To Hell and Back: Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Medieval World
Dante’s masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, is a true encyclopedia of medieval learning and culture. In this course we will read selections from it that bring into focus the history and culture of the Medieval Mediterranean world. Our readings and discussion will touch on many areas, from the historical and political context in which Dante worked and the poetic traditions that influenced him, to the influence of non-Christian civilizations on his thought and medieval views on women. In addition to close readings of selected poems, we will examine visual representations and interpretations of Dante’s work, from illuminated manuscripts to recent films. Students will hone their critical thinking skills while developing the tools necessary for perceptive literary and cultural analysis. All readings, discussion and written work will be in English. Students wishing to read the work in Italian may discuss this with the professor.