“Periodicals: The most frigid and judgmental part of the library. If you even think of talking or breathing above a whisper, you will be violently shushed (and maybe shanked).” –Caroline Brown, North by Northwestern, February 22, 2016
“The [Leeds] Centre for Dante Studies runs a podcast, which can be subscribed to freely from anywhere in the world. The podcast is designed both to enrich undergraduates’ study of Dante, and to be of interest to a broader audience.
“The Leeds Dante podcast offers regular short items on three major areas:
- Key Moments in the Commedia: a series of brief commentaries on short passages selected from the Commedia;
- Interviews with scholars about their recent work on Dante;
- Reviews of recent publications of interest in Dante studies.
“Individual talks and lectures held in Leeds are also made available for download.
Episodes can also be downloaded directly from the homepage here.
Dante Today readers will be especially interested in the “Conversations on Dante” series, which features discussions with scholars doing original research on Dante’s reception beyond the Middle Ages, and especially in contemporary culture. Kudos to our colleague Matthew Treherne (Univ. of Leeds) for his wonderful interviews and insightful discussions!
“I would like to submit one last example of a writer of color who turns to Dante in a moment of personal crisis. Consider the case of Edward Smythe Jones, who ‘in his over-mastering desire to drink at the Harvard fountain of learning tramped out of the Southland up to Cambridge. Arriving travel-worn, friendless, moneyless, hungry, he was preparing to bivouac on the Harvard campus his first night in the University city, when, being misunderstood, and not believed, he was apprehended as a vagabond and thrown into jail. A poem, however, the poem which tells this story, delivered him. The judge was convinced by it… and set him free to return to the academic shades’ (Kerlin 163-64). The poem called ‘Harvard Square’ ends on this note: ‘Cell No. 40, East Cambridge Jail, Cambridge, Massachusetts, July 26, 1910.’ But the familiar scenario of a black man harassed by the police and thrown in jail for no discernible reason is transformed into a magical encounter with the muse. The divine goddess of inspiration comes to the poet’s aid with a brief lesson in literary history in which she compares his fate to Dante’s — ‘I placed great Dante in exile’ — suggesting that she has now done the same to Jones. Dante’s actual banishment from Florence sheds light on the figurative exile of Jones: the Negro in the white man’s world; the southerner in the North; the backwoodsman in the ‘University city’; the autodidact amidst the hypereducated; and the would-be Dante at the very center of Dante’s American home.” — Dennis Looney, Freedom Readers: The African-American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 201-202
“Weep not, my son, thy way is hard,
Thy weary journey long—
But thus I choose my favorite bard
To sing my sweetest song.
I’ll strike the key-note of my art
And guide with tend’rest care,
And breathe a song into thy heart
To honor Harvard Square.
“I called old Homer long ago,
And made him beg his bread
Through seven cities, ye all know,
His body fought for, dead.
Spurn not oppression’s blighting sting,
Nor scorn thy lowly fare;
By them I’ll teach thy soul to sing
The songs of Harvard Square.
“I placed great Dante in exile,
And Byron had his turns;
Then Keats and Shelley smote the while,
And my immortal Burns!
But thee I’ll build a sacred shrine,
A store of all my ware;
By them I’ll teach thy soul to sing
A place in Harvard Square.” — Edward Smyth Jones, “Harvard Square” (1910)
In recognition of the first annual Dantedì (March 25, 2020), the director of NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Stefano Albertini, interviewed Alison Cornish, Chair of the Department of Italian Studies at NYU and Acting President of the Dante Society of America. They conducted the interview virtually, during shelter-at-home orders resulting from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
Reflecting on her experience teaching Purgatorio during the pandemic, Cornish comments that Purgatorio is “about community after traumatic separation” (7:34), a community that is recreated through shared cultural rites like liturgy and song, forms of virtual embrace, and collective suffering.
The interview is available to view on YouTube (last accessed April 10, 2020). The comments on Purgatorio can be heard at 6:00-15:34.
“The Center for Italian Studies and the Italian Studies Section of the Department of Romance Languages are happy to announce a three-day residency (2/27 – 3/1) of distinguished actress and author Ermanna Montanari with dramaturg and director Marco Martinelli, founders of the experimental theatre company Teatro delle Albe in Ravenna! They will participate in classes and hold meetings with students and faculty.
“On Thu., 2/28, at 5:30, at the Annenberg Center Live (Montgomery Theatre), Montanari and Martinelli will present the show Staging Dante Today including ‘Cantiere Dante,’ sharing with the audience the experience of Inferno performed in 2017 in Ravenna with the participatory support of its citizens, first part of the project “Divine Comedy 2017-2021,” also featured at Matera 2019 (European Capital of Culture). This will be followed by ‘Il cielo sopra Kibera,’ a photographic report from a piece directed by Martinelli recently performed by 140 children and teenagers in one of Africa’s largest slums in Nairobi. In addition, Ermanna Montanari will read canto XXXIII from Dante’s Inferno as well as the poem ‘Ahi serva Italia,’ drawn from the Albe’s latest show fedeli d’Amore, for which she recently won the prestigious Award for Best Actress/Performer ‘Premio Ubu 2018’ of the Associazione Franco Quadri!” [. . .] –Penn Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, 2019.
See more about Teatro della Albe’s show here.