Education Programs: Institutes for Higher Education Faculty

Period of Performance

10/1/2013 - 12/31/2014

Funding Totals

$162,947.00 (approved)
$156,511.99 (awarded)

Dante’s Divine Comedy: Poetry, Philosophy, and the City of Florence

FAIN: EH-50370-13

Regents of the University of California, Davis (Davis, CA 95618-6153)
Brenda Deen Schildgen (Project Director: March 2013 to May 2017)

A four-week institute for twenty-five college and university faculty to study Dante's Divine Comedy.

This four-week NEH Summer Institute Dante’s Divine Comedy, poetry, philosophy, and the city of Florence will lead non-specialist literature and general humanities college, community college, and university teachers through a close reading of the Comedy. The focus will be on how the city of Florence, as a vibrant archive, inspired the poet and shaped the poem. The most brilliant city in Europe during the Renaissance, Florence’s great cultural and economic expansion began during Dante’s time. While the Comedy represents the cultural flowering that was occurring, it is also full of concrete references to specific places in the city, to its citizens, and to its moral decline and political turbulence, of which Dante himself was a victim. Situating the study of the Comedy in Florence, offers an intimate yet intellectually expansive view of the poem and how Dante parlayed Florence’s emerging power into a massive critique of civic disorder, acquisitiveness, and corruption.

Media Coverage

Tanya Marcus "Woven" (Media Coverage)
Publication: Los Angeles Review of Books
Date: 2/20/2017
URL: http://

Associated Products

Dante's Book of Shadows: Ombra in the Divine Comedy (Article)
Title: Dante's Book of Shadows: Ombra in the Divine Comedy
Author: Andrew Hui
Abstract: Beginning with an analysis of Purgatorio 25 and Statius' explanation of the origin of life, this essay explores the significance of shadows to an interpretation of the entire Comedy.
Year: 2016
Primary URL: http://muse/
Access Model: Project Muse
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Dante Studies
Publisher: Dante Studies

Woven (Exhibition)
Title: Woven
Curator: Artist Tanya Marcuse
Abstract: This is photographic work that has so far produced two shows. Here is what the artist says, "The NEH continues to inform and inspire my work. In my new project Woven, I think about the intermingling of the themes and terrain of the three canticles. Seeing the large scale frescoes and mosaics that NEH summer definitely impacted my desire to work at a more immersive scale." Works from the series have been exhibited in Fruitless/Fallen/Woven at the Loeb Museum at Vassar, and I'll be having a solo show in the fall in NYC at Julie Saul Gallery. I mention Dante and Bosch in this interview too!
Year: 2016
Primary URL:

The Inferno (Book)
Title: The Inferno
Author: Cornelius H. Pearson III
Editor: Marilyn Button
Abstract: This is the result of a classroom assignment made by Marilyn Button, chair of the English department at The Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. Professor Button is a 19th century English scholar, but she is also charged with supervising the great books curriculum at Lincoln. The work is a product of the curricula innovations she initiated after the NEH Dante Institute in 2014. It is a 56 page booklet of full-color illustrations of passages in the Inferno that inspired the student's creative expression.
Year: 2016
Primary URL Description: NA
Access Model: NA
Publisher: Lincoln University publication/restricted so far
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: No

Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 17:3 (Article)
Title: Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 17:3
Author: Jennifer Holberg, editor (NEH participant)
Abstract: This is a cluster of essays written by participants in the NEH Institute (Dante 2014) that treat how to teach the poem across the three canticles. It includes the following articles: 1. Introduction: Why Teach Dante Vertically Brenda Schildgen 2. ‘Differing Voices Join to Form Sweet Music’: Dante Translations in the Classroom and Beyond Akash Kumar 3. “In My End is My Beginning”: Teaching Dante Retrospectively Peter S. Hawkins 4. Teaching Brunetto Latini with Cacciaguida: A Vertical Reading of Inferno and Paradiso 15 Monica Keane 5. Just Look Through the Eagle’s Eye: Teaching Justice and Vision in Cantos 19 of The Divine Comedy Jessica Wilson 6. “Birds of Paradise and Other Transitional Phenomena: A Vertical Reading of Cantos 23” So Park 7. Teaching the Antepenultimate Cantos of the Divine Comedy: The Dilemma of Not-Moving Margaret Hughes
Year: 2017
Access Model: open access
Format: Journal
Publisher: Duke University Press

"Walls of Inclusivity: Dante and World Literature" in Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature. Ken Seigneurie, ed. (Article)
Title: "Walls of Inclusivity: Dante and World Literature" in Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature. Ken Seigneurie, ed.
Author: Akash Kumar
Abstract: Title describes the essay--how Dante is a world author
Year: 2017
Format: Other
Publisher: Wiley-Black

"Out of Time: A Reflection on Dante and Eternity" in Eternity: A History Yitzhak Melamed, ed. (Article)
Title: "Out of Time: A Reflection on Dante and Eternity" in Eternity: A History Yitzhak Melamed, ed.
Author: Akash Kumar
Abstract: Deals with Dante's notion of eternity as opposed to other configurations and imaginings.
Year: 2016
Format: Other
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Dante's Commedia (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Dante's Commedia
Author: Akash Kumar
Abstract: This course examined the visual art that Dante experienced. It was inspired by the experience of first-time seeing these works in the Institute sessions. Akash Kumar writes, "On the curriculum front, my course this past quarter on the Commedia was very much inspired by the institute, especially in featuring the history of visual representation and aspects of material culture, from sites that we visited and manuscripts that we looked at together all the way to Birk's 21st-century illustrations. A curricular goal that started in part last quarter was having students doing collaborative digital annotations of canti...the eventual goal is to teach a course that results in a student-produced annotated digital edition of the poem."
Year: 2016
Audience: Undergraduate

Honors Special Topics: Epic Journeys (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Honors Special Topics: Epic Journeys
Author: David Miller
Abstract: Special topics courses in the English department give students and faculty the opportunity to explore texts and topics that are not included in the regular curriculum. This particular course—Epic Journeys—will focus on three epics from the western literature tradition: Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Dante’s Divine Comedy. The course will approach these works through the lens of genre by comparing and contrasting epic characteristics in each and through the lens of metaphor by comparing and contrasting the central metaphor of the journey in each.
Year: 2015
Audience: Undergraduate