Wednesdays, 11:50–1:15, Mar. 28–Apr. 18
Instructor: Kristina Olson
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, an epic poem that was written at the beginning of the 14th century in the Florentine vernacular, has been read and taught for over seven centuries. It tells the journey of Dante the pilgrim into an afterlife created by Dante the poet. Though based upon ancient and contemporary literature, his poem also imagined Hell, Purgatory and Paradise in original ways, describing visions of life after death. This course will give students an introduction to Dante’s greatest work, with a reading of selections from the second canticle of this three-part poem, the Purgatorio. Dante invented the topography of Purgatory as a structure of terraces that purged specific sins as souls ascended to heaven. This course is a continuation of the spring 2017 course on Dante’s Inferno, however, students need not have taken that course to enjoy this one. Ideally, participants should come to the first class having read Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio in their entirety, using the translations by Allen Mandelbaum (published by Bantam Books). A guide such as Guy Raffa’s The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader’s Guide to the Divine Comedy (University of Chicago Press, 2009) is also helpful.
Kristina Olson received her PhD in Italian from Columbia University. She is currently an associate professor of Italian at George Mason University and vice president of the Dante Society of America. She is a professional Dantist with several book and article publications in the field. Her first monograph, Courtesy Lost: Dante, Boccaccio and the Literature of History explores Dante’s literary and political influence on Boccaccio in the contexts of social, political, and economic transformations in the 14th century.