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Dante’s 700-year-old masterpiece the Divine Comedy still attracts great attention. For centuries readers have been drawn to his vivid description of the afterlife. This course will explore the first portion of the Divine Comedy, Inferno, in its entirety. The class will focus on the organization of his hell, from lesser to greater sins, the numerous historical personages and references in it, and its implicit theology. We will also look at Dante’s narrative, discussing how the actions of his characters and their respective punishments depict the true nature of the sins.
The purpose of Dante’s voyage is not about merely observing the torments of the damned, but rather about gaining knowledge of the true nature of evil. While many contemporary readers might disagree with the categories of Dante’s sins, the question of evil is as relevant today as it was in the fourteenth century.
Alighieri, Dante. The Inferno. Trans. Jean and Robert Hollander. New York: Random House, 2002. ISBN: 978-0385496988.
FABIAN ALFIE received his PhD in Italian from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a specialization in the Middle Ages. He has published extensively on medieval Italian literature and has given numerous talks on Dante. He is currently on the Board of the Humanities Seminars Program, where he has gotten two Superior Teaching Awards, as well as a Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Humanities.