Section Description: 
Next year marks the 700th anniversary of Dante's death, in 1321. Marking will take many creative and scholarly forms, and this class will help you make an early start: perhaps your final essay can be worked into a paper or publishable piece. Dante died as an exile from Florence in Ravenna, and his daughter (Sister Beatrice) became a nun there. The contemporary performance troupe Teatro delle Albe makes its home in Ravenna, staging amazing Dante dramatizations in its civic spaces: Teatro delle Albe will be coming to Penn in Fall 2020, and we will devote that week to their on-campus performing. Hopefully we might also welcome the Franco-Norwegian, English-language performance artist Caroline Bergvall to class, too. Creative responses to Dante in paint, illumination, performance, and written word sparked off all over Europe after his death and have never really stopped. The recent William Blake exhibition at Tate Britain showed him illustrating Dante as his very last creative project. Centuries earlier, Geoffrey Chaucer's encounter with Dante's text and Dante's disciples (he travelled to Italy twice) led first to artistic crisis and then to a revolutionizing of English poetics. Many poets and writers since have seen revolutionary potential (Irish Dante, black Dante), across Europe and beyond. Students in this class will sample a wide range of this creativity while formulating their own, unique research project. This can take the form of traditional, footnoted scholarship or be given a more creative spin. We will read substantial sections of the Commedia, using parallel Italian-English texts, but never more than five cantos per class. No prior knowledge of Italian needed. Following the pattern of adaptors over the centuries, we'll read more of Inferno than Paradiso, but not neglect Purgatorio or the Vita nuova. It's not crucial that we all employ the same edition, since the Commedia's text (thanks to its intricate verse form) is designedly stable (tamperproof). There are many excellent recent translations to choose from (plus some duds and eccentricities). For a first pass through the poem I recommend the translation of Allan Mandelbaum, that I'll likely use myself, because i) he stages a real poet's agon with the Italian; ii) his notes are helpful, but not overpowering; iii) very cheap (Bantam classics). Other translations into English of interest include: Robin Kirkpatrick (brilliant, ingenious, especially if you can handle the Italian: Penguin); Durling & Martinez (excellent translating, copious notes); C.S. Singleton (prose translation, phenomenal notes, 6 volumes); Dorothy L. Sayers (Penguin, 1949-62);Temple Classics (beautiful, portable, used by T.S. Eliot); Henry Francis Cary (1814, portable, praised by Coleridge and read on holiday by Keats). We will not essay an historical-chronological trawl, and the syllabus may be tailored to fit niche needs and interests. Adaptations and creative responses in many languages can be considered, including Italian: for Italians, the legacy of Dante (culturally, politically) has been both a blessing and a burden.
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M 0900AM-1200PM
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