“A White Canon in a World of Color,” by Sierra Lomuto

“I was recently in my hometown of San Francisco, walking through the Mission district on Christmas Eve looking for a place to pop into and get some work done. I had some grading to finish for my Chaucer class. I worked for a bit in a café at Valencia and 24th St. But when it closed early at 4pm, because of the holiday, I made my way toward the local library a couple blocks away.

[. . .]

“Wrapped around the face of the building were etchings of names, six per column, and the first read: Homer, Virgil, Rabelais, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante. My eyes followed the carved words around to the side where they ended, each name digging a pit deeper into my stomach. Here I was, in the heart of the Mission, a Latinx neighborhood for as long as most San Franciscans’ memories can reach back to, and a building that is meant to represent knowledge, learning, community, safety. . . is encased with the names of white men. I wanted this old stone building, this old library in the Mission, to offer me some solace amidst a devastating present, to remind me that knowledge, education, and learning are paths out of socio-economic oppression.

“Instead, it reminded me that those paths too often lead us toward our own epistemological oppression—and do too little for the places and people we came from. The façade of the Mission library reminded me that those paths belong to white men; the rest of us merely walk them. [. . .]”   –Sierra Lomuto, “A White Canon in a World of Color,” Medievalists of Color (March 26, 2019)

Dante Micheaux wins 2019 Four Quartets Poetry Prize for Circus

“Congratulations to Dante Micheaux who has been awarded the prestigious Four Quartets Poetry Prize for his 2018 collection, Circus.

[. . .]

“Circus was selected as the winner by judges Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Carmen Giménez Smith, and Rosanna Warren, whose citation reads: ‘How right that this poet’s first name should be Dante. For his Circus is a Comedy: a savage comedy, lacerating dialects, fingering wounds, looking for loves right and wrong in the crevices of history and of humiliated bodes. And yet, and yet. His language exults, triumphs, and freely rummages in the treasuries of the Bible, Baudelaire, Whitman, Eliot, Baraka, and Mahalia Jackson, taking what it needs, making it his sovereign own, a wrested blessing. Congratulations, Dante Micheaux, on your astonishing Circus.'”   — Dan Sheehan, Lit Hub (May 1, 2019)

Mountain of Purgatory in Minecraft

In 2019, Juniors Jack Batton and Connor Smith of DeMatha High School (Hyattsville, MD) designed a playable Minecraft version of the Mountain of Purgatory as their final project for DeMatha theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on the Purgatorio. The mountain is organized by terrace, each labeled with corresponding cantos. The terraces depict figures of the penitents engaged in their purgations; pictured at left is the wall of fire on the terrace of Lust. The project was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University in Spring 2019, and a video walkthrough of the world is accessible on YouTube (last accessed April 24, 2020).

In early 2020, Jonas Long, Chris Allen, Thomas Mesafint, Gray Griffin, Seth Barnes (DeMatha HS) took the original concept developed by Batton and Smith and greatly expanded on it in terms of size, detail and complexity. They also have made their map publicly accessible for other teachers and students of Dante to explore and contribute to in the future. Screenshots (right; below) are of the server, and instructions to access the server can be found here (last accessed April 24, 2020).

We thank the designers and Homer Twigg for their permission to share the documents.

Cacciaguida (2019 short film)

Cacciaguida is a 2019 short film by Davide Del Mare and produced by Lateral Film.

“Lo chiamavano così Vincenzo Casillo, perché nella Divina Commedia Cacciaguida è la figura che più di ogni altra evoca la purezza dei costumi antichi, con quella sua fusione di aspettative universali che si proiettano verso l’avvenire.

“Già a dieci anni gli somigliava molto: ovunque posasse il suo sguardo era l’immenso. Pinuccio, Masino e Cannelunga, i suoi amici di sempre, vi ritrovavano lo stesso sguardo indomito.

[. . .]

Cacciaguida è uno spazio intimo, dove i valori più elementari eppure più indispensabili tornano ad essere legittimati: l’amicizia, il diritto alla scoperta, l’appartenenza, l’amore. Uno spazio dove non ci sono segreti, dove l’unica regola è l’autenticità.”  — Marilù Ardillo, “«Cacciaguida» e la cura del sogno: La vita di Vincenzo Casillo diventa un film,” Vita (March 11, 2019)

See more about the short film, including the trailer, on Facebook and YouTube.

John Wick: Chapter Three — Parabellum (2019 film)

John-Wick-Three-Parabellum-Library“Near the start of the film, John Wick: Chapter Three – Parabellum (2019), the eponymous hitman (played by Keanu Reeves) is at the New York Public Library when he is surprised by another assassin, Ernest (a cameo by Boban Marjanovic), who makes his introduction by reading a tercet from Ulysses’ speech in Inferno 26, and then mentioning Dante by name: ‘Consider your origins: / you were not made to live as brutes, / but to follow virtue and knowledge’ (Inf. 26. 118-120).”  –Contributor Devin Fernandez

The Philadelphia Enquirer describes the fight scene between Reeves’s character and basketball-star-and-acting-newcomer Marjanovic as follows: “In the scene, Boban’s character is the first of what will be a hundred or so assassins who try to kill Wick, so it’s a small role but with a prominent position in the film. Reeves is the star, of course, and the outcome of the scene is never in doubt. Even so, [director Chad] Stahelski finds some (wait for it) novel ways to administer the final blow. The phrase ‘eat your words’ comes to mind.

“’He a super-nice guy. Very humble, and I remember he paid a lot of attention to detail. He really practiced his lines, and he got a lot of coaching from Keanu. This is like his first movie gig, and he’s quoting Dante’s Inferno, so it was a lot to ask. I give him credit, because that was a long day, and he really held up well and contributed.’”  — Gary Thompson, “‘John Wick 3’ director talks about pairing Keanu Reeves with Sixers center Boban Marjanovic for a major fight scene,” Philadelphia Enquirer, May 10, 2019

Contributed by Carlos Devin Fernandez (University of Texas at Austin, PhD Candidate)

“Dante Rides Again” at Potsdam Museum

An interactive reading of Walter Noble’s translation of the Divine Comedy in Potsdam, New York, taking place on November 10, 2019.

“Bang’s Purgatorio

“Heading over waters getting better all the time
My mind’s little skiff now lifts its sails,
Letting go the oh-so-bitter sea behind it.

The next realm, the second I’ll sing,
Is here where the human spirit get purified
And made fir for the stairway to heaven.

Here’s where the kiss of life restores the reign
Of poetry—O true-blue Muses, I’m yours—
And where Calliope jumps up just long enough

To sing backup with the same bold notes
That knocked the poor magpie girls into knowing
Their audacity would never be pardoned.”    –Excerpt from Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio, The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

Illustration by Berke Yazicioglu.
See more about Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Purgatorio here.

CATS Review: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here” by Scott Wampler

In his review of Cats (2019), Scott Wampler titles his piece “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here” to signify the negative contents of his review. Wampler writes:

“The cats are introducing themselves, by the way, as a means for auditioning for death. We learn early on that one of them will soon be selected to die and ascend to The Heavyside Layer (which is basically the cats’ version of Heaven), and the entire movie is about finding out which of these gigantic assholes will win the Big Prize. Along the way there are pratfalls, screaming, terrible puns, bullying (again, these cats are giant dicks to each other) and a truly shocking number of crotch shots. Whatever circle of Hell this is, it’s an incredibly unpleasant place. At first it’s kind of funny – you honestly can’t believe what’s happening onscreen, that anyone would have spent roughly $100M bringing this abomination into the world – but soon enough its commitment to sensory overload becomes overwhelming. At a certain point, I felt like I was going insane.” [. . .]    –Scott Wampler, Birth. Movies. Death., December 20, 2019.

Contributed by Su Ertekin-Taner (The Bolles School, ’22)

Lucifer Season 4, Episode 2 – “Somebody’s Been Reading Dante’s Inferno” (2019)

In season four of the Netflix drama Lucifer, the second episode is titled “Somebody’s Been Reading Dante’s Inferno.” (Lucifer, Netflix, May 8, 2019)

Contributed by Audrey Cheng (The Bolles School, 22′)

You Season 2, Episode 1 – “A Fresh Start” (2019)

On the Netflix drama You, in the season two premiere “A Fresh Start” the main character Joe/Will says “..if LA is hell, the LA DMV is surely the ninth circle.” (You, Netflix, December 26, 2019)

Contributed by Faeryn Lee (The Bolles School, ’22)