Descending first to the frozen depths of Hell, then climbing upward to reach the summit of heavenly bliss, Dante’s Divine Comedy takes its readers on one of the most astonishing journeys that any author has ever imagined. Beauty and ugliness, virtue and vice, joy and sorrow—all are portrayed in this poem that simmers with rage (Dante wrote it while in permanent exile) even as it strives for redemption. In this seminar we shall follow Dante on his entire pilgrimage through the afterlife, unraveling intricacies, pondering age-old mysteries, and encountering the huge cast of characters, famous and obscure, that the poet’s art has made immortal. At every stage we shall discover extraordinary human feeling and a remarkably innovative account of religion, politics, morality, and the literary tradition. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive course credit for ITAL 280 and satisfy one half of the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.
William Stull is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of the Classics. In his sophomore year of college, he took a course on the Divine Comedy on a whim (and because he had heard good things about the professor teaching it). The experience turned out to be decisive, and cemented a desire to learn as much as possible about the ancient background to Dante’s medieval masterpiece. Although a specialist in Latin literature, Professor Stull is grateful for the opportunity to return to Dante regularly in FSEMs and the core curriculum.