Confession, Sexuality, and Desire in the Decameron

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


This essay discusses how in Boccaccio’s Decameron, the stories of I.1, III.3, VI.7, and VII.5 subvert the fundamentally religious and juridical activity – confession – to serve a wholly different and erotically-charged function. In these stories, Boccaccio unveils the mechanism of confession, establishes a new theology, creates new laws, and brings about a reversal of discourse, which is a possible solution to the discourse of sexuality in Foucault’s The History of Sexuality. In this way, narratives in the Decameron confessions, not only rebel again the repression of sex in middle ages, which is achieved by putting sex into silence or nonexistence, but also resist the will and consensus of knowingness – Scientia Sexualis – of modern times.





Zhang, Yamei (2019). Confession, Sexuality, and Desire in the Decameron. Capstone project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.