Akash Kumar, “A Dante Who Valorizes Difference” (2020)

“Teaching Dante’s Divine Comedy in 2020 is not without its challenges. In 2012, the UN-sanctioned human rights organization Gherush92 proclaimed that Dante’s poem was discriminatory, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and should not be taught in classrooms. For some years now, I have taken this objection as my point of departure in crafting my Dante course and promoted a reading of the poem that interrogates issues of social justice with respect to the representation of religious and cultural difference, gender and sexuality, and social class. In the wake of a summer of protest, I felt all the more impelled to bring such considerations to bear in my Dante class this Fall. [. . .]”   –Akash Kumar, “A Dante Who Valorizes Difference,” The Medieval Studies Institute Blog, Indiana University

Akash Kumar is Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian at Indiana University. Read his full essay on teaching Dante through the lens of social justice here.