Forni, P(ier) M(assimo) 1951-
FORNI, P(ier) M(assimo) 1951-
PERSONAL: Born October 16, 1951, in Bologna, Italy. Education: Attended Universita degli Studi, Venice, 1970-71; Universita degli Studi, Pavia, laurea in Lettere e Filosofia (cum laude), 1974; graduate study at Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 1974-77; University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D., 1981.
CAREER: Educator, editor, and author. Istituto Gonzaga, Milan, Italy, instructor, 1976-78; University of California, Los Angeles, research assistant at Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1980-81, lecturer in Italian, 1981-82; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, assistant professor of Italian, 1983-85; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, assistant professor, 1985-90, associate professor, 1990-95, professor of Italian literature, 1995, cofounder and codirector, Johns Hopkins Civility Project, 1997, and codirector of symposium "Reassessing Civility: Forms and Values at the End of the Century," 1998. Visiting professor at University of Virginia, 1985, University of California, Davis, 1992, University of Pennsylvania, 1993, and Universita degli Studi, Venice, 1994. Gives readings from his works.
MEMBER: Associazione Internazionale per gli Studi di Lingua e Letteratura Italiana, American Association of Teachers of Italian, American Association for Italian Studies, American Boccaccio Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Almo Collegio Borromeo competition winner, 1971, alumni fellow, 1981; Lerici prize, 1986, for Il Legame musaico; grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1987; Smarties Book Prize, 1990, and Selezione Bancarellino prize, 1992, both for La Collina degli agrifogli; fellow at Villa i Tatti, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, 1993-94; Kenan grant, 1994; Lila Wallace/Readers Digest grant, 1994; Adventures in Speech named Choice Outstanding Book of 1996; School of Continuing Studies and Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award, 1998; Certificate of Appreciation, Cecil County, MD, Health Department, 1998.
(Editor with Giorgio Cavallini) Fredi Chiappelli, Il Legame musaico: Saggi di letteratura italiana, Storia e Letteratura (Rome, Italy), 1984.
(Editor) Giovanni Boccaccio, Ninfale Fiesolano, Mursia (Milan, Italy), 1991.
(Translator from the English) P. Fisk, La Collina degli agrifogli (translation of Midnight Blue), Dragno (Milan, Italy), 1991.
Forme complesse nel Decameron, Olschki (Florence, Italy), 1992.
(Coeditor) Forma e parola: Studi in memoria di Fredi Chiappelli, Bulzoni (Rome, Italy), 1992.
(Editor) I fioretti di San Francesco, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1993.
(Editor, with Renzo Bragantini) Lessico critico Decameroniano, Bollati Boringhieri (Turin, Italy), 1993.
Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's "Decameron," University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1996.
Hotel pace dei monti (poems), Greco & Greco (Milan, Italy), 1996.
Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor of articles, poems, and reviews to periodicals in Italian and English, including Italian Quarterly and Thought. Member of editorial board, Carte Italiane, 1980-81, MLN (Modern Language Notes), 1985—, and Romance Quarterly, 1993—.
SIDELIGHTS: P. M. Forni has written extensively about fourteenth-century writer Giovanni Boccaccio. Forni once told CA: "In the field of literary criticism, I have pursued my interests in the workings of the creative process, focusing on Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375). In particular, I have studied the ways in which authors belonging to different centuries of Italian literature have utilized their sources. Among the modern poets and novelists on whose work I have published are Giovanni Pascoli, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Giacomo Noventa, and Luciano Erba."
In Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's "Decameron," Forni examines how Boccaccio adapted some earlier traditional stories in his book and how he created original stories from familiar Italian word play. In one story, for example, the mother superior of a convent is awoken suddenly in the middle of the night. She accidently puts her lover's trousers on her head, mistaking them in the darkness for her headdress, and thus reveals her indiscretion to all the other nuns. The plot of the story is derived from an old Italian proverb, "to go around with one's trousers on one's head," meaning to always get things wrong. Victoria Kirkham, reviewing the title for Renaissance Quarterly, found that "Forni's project yokes classical rhetoric and contemporary literary theory—esthetic domains in which he is equally at ease—to argue notions that are as profound in their insightfulness as they are elegant in their simplicity."
In 1997 Forni cofounded Johns Hopkins University's Civility Project, a means of acquainting university students with the rules of polite behavior in a society where such niceties have long been disregarded. In addition to teaching students, the project also reached out to Baltimore high school students and to inmates in the Maryland penal system. As Forni explained to Stephen Goode in Insight on the News: "I would say that civility is a transcending of the self. When you're being polite and you're exercising good manners, you are transcending yourself. You go beyond yourself, and you show an active concern for the well-being of others. That's civility by any standards!" In 1998 Forni codirected "Reassessing Civility: Forms and Values at the End of the Century," an international symposium.
As an outgrowth of the Civility Project, Forni penned Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct, a book designed to "help readers rediscover time-honored practices that are often overlooked in our fast-paced and stressful lives," as a writer for the [email protected] Web site noted. Commenting on his interest in the subject of social niceties, Forni explained: "In recent years I have approached the notions of civility, manners, and politeness. In my current work, I study those notions from historical, anthropological, psychological, and sociological points of view."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Insight on the News, December 29, 1997, Stephen Goode, "Johns Hopkins' Professor Forni Explores the Rules of Respect," p. 31.
Renaissance Quarterly, summer, 1998, Victoria Kirkham, review of Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's "Decameron," p. 613.
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Johns Hopkins University, http://webapps.jhu.edu/romancelanguages/ (November 6, 2003), "P. M. Forni."
Dr. Forni's Civility Web site, http://www.jhu.edu/civility/ (November 6, 2003).