To Hell and Back: Dante's Divine Comedy and Our World Today: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Kristin Stasiowski

To Hell and Back: Dante's Divine Comedy and Our World Today: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Kristin Stasiowski


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Discover why Dante's Divine Comedy has inspired writers and readers for nearly 700 years in this engaging, interdisciplinary discussion of some select canti (sections of poems) from the Inferno. We will delve deep into the fantastical world of Dante's imagined afterlife and discuss his writing not only in its medieval context but also with an eye to its enduring relevance to modern-day readers.

This course is an introduction to Dante and the history of Florence through critical reading and discussion of the Divine Comedy. Close readings of select canti will explore the literary, political, theological, and philosophical concerns of the poem to understand Dante's work within the intellectual and social context of the Middle Ages.

Some of the central topics of the course will include Dante’s relationship to Florence, his relationship to the people he encounters, and the unique aspects of his vision of the afterlife, including a variety of thematic concerns such as Dante’s understanding of poetry, grace, love, and divine justice. We will also discuss how the Divine Comedy offers an enduring message for today.

Lecture 1: Into the Abyss: Prologue to the Inferno.

This lecture will cover the first few canti of the Inferno and offers an introduction to the major themes and issues of the Divine Comedy.

Lecture 2: Love, Lust, and Country Music Lyrics: Canto V of the Inferno

This lecture will offer an in-depth interdisciplinary investigation of Canto V of the Inferno and Dante's intertextual poetic brilliance.

Lecture 3: This Side of Paradise: Dante's Poets of Discord and the City of Dis

This lecture will discuss the various poets, teachers, and influencers that Dante features as sinners throughout the poem and will raise questions like: 'what is the role of the artist in society today?'

Kristin Stasiowski, Ph.D. is the Assistant Dean of International Programs and Education Abroad for the College of Arts and Sciences and is also an Assistant Professor of Italian Language and Literature in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Kent State University. She received her Ph.D from Yale University in Italian Language and Literature and has taught Italian language, literature, cinema, history, and culture in both the United States and Florence, Italy prior to arriving at Kent State. Her current research is on Italian author Clemente Rebora.

How does it work?

This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in medieval literature, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $105.00 for three lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture, please let us know in advance, and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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