Dante's Commedia for Our Time: Is the Traditional Canon Still Relevant?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Dante’s Commedia, as well as his lesser known works, has managed to captivate audiences from various countries for over 700 years. Can the same be said today, particularly in a university context?
This paper argues that:
• far from being an outmoded social, political, religious and literary commentary, Dante’s discussion of such issues as migration, wealth and religion raises interesting points for analysis today;
• reflecting not just on the mistakes of the past, but on previous pedagogies and epistemologies can be a useful means to contextualise current thinking; and
• lastly, the representation of Dante’s Commedia across the centuries offers not just fresh insight into the poem itself but the similarities and differences in interpretations offered in various periods can provide insight into the times themselves. Just in the past 120 years, the first cantica of the Commedia was made into Italy’s first ever feature film in 1911, the Inferno turned into a videogame, complete with Dante-pilgrim as Templar Knight and, most recently, Dan Brown utilises Botticelli’s map of the Dantean underworld in his latest novel Inferno.
One of the conclusions to be drawn from this is that the teaching in universities of the Commedia and, perhaps more broadly other canonical Italian authors, involves their reconceptualisation and their reinterpretation for a modern audience. In this manner, it is hoped to highlight their continuing relevancy as well as placing them firmly within the context in which they were penned.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
EventACIS Biennial Conference: Re-imagining Italian Studies - Flinders University / University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 4 Dec 20136 Dec 2013


ConferenceACIS Biennial Conference
Abbreviated titleACIS 2013


  • Italian Migration
  • Migrant Hostels
  • Migrant Experiences
  • Migrant Reception


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