Talk: Far from being a figure caught in the Middle Ages or a figure of Catholic orthodoxy, Dante has powerfully shaped all European culture--especially but not exclusively Italian culture--and continues to be our contemporary. This talk will focus on how Italian writers after Dante were influenced by him and struggled with how to find their own voice given the long shadow he casts. We will focus on three great Italian (and Florentine) writers: Petrarch, whose lyric poetry dominated European poetry for centuries, Boccaccio, whose stories are at the start of European prose fiction, and Michelangelo, the great sculptor and painter who was also--though this is less known--a great poet. Each writer is a powerful reader of Dante, so looking at how they respond to his work is extremely illuminating about his work as well as theirs.
Presenter: Reed Dasenbrock moved to Hawaii in 2009 to serve as the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UH Manoa. Returning to the faculty in 2016, he teaches courses on Italian literature in translation in addition to courses in English, Philosophy, and the Honors Program. This semester, he is teaching a course on Boccaccio's The Decameron and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Next spring, he will be teaching in Manoa's Study Abroad Program in Florence, where he will teach a course on Dante and a course on art and literature in Florence in the Renaissance, in which the students will read Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Castiglione, and Michelangelo as well as see a lot of art. A lifelong Italophile, he has visited Italy perhaps 25 times and is the author of Imitating the Italians, a scholarly study of the influence of Italian literature on literature in English from 1500 to the present, which was published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
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