Winter 2020 FRIT COURSES
FRIT 33:01: Dante's Divine Comedy @ 10A (Wyatt): The work of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) stages from beginning to end a struggle between personal desire, social obligation, and the conflicting cultures of Christian religion and the body politic. The unprecedented fusion Dante made of these elements in the Commedia [The Divine Comedy] has guaranteed his great poem a vast public, extending across world cultures and the seven centuries since it initially traveled among elite readers in north-central Italy in the early decades of the fourteenth century. This course will first examine the development of Dante's poetic voice in La vita nova [The New Life, ca. 1293-94] and then focus on its subsequent expansion into an all-encompassing vision of life and death in Inferno [Hell, ca. 1306-09], the first of the three canticles of the Commedia. Situating Dante in his own time and place will be essential to our analysis of his poetry, but attention to the multiple ways that Dante's work has been interpreted, translated, and appropriated in other periods, languages, and media will provide a critical framework for understanding its enduring appeal, why – in the words of Italo Calvino – it "has not finished saying what it has to say." Readings, lectures, discussion, and written work – to include a mid-term exam, two short essays, and a final digital project – will be in English. Students taking the course for major or minor credit will attend a weekly X-hour and write the two essays in Italian.