Literature: Dante's Inferno Part 1 - with Dr. Robert-Louis Abrahamson

Ref: C3533446

Dante's Inferno, one of the most important poems of Western literature, takes the reader through various regions of Hell. Each of the damned souls Dante encounters illustrates the state of the soul when it locks itself into a variety of self-serving choices, destroying any kind of loving relationship. Each of the episodes presents a vivid drama, sometimes pitiful, sometimes gruesome, sometimes even comic. Dante draws upon a wide range of historical, mythical, political, philosophical and religious themes, at the same time giving us insights into the world of medieval Italy. The darkness of Hell is often relieved by beautiful images of the natural world above. Our readings in Dante's Inferno will stretch over two six-week sessions as we slowly make our way through the narrative poem. We will read three cantos a week and discuss our responses in the Zoom sessions. The course is supplemented by a series of podcasts that help the readers as they make their way through the poem.

Course aim

This course aims to share our reading of Dante's Inferno, attending to three cantos a week, with live discussions on Zoom and the chance for further discussion each week on Canvas. There is a series of podcasts to supplement the course.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need some familiarity with Zoom. It is not necessary to have any background knowlege of Dante and his times, since the editions of the poem you can choose from will have helpful explanatory notes.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • be acquainted with the various encounters and characters in the Inferno
  • understand Dante's pattern of organising and developing the cantos and their relationship with each other
  • feel familiar with applying Dante's poetic images to your own life and the life around you
  • understand something of the political and social world of medieval Italy
  • exercise your imagination to play with the various possibilities of metaphoric and symbolic writing

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

There is no one recommended text, but you should use a modern translation with notes. There are also many helpful sites on the Internet.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Literature: Dante's Inferno Part 1 - with Dr. Robert-Louis Abrahamson


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