ITAL681 Ancient and Medieval Italy. Dante and Social Justice
Taking an interdisciplinary, but historically centered perspective, the course Ancient and Medieval Italy examines Dante’s Divine Comedy as meditative text to explore the most basic truths about human nature. Selections from the three canticles that form the Comedy -Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso –will be read in dialogue with contemporary political, ethical, and philosophical topics, such as free speech, democracy, personal and civic responsibilities, and social justice. Special attention will be given to Dante's poetic vision of sins and virtues as a collective consciousness, the weakness of human nature, and its endless possibility for redemption. For “We Hold These Truths,” I intend to apply “integrative contemplative pedagogy,” which focuses on a “critical first-person approach” to the study of the Divine Comedy in order to explore the fundamental relation between poetic texts and reality. How does literature contribute to the search for truth? How does Dante’s text relate to both Medieval and Contemporary truths? How can the Divine Comedy contribute to our understanding of equality and justice?