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In the spring of 1300, Dante Alighieri entered Hell. The Divine Comedy is the record of the journey that followed. It is organized around a series of encounters with figures from the poet’s past–for example, a former teacher damned for violating nature–as well as historical and literary characters: Ulysses, Thomas Aquinas, Plato, Virgil, Adam. Though the Comedy is probably now best known for its savagery–the bodies split open, the Popes turned upside down and lit on fire–it is also, as Dante claims, a love story and a work of high imaginative daring. Among its final images is a vision of paradise rendered through the precise if also mind-bending language of non-Euclidean geometry. In this course we will read the three books of the Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso), the Vita Nuova, and a few brief selections from Dante’s other works. All readings will be in translation. The course will be taught remotely.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
five written exercises and a 10-page final paper
a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL Literary Histories A