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Dante’s Afterlife in Popular Culture

This course has a twofold goal: reading selected cantos from Dante’s Divine Comedy and exploring its rewritings and adaptations in popular and global cultures including literature, comics, cinema, rock/pop songs, television, and the visual arts. Emphasis will be given to appropriations and rewritings of Dante in a global perspective and by minority artists, including Toni Morrison, Lee Roy Jones (Amiri Baraka), Go Nagai, and Ai Weiwei. Artists have adapted and referenced the Divine Comedy as the quintessential text of the afterlife, spanning a broad time period and many cultural contexts. This course combines close readings of selected passages with their analyses vis-à-vis the many texts, songs, video games, traditional and graphic novels, and films which it has inspired. Students will reflect on investigative questions such as: How does the original text address issues that are still relevant today? How do adaptations and rewritings address issues current to our own world that were not addressed or were addressed differently in the original text? This course (ITAL-383) is taught by Francesco Ciabattoni as a Doyle Seminar (small upper-level classes that foster deepened student learning about diversity and difference through research and dialogue).



Francesco Ciabattoni headshot

Francesco Ciabattoni

Department of Italian