Poetry as Theology: New Theoretical Approaches to Dante

Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, 1502. Newberry Wing ZP 535 .A354.

Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, 1502. Click image to enlarge.

William Franke, Vanderbilt University

Vittorio Montemaggi, University of Notre Dame

Research Methods Workshop for Early-Career Graduate Students
Friday, February 26, 2016

9 am to 5 pm

Room 101

Led by William Franke, Vanderbilt University, and Vittorio Montemaggi, University of Notre Dame
The application deadline has passed
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Renaissance Graduate Programs

One recent approach to research on Dante emphasizes the use of poetry as a vehicle of religious discourse and even of theological revelation. Dante has a paradigmatic value for this topic that has widely influenced study throughout numerous subfields of literature and religion, intensely engaging a considerable variety of medieval and Renaissance writers—mystics and humanists alike.

This workshop will bring together Dante scholars who have given decisive impulses to the new theologically—and at the same time theoretically—oriented readings of Dante, to suggest how the techniques developed in Dante studies might be applied to the study of other authors and even to Biblical literature. Key to this undertaking is understanding the theology of the divine Word not as a dogmatic system but as interpreting a dimension of literary communication, a dimension of the poetic word that in some ways can transcend pragmatic contexts of communication. Such interdisciplinary study moves the traditional disciplines of theology and philology into a new kind of dynamic interaction.

Learn more about the workshop directors:

William Franke, Vanderbilt University
Vittorio Montemaggi, University of Notre Dame

Download a PDF flyer for all this year’s methods workshops, to post and distribute.

Preliminary schedule, Friday, February 26

8:30: Coffee and introductions

9 – 11:15: Session 1

  • The Revelation of Imagination: Dante and the Theological Inspiration of Secular Literature, with William Franke
  • Truth, Language, Love: Reading Dante Theologically, with Vittorio Montemaggi

11:15 – 12: Obtain Newberry reader cards; library tour and orientation

12 – 1:30: Lunch break

1:30 – 3: Session 2: Discussion of selected texts

  • Inferno, 1-2, 30-4; Purgatorio, 1-2, 27-33; Paradiso 1-2, 30-33 (led by Montemaggi)
  • Dante, Convivio III; Ecclesiastes; Song of Songs; Paradise Lost II, 1034-55 (led by Franke)

3:15 – 4:15: Session with rare books

4:30 – 5: Concluding discussion

We encourage participants to stay an additional day to pursue personal research in the Newberry reading rooms on Saturday morning and to attend our Dante Lecture, which William Franke will deliver the afternoon of Saturday, February 27.

Optional session, Saturday, February 27

1:30 – 3:30: The Newberry Dante Lecture

“The Apotheosis of Self-Reflection: Dante and the Inauguration of the Modern Era”

William Franke, Vanderbilt University

Eligibility: This workshop is open to graduate students in a terminal master’s program and those who have not yet completed comprehensive exams in a PhD program, at Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies consortium member institutions. No language prerequisities.

Travel funding: Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.