Dante's Enduring Influence in Popular Culture with Dr. Kristin Stasiowski

Dante's Enduring Influence in Popular Culture with Dr. Kristin Stasiowski


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“You’re a rose, you’re Inferno’s Dante,” sings Ella Fitzgerald in the cover of “You’re the Top” from the 1956 studio album “Ella Fitzgerald Covers the Cole Porter Song Book.” Former US President John F. Kennedy famously stated: “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality,” about the Divine Comedy. And 20th-century American poet T.S. Eliot remarked “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.”

In over 700 years of the Divine Comedy, artists, poets, filmmakers, musicians, politicians, and more have sung the praises of Dante’s epic masterpiece and offered allusions; imitated passages, or devised elaborate—if obscure—meditations on, and in homage to, Italy’s greatest poet. What about Dante’s poem makes it such an important artistic and cultural point of reference for so many people all over the world?

In this seminar, we will explore and discuss Dante’s enduring influence on a wide range of modern and contemporary mediums and disciplines. Whether they be 20th-century poets like T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Butler Yeats, or contemporary novelists such as Dan Brown (The Inferno), Jodi Picoult (The Tenth Circle), Nick Toches’ (In the Hand of Dante), and Matthew Pearl (The Dante Club and The Dante Chamber), we will examine how Dante’s poetic moral imagination has inspired generations of writers. We will also take a look at how some filmmakers too have been influenced, like Martin’s Scorsese’s 1991 film “Cape Fear,” Ridley Scott’s 2001 film “Hannibal,” and the recent television hit “American Horror Story.”

Led by an expert in Italian literature and culture, Kristin Stasiowski, Ph.D., this interactive seminar will introduce participants to Dante and the Divine Comedy through an in-depth discussion of popular culture’s adoption and adaptation of this masterpiece of world literature. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the ways that Italian literature presents us with themes still relevant to us 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.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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