- Course Description
2015 marked the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth, and his Divine Comedy remains very much present in modern culture, whether it be a Dan Brown novel and its film adaptation in 2016, Don Draper reading Inferno on a beach in Mad Men, or a hack-and-slash video game by Electronic Arts. But it is by no means universally accepted: in 2012, a UN-sanctioned charity organization (Gherush92) proclaimed that Dante’s Divine Comedy is a homophobic, racist text and should not be taught in any classroom.
Our reading of the poem will focus on these issues, among other matters of social justice, and explore what it means to read a 700-year-old text in the present day. We will ask difficult questions of ourselves and of the poem, exploring its radical nature both in its own historical moment and in the continued controversies surrounding various aspects of the Dantean afterlife.