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Dante and Modernity

Oct 20, 2017 - Oct 21, 2017
Dante and Modernity organized by Andrea Moudarres

In a famous passage of Survival in Auschwitz, the memoir that emerged from his harrowing experience in the concentration camp, Primo Levi strives to recall from his memory Canto 26 of Dante’s Inferno – a canto that narrates the mad flight and tragic fall of the Greek hero Ulysses. Levi’s account of Ulysses’ speech to his companions in Inferno 26 turns into the prism through which the reader of Survival journeys across nearly three millennia of European history, from the obvious, albeit oblique, echoes of Homer’s Odyssey to the rise of a new epochal phenomenon that we have come to describe as Humanism and to the horror of the Nazi concentration camp. Dante’s Divine Comedy is the text that allows Levi to glimpse a sign of humanity in this horror, a modern hell that man created on earth. It is in light of the role that Dante plays in Survival that this conference aims to assess Dante’s place vis-à-vis modernity: his role as a modern author in vernacular; his prophetic impetus; his theological and political vision; his influence on later writers from Giovanni Boccaccio to John Milton and beyond, as well as on artists from Michelangelo to Dali.

This conference – much like Dante’s Comedy – transgresses disciplinary boundaries, bringing together scholars from English, Art History, Philosophy, Religion, History, Political Science, and Italian to explore Dante’s role in informing the modern imaginary; his vision as a prophet and modern author; literary and artistic works inspired by The Divine Comedy; the reception of Dante’s work in early modern Europe and beyond; the challenges of teaching Dante in a rapidly evolving academic environment; and the question of freedom – a key issue in the moral and theological economy of the Comedy and possibly the most crucial question that Dante’s poem poses to its modern readers.

Funding for this conference is provided by the Armand Hammer Endowment for the UCLA Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies.

Please click through to the CMRS website to complete the short registration form. No fee. Limited seating.

Friday, October 20, 2017 | UCLA Royce Hall Room 314
8:30 Registration, coffee
9:00 Opening remarks
Massimo Ciavolella (UCLA), Director, CMRS
Andrea Moudarres (UCLA), Conference organizer
9:15 Albert Ascoli (UC Berkeley), President of the Dante Society of America
“‘Quanto durerá l’uso moderno…’”
10:00 Break
Session I | Chair: Andrea Moudarres (UCLA)
10:15 Claire Honess (University of Leeds)
“‘Si presaga mens mea non fallitur’: Dante as political prophet and poet of community”
11:00 Break
11:15 Arielle Saiber (Bowdoin College)
“Fire-Breathing Rainbows and Interlocking Rings: Modern Mathematics and the Mystery of Dante’s Encounter with the Trinity”
12:00 Lunch
Session II | Chair: Catherine Illingworth (UCLA)
1:15 Diane Luby Lane (Director, Get Lit)
Title TBA
1:45 Giuseppe Mazzotta (Yale University)
““Dante’s Liberty and a Modern Story of Creation”
2:30 Break
2:45 Jason Aleksander (National University)
“Free Will as Hermeneutic Praxis in Paradiso 3-7″
3:30 Break
3:45 David Lummus (Stanford University)
“Was Boccaccio’s Dante Modern?”
4:30 Break
4:45 Robert Harrison (Stanford University)
“Dividing the Modern World between Them: Dante and Shakespeare”
Saturday, October 21, 2017 | UCLA Royce Hall 314
9:00 Coffee, fruit, pastries
Session III | Chair: Sarah Cantor (UCLA)
9:30 Bronwen Wilson (UCLA)
“Stone Matters: Sandro Botticelli’s Drawings for Dante’s Inferno and Early Modern Mining”
10:15 Break
10:30 Heather Webb (University of Cambridge)
“Consortual Vision in Botticelli’s Illustrations of Paradiso”
11:15 Break
11:30 Jacqueline Musacchio (Wellesley College)
“Dante for Sale”
12:15 Lunch
Session IV | Chair: Thomas Harrison (UCLA)
1:30 Martino Marazzi (Università degli Studi di Milano)
“Rise and fall of an ‘imperial’ Dante. The fascist project of the Danteum, from Rome to Ravensbrück”
2:15 Break
2:30 Deborah Parker (University of Virginia)
“JFK’s Dante”
3:15 Break
3:30 Efraín Kristal (UCLA)
“Melancholy at the Center of the Globe; or Peter Sloterdijk’s Interpretation of Dante’s Inferno
4:15 Break
4:30 Uri Rom (Tel Aviv University)
“Setting Dante – an Ever New Challenge” | Presentation + Performance


Oct 20, 2017
Oct 21, 2017
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