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The Cosmos of Dante's "Comedy"

RL&L 226
Fall 2021 not offered
Crosslisting: ITAL 226, COL 234, RELI 218, MDST 226, WLIT 250
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

In 1321, Dante Alighieri completes the final cantos of the "Comedy" and breathes his last. In 2021, after 700 years, the "Comedy" has not finished saying what it has to say. This course provides an in-depth introduction to Dante's masterwork as a point of entry to the history of Western literature, philosophy, and science. The core of the course consists of an intensive study of Dante's encyclopedic poem in relation to the culture and history of Medieval Europe. We examine the poem as both a product and an interpretation of the world it describes. We also observe how the "Comedy" casts its long shadow on modern culture: in Primo Levi's description of the horror of Nazi concentration camps, or in Amiri Baraka's fragmentary representation of America's infernal racist system. We investigate the challenges that Dante's text elicits when it migrates to visual and cinematic arts (from medieval illuminations to Robert Rauschenberg to David Fincher), continuously camouflaging and adapting to different media. Major topics of this course include: representations of the otherworld; the soul's relation to the divine; Dante's concepts of governance and universal peace; mythology and theology in Dante's Christian poetics; the role of the classics in the Middle Ages; intertextuality and imitation; genres and genders in medieval literature; notions of authorship and authority during the 13th and 14th centuries; the culture and materiality of manuscripts in the Middle Ages; and the reception of Dante's work from the 14th century to the present.

The course combines a close analysis of Dante's inventiveness and literary strategies with exercises in analytical writing and in multimedia translation and adaptation, aimed at prompting critical reflection on the ways in which present cultural practices are built upon the practices of the past. This course is conducted in English; no previous knowledge of Italian is required.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA RLAN
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode:
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(CSCT)(ITST)(MDST-MN)(MDST)(MDST-Art/Arch)(MDST-History)(MDST-Lang/Lit)(MDST-Phil/Reli)(RELI-MN)(RELI)(RMST)(STS)

Last Updated on JUN-12-2024
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