Professor of Italian
Associate Head of Italian Studies
Undergraduate Advisor for Minors in Italian Studies
Undergraduate Advisor for Honours in Romance Studies (July-Dec)

Office Hours:
Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-13:00
And by appointment

D.E.A. (University of Paris-Sorbonne, 1983)
Doctorate (University of Milan, 1987)

I teach and write in the areas of Italian and Romance Studies, with a focus on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. I have always been fascinated by the ways in which the act of transcribing (both with words and in images) ends up preserving the memory of complex cultural processes, involving various disciplines, different cultural traditions and multiple epistemological transitions. And this, even while denying or betraying that memory: so it is up to us to listen deeply, question everything and meet the Other on their, more than our, own terms.

This open-ended interest for processes and meanings that lie hidden in the deep layers of what we call culture has led me over the years in many different directions, and if at times I wonder what these paths may well have in common, at other times the deep-seated connections between them reveal themselves as obvious, yet always also mysterious and uncharted.

As a result, I always end up feeling more grateful for what I was offered to discover, than proud of what I might have accomplished. As the journey keeps unfolding, more vistas open and the “accomplishments” become necessary tasks, simple signposts. Yet the widening of the horizon always manifests as circular: over time and space, traveling farther is the only way of really coming home.

I am the co-editor of the journal Quaderni di Studi Indo-mediterranei and curator of its North-American website.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research interests gather around two major ways of approaching the world and our human partaking of it, which are in fact two manifestations of the same worldview:

Gnosis: that is to say, knowledge as experience rather than axioms, or disembodied theories. Over time, I have explored this approach to life, and shared it with my students and readers, especially in dialogue with:

  • Dante Alighieri and his visionary writings, most notably the Vita Nuova and the Commedia
  • C. G. Jung and his analytical psychology, from the Collected Works to the Red Book
  • Henry Corbin, his phenomenological hermeneutics and the imaginal world as the dimension of the sacred

Wildness: that is to say, the indomitable interconnectedness of all living things and therefore also the coming together of ecology, culture and spirituality. This has led me to recognize and retrace the deeply feminine aspects of a way of being in the world that our dominant culture has labeled and keeps labeling, alternatively, as “archaic”, “esoteric”, “heretic”, “unscientific” while at all times endeavouring to disparage or suppress it. I follow the rhizomatic manifestations of wildness in:

  • myth, symbol, story as means of initiation and individuation
  • the feminine and/as the Beloved: anima, the goddess, mind
  • Hermeticism and gnostic traditions from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Servet, Montaigne)
  • alchemy and falconry as arts of inner transmutation
  • the indigenous roots of Europe, in dialogue with the work of today’s Indigenous Peoples
  • ancestral/inner journeys and journeys to the beyond, the land of the Dead
  • Sacred Spaces and Mandalas, East and West
  • the persecution of spiritual dissent (from Gnostics to Cathars, Waldensians and antitrinitarians; poets, prophets and visionaries; the medieval legacies of shamanic traditions)

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

  • «Archetypal Dante, Visionary Jung»: through a series of papers presented at the Jung Society of Vancouver and in other academic venues, I have engaged in the exploration of the ways in which Dante and Jung partake of a worldview. Rather than solely investigate Dante’s influence on Jung (which is in itself both undeniable and significant) I explore their interconnectedness by focusing on a number of “archetypal motifs and events” in their respective works.
  • «Sacred Weavings, Inner Journeys»: this project is in its inception stage. Weaving as a primary act of life, as feminine archetype, as symbol, as myth, as universal and most human form of art-making.

PUBLICATIONS

Books, authored and edited (since 2000)

Il volo della mente. Falconeria e sofia nel mondo mediterraneo. Islam, Federico II, Dante. Ravenna: Longo, 2003.

Sogni e visioni nel mondo indo-mediterraneo. Dreams and Visions in the Indo-Mediterranean World, edited by D.B. «Quaderni di Studi Indomediterranei» 2 (2009) Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso, 2009.

Transmutatio: la via ermetica alla felicità / the hermetic way to happiness, edited by D.B. and Carlo Testa. «Quaderni di Studi Indomediterranei» 5 (2012) Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso, 2012.

Oikosophia: dall’intelligenza del cuore all’ecofilosofia / from the intelligence of the heart to ecophilosophy, edited by D.B. «Quaderni di Studi Indomediterranei» 10 (2017) Milano: Mimesis Edizioni, 2018.

Recent articles and book chapters (since 2013)

«Oikosophia: perché abbiamo bisogno di una casa in cui si torni a parlare il linguaggio dell’anima, e di un linguaggio dell’anima che ci riporti a casa.» Oikosophia: dall’intelligenza del cuore all’ecofilosofia / From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy. 11-28. (with self-translation in English)

«Earthly Paradise: Dante’s Initiatory Rite of Passage.» Oikosophia: dall’intelligenza del cuore all’ecofilosofia / From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy. 181-203.

«Beyond Narcissism: Mirroring, Mandalas and Feminine Self-Remembering», Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche 12/2 (2018): 1-26.

«Falconry as royal “delectatio”: understanding the art of taming and its philosophical foundations in 12th- and 13th-century Europe.» Raptor and Human: Falconry and Bird Symbolism Throughout the Millennia on a Global Scale, ed. K-H. Gersmann and O. Grimm. Kiel/Hambourg: Wachholtz, 2018. Vol 1/4. 367-87.

René Adolphe Schwaller de Lubicz, «La simbolica e il suo carattere ieratico.» Introduzione, traduzione e cura di D. Boccassini. Oikosophia: dall’intelligenza del cuore all’ecofilosofia / From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy,. 31-48.

G. R. S. Mead, «La gnosi della mente. Saggio di epistemologia ermetica.» Introduzione, traduzione e cura di D. Boccassini. Oikosophia: dall’intelligenza del cuore all’ecofilosofia / From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy. 49-75.

Henry Corbin, «Eranodofia. I. In Memoriam C. G. Jung e Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn; II. Postfazione a Risposta a Giobbe du C. G. Jung.» Introduzione, traduzione e cura di D. Boccassini. Oikosophia: dall’intelligenza del cuore all’ecofilosofia / From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy. 207-26.

«Il discorso di Capo Seathl e l’intelligenza della terra». Versione di William Arrowsmith, introduzione di D. Boccassini, traduzione e cura di Carlo Testa.  Oikosophia: dall’intelligenza del cuore all’ecofilosofia / From the Intelligence of the Heart to Ecophilosophy. 361-73.

«La voce del maestro interiore: i Valdesi medievali, Serveto, Castellion». In Tradurre lo spirito. Scritture eterodosse italiane nel Cinquecento francese ed europeo. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi 17-18 settembre 2014, Università degli Studi di Milano. Firenze: Olschki, 2016. pp. 25-48.

«“Non impedir lo suo fatale andare”. Volti e risvolti del viaggio nell’oltretomba, da Virgilio a Dante». Sindbad mediterraneo. Per una topografia della memoria, da Oriente a Occidente, ed.  Roberta Morosini. Lecce: Pensa Multimedia. 25-63.

Winter 2019

ITAL303 Italian Literature and Culture of the Medieval and Early Modern Period Sections

A thematic approach to Italian literary works from the origins to the end of the sixteenth century considered in a broad cultural context. Alternates with ITAL 304.

Winter 2019

ITAL403 Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy Sections

A close reading of Dante's masterpiece, along with excerpts from some of his other works: Vita Nuova, Convivio, Monarchia, Epistles. Precludes credit for ITST 413.

Winter 2019

ITST231 Introduction to Italian Culture I: From the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period Sections

The shift from the Medieval to the Early Modern worldview, explored through some of the major representatives of the verbal and visual arts, from Dante to Machiavelli, from Giotto to Leonardo.

Winter 2019

ITST413 Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy in Translation Sections

A close reading of Dante's masterpiece, along with excerpts from some of his other works: Vita Nuova, Convivio, Monarchia, Epistles. Precludes credit for ITAL 403.