Who is Dante for us moderns? What is Dante’s impact on our culture? Is his vision still relevant today? On the occasion of the celebrations for the 750th anniversary of his birth, the Villanova Italian Program proudly presented a series of lectures dedicated to the great Florentine poet.
The conference series, which ran from October 2014 to March 2015, aimed at rediscovering Dante in light of our present, and, at the same time, at reading our world through his work.
The four talks touched upon such themes as the relationship between Dante and Saint Augustine (in honor of Villanova’s Augustinian tradition), Dante’s presence in Italian and American cinema (since Mélies’ Inferno of 1911, first using special effects), the relevance of Dante in shaping an idea of Europe (in light of the debate on its Christian roots), and the link between Columbus’ diaries (filled with Dantean imagery) and the New World Project.
Our distinguished speakers were Simone Marchesi (Princeton University), John Welle (University of Notre Dame), Giuseppe Mazzotta (Yale University), and Mary Watt (University of Florida).
The series inaugurated the Villanova Italian Symposium, which was conceived as a laboratory of open dialogue on broad issues related to Italian culture, and as a fruitful occasion to bridge Italian studies not only with other disciplines on campus, but also with other programs in the greater Philadelphia area.