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The course is an introduction to Dante and his cultural milieu through a critical reading of the Divine Comedy and selected minor works (Vita nuova, Convivio, De vulgari eloquentia, Epistle to Cangrande). An analysis of Dante’s autobiography, the Vita nuova, establishes the poetic and political circumstances of the Comedy’s composition. Readings of Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise seek to situate Dante’s work within the intellectual and social context of the late Middle Ages, with special attention paid to political, philosophical and theological concerns. Topics in the Divine Comedy explored over the course of the semester include the relationship between ethics and aesthetics; love and knowledge; and exile and history.


This course was recorded in Fall 2008.

These Free Lectures are licensed under a Creative Commons License by Yale University

Course Curriculum

Session 1
Lecture 1: Introduction – Dante in Translation Details 00:19:00
Lecture 2: Vita Nuova Details 01:09:00
Lecture 3: Inferno I, II, III, IV Details 01:15:00
Lecture 4: Inferno V, VI, VII Details 01:11:00
Lecture 5: Inferno IX, X, XI Details 01:18:00
Session 2
Lecture 6: Inferno XII, XIII, XV, XVI Details 01:15:00
Lecture 7: Inferno XIX, XXI, XXV, XXVI Details 01:11:00
Lecture 8: Inferno XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII Details 01:08:00
Lecture 9: Inferno XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV Details 01:17:00
Lecture 10: Purgatory I, II Details 01:11:00
Session 3
Lecture 11: Purgatory V, VI, IX, X Details 01:17:00
Lecture 12: Purgatory X, XI, XII, XVI, XVII Details 01:12:00
Lecture 13: Purgatory XIX, XXI, XXII Details 01:19:00
Exam 1
Midterm Exam Details 01:30:00
Session 4
Lecture 14: Purgatory XXIV, XXV, XXVI Details 00:53:00
Lecture 15: Purgatory XXX, XXXI, XXXIII Details 01:09:00
Lecture 16: Paradise I, II Details 01:15:00
Lecture 17: Paradise IV, VI, X Details 01:16:00
Lecture 18: Paradise XI, XII Details 01:13:00
Session 5
Lecture 19: Paradise XV, XVI, XVII Details 01:11:00
Lecture 20: Paradise XVIII, XIX, XXI, XXI Details 01:16:00
Lecture 21: Paradise XXIV, XXV, XXVI Details 01:16:00
Lecture 22: Paradise XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX Details 01:14:00
Lecture 23: Paradise XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII Details 01:08:00
Lecture 24: General Review Details 01:14:00
Exam 2
Final Exam Details 03:00:00

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