Dan Christian, All My Life’s A Circle… A Harry Chapin and Dante Alighieri Anthology (2006)

“Taking ideas and putting them into action is a specialty of Baltimore, Maryland, English teacher Dan Christian. In his quarter century of teaching at The Gilman School, Christian has successfully merged his two passions, the music of Harry Chapin and the teaching of Dante’s poem the Divine Comedy. The result is a thought-provoking and insightful spiral-bound book of student essays called All My Life’s A Circle…A Harry Chapin & Dante Alighieri Anthology.

Until this year, Christian’s in-class efforts had been informal, with references to Harry being made as ideas arose while teaching. Recalling a concept that emerged from a 1990 seminar for teachers of Dante’s work, this year Christian formally put ‘celestial cross-pollination’–the intersection of art and literature–into place. Christian notes, ‘I asked my students to answer the question: Why and in what ways could a character in Dante’s poem have benefited from or been enriched by listening to this particular song?'”    –Linda McCarty, Circle!, Summer 2006

Dan Christian was the 2017 winner of the Durling Prize of the Dante Society of America, which recognizes exceptional accomplishments by North American secondary school teachers who offer courses or units on Dante’s life and works. Read more about Dan’s teaching philosophy on his website https://danteiseverywhere.com/.

Adam Zgol’s Purgatorio Score

Dante’s Purgatorio Through Music” showcases a piano composition by Adam Zgol (DeMatha High School ’21, Hyattsville, MD), created as an assignment for DeMatha ethics and theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on Purgatorio. The composition was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University (Washington, D.C.) in Spring 2020.

The whole composition is available to listen to on Soundcloud.

We thank Adam Zgol and Homer Twigg for their permission to share these files.

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.

Cheaters, HBO Films (2000)

Cheaters-HBOFilms-2000-Dante-Abandon-Hope[JOLIE] “Pride, that’s what it’s all about. Lucifer was too proud to play runner-up to someone he felt superior to, so he set up his own shop.”

[MR. PLECKI] “And what did Dante say was written on the gates of Lucifer’s shop?”

[JOLIE] “‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here.'”

[UNNAMED GIRL IN CLASS] “That’s what it should say on the door to this school.”

The HBO Films movie Cheaters (2000; dir. John Stockwell) is currently available to view on YouTube here (last accessed February 15, 2020). The quoted exchange happens 3:35-3:52.

Contributed by Sarah Scherkenbach (The Bolles School ’22)

The Tenth Circle: College Applications

“Not even one quarter through my life, I lost my way in a dark bedroom. The only illumination was the pale glow of the Common App website. This is a godless place. I switched from the Common App to Netflix and sulked.

“Distressed and lonely, I cried out, ‘SCREW COLLEGE! SOMEBODY HELP ME!’ and at that moment, a shade appeared in the doorway.

“’O hey dood,’ said the great poet Marsalis AdrianoHe still wore his backpack and his face sported a smarmy grin that was still somewhat inviting. Perhaps it was just the light from my monitor playing off his mochaccino skin, but I felt I could trust him.

“’Hey wanna go to hell dood? It’s right down there,’ he pointed towards the door, ‘might be cool to put on your college app.’

“As I had nothing better to do, I decided to oblige the great mystic in my bedroom, after all, Netflix only distracted me for so long.

“He led me out the door to a platform where, just beyond the edge, was a great black chasm. The jagged edges of the chasm were decorated with graduation caps with the tassels torn off and old forgotten football helmets of formerly glorious players. Marsalis looked to me and shrugged a quick shrug, pursed his lips, and raised his eyebrows skyward. He motioned me to the edge of the platform, where a seemingly endless flight of stairs led into the pit.” [. . .]    -Cole Murphy’s writing, posted by Elliot Quartz, The Current, January 21, 2015.

Continue reading Cole’s perilous journey applying to colleges at The Current, Malibu High School’s Student Newspaper.

You can read more posts by Elliot Quartz here.

Carolina Crown 2015 Show: Inferno

Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps is a World Class competitive junior drum and bugle corps.

“Never has Hell been so captivating and entertaining. ‘Inferno’ took us deep into the world of Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s nine circles of Hell, the circles seen starting near the feet of the corps’ uniform, wrapping up the leg, continuing on the hat, and ending in the feather that points upward to Heaven. Images printed on the color guard’s flags were copies of original Divine Comedy illustrations by French artist Gustave Doré. It was a helluva good time for all, sinful in its rapturous delight.”

The Carolina Crown Corps made it to 2nd place in the Drum Corps International 2015 Finals.

Watch the Corps’s preview show below:

Watch a snippet of the Corps’s final show below:

“La sedia di Dante” [Dante’s Chair]

 “La sedia di Dante”: A rap by high school students about Dante, poetry, life.  Directed by Ian Giovanni Soscara, Forlì, Italy, 2017.

Contributed by Francesco Ciabbatoni and Anna Cafaro

Union City Area High School Inferno models

Students of Hyle Daley’s 10th Grade literature class at Union City Area High School (Penn.) make 3D models of Dante’s Inferno every year.

UnionCityHSBeastsUnionCityHSFuriesTo watch a video showcasing the projects from 2012, click here.

Contributed by Hyle Daley

Ms. Sefton’s Nine Circles of Hell Project

ms-sefton-dante-project-2011At Seabury Hall, a “Coeducational College Preparatory Day School serving Grades 6-12”, located in Maui, Hawaii, some students are assigned a special project.

“Every year around this time, Ms. Sefton asks her Sophomore English students for a “creative representation” of Dante’s Inferno. She’s always thrilled with the results.”

Here are some examples from over the years:

 

 

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Circles of Disney Hell

Circles-of-Disney-Hell-2009

This slideshow by Kelly Scott for Richmond High School’s Honors English class breaks Disney characters down into different levels of hell. See the full slideshow here.