Dante’s Inferno: Influence, Adaptation, and Appropriation

NEH Seminar – June 22 to July 10, 2015 – Charlottesville, VA

This NEH seminar offers high school teachers the opportunity to study Dante’s poem closely and to consider its cultural legacy. The seminar will do so through a close reading of the poem, followed by a consideration of literary and artistic works that draw inspiration from it, adapt it, or appropriate it. Our investigations of adaptation and appropriation will be carried out in two directions: we will analyze re-workings of the poem not only to understand how they differ from the original but also how these changes prompt us to think about innovation and creative reinvention in new ways.

Attending scholars will be able to engage Dante and his Inferno in new and exciting ways. Teachers will have the ability to engage Matthew Pearl, author of the Dante Club (one of the required readings for the course) on one afternoon, while traveling to Washington, D.C. to see how contemporary African artists have engaged the text in new and exciting ways. This traveling exhibition, which will have its debut at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, will allow participating NEH scholars to consider the ways in which the Inferno have transcended Dante’s Italian heritage and literary depictions. See www.scadmoa.org and www.huffingtonpost.com for more information on the exhibition.

The first week will introduce participants to the Inferno and its cultural legacy and explore Dante’s characters, treatment of religion and politics, and the idea of contrapasso as well as look at adaptations by Keats, Tennyson and David Fincher. During the second week we’ll look at literary adaptations by Milton, T.S. Eliot, Ezra, Pound, Matthew Pearl, Sandow Birk/Marcus Sanders, and Dan Brown. In the third week we’ll look at Dante and the visual arts, how artists from the Renaissance to the present have interpreted Dante. We will also look at films inspired by Dante.

The Comedy Illuminating Florence. By Domenico di Michelino

The Comedy Illuminating Florence by Domenico di Michelino

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