Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Module Outline

Week 1

Introduction to Dante's Vita Nova; its place within Dante's intellectual trajectory, from early poems of youth to theDivine Comedy; history of the text and of its reception. Comparing editions: early manuscripts; Boccaccio's handwritten copy; the Giuntina; nineteenth-century editions and translations; twentieth-century critical editions (Barbi, Gorni, Carrai).

Week 2
Genre: autobiography (nineteenth-century readings), theological treatise (Singleton), hagiography (Schiaffini), literary treatise (De Robertis), elegy (Carrai), self-construction of authorship (Barolini). Examples of self-construction of authorship by comparing previously circulated poems and their 'new' meaning once inserted within the book.

Week 3
The tradition of Courtly Love 1: Occitan troubadours, the Sicilian school, the rimatori siculo-toscani. By analyzing texts by Bertran de Ventadorn, Jaufre Rudel, Giacomo da Lentini, Guittone d'Arezzo, and Bonaggiunta Urbiciani, this lecture will reconstruct the main themes of courtly love and its historical and geographical trajectory from Provence to Sicily, and finally to Tuscany.

Week 4
The tradition of Courtly Love 2: the Stilnovo. Through the analysis of texts by Guido Guinizzelli, Guido Cavalcanti, and Dante (including selected passages from Inferno and Purgatorio), this lecture will explore the radical transformation undergone by courtly love in thirteenth-century Florence, and the ways Dante narrativizes this poetic revolution in his works.

Week 4
Incipit Vita Nova: this lecture will cover the structure of Dante's book and its literary and theological implications, stressing the different 'phases' in Dante's love for Beatrice as they can be detected in the text.

Week 5
The Body of Beatrice: in this lecture students will analyze the figure of Beatrice as portrayed in the Vita Nova and in the Comedy, paying specific attention to issues of desire, corporeality, and poetic fulfillment as delineated in the text.

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 7
Rivalries: This lecture will explore the complex relationship between Dante and Guido Cavalcanti, from Dante's poems of youth to the Inferno.

Week 8
Dante Painting an Angel: the episode of Dante painting an angel on the first anniversary of the death of Beatrice; Dante and the visual arts; nineteenth-century re-elaborations of this episode (Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Robert Browning); images and the process of falling in love according to medieval philosophy.

Week 9
The Donna Gentile: through the analysis of the episode of the 'Donna gentile', this lecture will cover the tension between lustful desire and disinterested love in the Vita Nova, as concretized into the dichotomy between this lady and Beatrice; the conflict between philosophy and theology in Dante and the Middle Ages.

Week10
Beatrice in the Comedy: through an analysis of selected cantos from Purgatorio and Paradiso, students will see the metamorphosis undergone by Beatrice in Dante's major work, and analyze examples of her literary and visual afterlife from the fifteenth to the twentieth century (including Botticelly, D.G. Rossetti, Dalì).

The exam paper code for this module is IT3P1Y