"What does it mean to talk about 'Dante'?: The Dante-characters of the Vita nova and Commedia." - Katie Sparrow (Notre Dame)

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Location: Zoom

Gustave Dore Dante Al Ighieri Inferno Plate 1 I Found Myself Within A Forest Dark
Gustave Doré, Engraving of Dante's Inferno, Canto I, Opening lines (1857)

The Center for Italian studies is pleased to host a lecture on Dante's persona in the Vita nova and Commedia by Katie Sparrow, a Ph.D. candidate in Italian in the Department of Romance Languages.

Readers of Dante's Commedia, from the early commentators to the present day, have recognized the multidimensional nature of the poem's first-person voice. The division of the Commedia's "I" into two temporally distinct iterations, Dante-poeta and Dante-personaggio, is by now well established in scholarship and invaluable to understanding the narrative levels of the poem. This presentation, however, aims to suggest a more complex relationship between the pilgrim and the poet, levels of narration which are not always kept neatly separate by Dante. Despite their separation in time, the Dante-characters exhibit a certain level of influence upon one another as part of a convoluted relationship and an operation of self-characterizaton that extends beyond the verses of the Commedia to works such as the Vita nova, as this presentation will discuss.

Sparrow graduated with a BA in French and Italian from the University of Reading (UK) and went on to complete her MA at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include narratology, in particular autobiography, Dante's use of first-person narrative, and characterization.

The meeting will be held via Zoom and is accessible to members of the Notre Dame community by invitation only. If you would like to attend, please fill out this form or contact the Center for Italian Studies via email. Invitations will be sent to affiliates of the Center in advance of the meeting.


The Italian Research Seminar, a core event of the Center for Italian Studies, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian literature, language, and culture, as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame's Center for Italian Studies to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for scholarly exchange.

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Originally published at italianstudies.nd.edu.

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