Dante’s Divine Comedy: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise


A close reading of Dante’s whole poem (Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise) in its  philosophical (Plato, Aristotle), theological (Augustine, Aquinas), historical (Papacy vs. Empire, Florentine factionalism), and literary (Virgil, Ovid, Arthurian romance) contexts, as well as an exploration of its influence on later thinkers, artists, poets, and popular culture (Machiavelli, Botticelli, Borges, Beckett, Eliot, Rodin, Dalì, ‘Se7en’).

Each class requires the close reading of one to six canti of Dante’s poem, along with a complementary reading in a literary, theological, or historical source or analogue. These readings may provide contextual information about medieval culture and society or bring into focus a particular interpretive problem. These secondary readings consider the poem from a variety of perspectives: as an historical document produced at a specific space and time; an aesthetic object which uses particular narrative strategies to produce meaning; and an ethical and political treatise that both problematizes and prioritizes a certain set of values.

All readings and discussion will be in English. Italian majors, minors, and other Italophones can register for the Preceptorial for discussion of the work in Italian.

Instructor: Eisner, MW 11:45-1:00, Course Study Area: Language & Literature, Philosophy & Religion

Crosslisting Numbers: 

Italian 582
Literature 582

Curriculum Codes: 


Course Study Areas: 

Language and Literature, Philosophy and Religion