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.

Salvador Dali’s Stairway to Heaven – Fort Wayne Museum of Art

“The Salvador Dalí‘s Stairway to Heaven exhibit is comprised of illustrations originally made for two very different literary works: a 1934 edition of Les Chants de Maldoror, a prose-poem by Comte de Lautréamont, and a 1960 edition of Dante Alighieri’s the Divine Comedy. When Dalí created the first portfolio in the 1930s, he embraced Surrealism with its wildly imaginative dreamscapes. The lascivious lifestyle he and his wife led at this time is also evident in his work of the ’30s. By the time he illustrated Dante’s the Divine Comedy in the 1960s, Dalí had renounced Surrealism and become a born again Catholic. His personal life had shifted dramatically to embrace what he termed a divine or ‘mystical ecstasy’ which is evident in this second, celebrated portfolio.”    —Fort Wayne Museum of Art, June 13, 2020

Marching Toward Victory

“GREENSBURG – The Decatur County Marching Band (DCMB), along with an army of parents and supporters, are marching toward victory today at the Indiana State Fair Band Day.

“The DCMB has 58 marching members and seven students in the color guard from Greensburg, North Decatur, and South Decatur high schools, all under the tutelage of Jacob Crossley, North Decatur band teacher.

“In its third year, the DCMB’s show this season is themed ‘Paradise Lost’ and is a combination of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno. The band’s music and formations help tell the story of a man’s journey through the nine rings of Hell.” […]    –Amanda Browning, Daily News, August 4, 2018

Indiana voters sort out “Dante’s Inferno” GOP Senate primary

Republican voters in Indiana will pick a nominee Tuesday to challenge one of the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senators, wrapping up a GOP primary so dominated by animosity and personal attacks that one top state party official described it as ‘Dante’s Inferno.’

“‘This race has slowly but surely descended into Dante’s Inferno,’ John Hammond III, who represents Indiana on the Republican National Committee, previously told The Associated Press.

“All three candidates have been the subject of unflattering news stories that have dredged up out-of-state living arrangements, questionable uses of tax dollars, drunken-driving convictions, voting histories and ethical transgressions.” […]    —WLWT5, May 8, 2018

Murder By Death, In Bocca al Lupo (2006)

murder-by-death-coverIn May 2006, Indiana-based indie-rock/rockabilly group Murder By Death released In Bocca al Lupo, a concept album influenced by Dante’s Comedy. Asked about the connection to Dante’s poem, band front man Adam Turla explained, “In Bocca is a collection of short stories and each song deals with the idea of sin in a different way.” Each track narrates the story of a different character, woven through a pastiche of musical styles and exploring various aspects of sin, death, and transgression.

Read Marisa Brown’s review of the album at AllMusic.com, and Adam Turla’s full interview with Bobby Gorman of ThePunkSite.com here.

“Dante Now!”: Notre Dame students perform the Divine Comedy

dante-now-notre-dame

Students in the Italian program at the University of Notre Dame stage public readings of the Divine Comedy across campus (fall 2012).

“Organizers said the event was meant to bring the ‘vibrant immediacy’ of The Divine Comedy to life for a modern audience. ‘Students of Dante will know that reading his works alone and silently can be a life-changing experience, the fruits of which will endure and ripen,’ said Anne Leone, postdoctoral research fellow in Italian studies. ‘But reading his works aloud—and together—promises to be another experience entirely.'”    —Notre Dame News

For video coverage of the event, click here.