Dante’s Journey to God

REL950
Fall 2016
TTH 9:00am - 10:20am
Area: 
Area V
Professor: 
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

This year-long, two-semester course on the Divine Comedy will be a reading of the entire text in the light of what it purports to be - a journey toward the vision of God. Such an approach does not mean dissolving the narrative into allegory or ignoring literary considerations in favor of theology: it means taking full account of the poem as a path with a divine destination. Special interest will be paid to how Dante transforms his pagan sources, how deeply he assimilates the Bible and its interpretative traditions, and how boldly he attempts to establish his own text as a poema sacro (“sacred poem”).

Background Expected: 

No prerequisites for the course. More important than previous work in medieval theology or the Latin classics, which would provide excellent background for our reading, is a willingness to take on a monumental text in all its complexity and depth.

Course Requirements: 

Intensive reading of the poem in an annotated edition. Full class attendance, participation, and (given that this is a course that begins at 9 AM sharp) punctuality. Students are permitted two unexcused absenses a term. Further unexcused absences will result in a “participation” deduction from the final grade.

Written assignments: First term, a) 2-page single-spaced analysis of a passage, b) an 8-page study of an INFERNO episode, c) 8-page take-home essay exam at the end of term. Second term: 2 papers, both 8 pages, and a final exam.

Basis of Evaluation: 

Participation in class discussion, three written assignments.