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Dante in Translation

Lecture 1: Introduction

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Lecture Details :

Professor Mazzotta introduces students to the general scheme and scope of the Divine Comedy and to the life of its author. Various genres to which the poem belongs (romance, epic, vision) are indicated, and special attention is given to its place within the encyclopedic tradition. The poem is then situated historically through an overview of Dante's early poetic and political careers and the circumstances that led to his exile. Professor Mazzotta concludes by discussing the central role Dante's exile was to play in his poetic project.

Course Description :

(ITAL 310) The course is an introduction to Dante and his cultural milieu through a critical reading of The Divine Comedy and selected minor works (Vita nuova, Convivio, De vulgari eloquentia, Epistle to Cangrande). An analysis of Dante's autobiography, the Vita nuova, establishes the poetic and political circumstances of the Comedy's composition. Readings of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso seek to situate Dante's work within the intellectual and social context of the late Middle Ages, with special attention paid to political, philosophical and theological concerns. Topics in The Divine Comedy explored over the course of the semester include the relationship between ethics and aesthetics; love and knowledge; and exile and history.

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