“The Inferno” will be read in a large variety of highly creative English translations. Dante will be considered as a poet, a religious thinker, and an exiled public servant enraged at the bad governance of his native Florence. Students will be encouraged to debate Dante’s poetic inventions, lyrical, rhetorical, and metaphysical, as well as his principal social concerns – God’s judgment and forgiveness, moral complacency, violence, contrition, carnal weakness, suicidal depression, political corruption, and so forth. The emphasis will be on close readings of particularly important passages, with reference to the original Italian and to corresponding passages in later cantos of “The Divine Comedy.” Contradictory critical writings will be offered to prompt classroom discussion. Students who can read or speak Italian will be encouraged to read portions of Dante in the original, though that is not required.
Corequisite: Students are strongly encouraged to attend Literature evenings on Wednesday nights