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Event Details

Tue, October 03, 2017

18:00 – 19:00

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italia

A lecture by Prof. Joseph Luzzi, Bard College.

From the time of its completion soon before Dante’s death in 1321, The Divine Comedy quickly became a staple of Florentine cultural life. Such was the renown of the text that in 1373 Florence commissioned no less that the acclaimed humanist author Giovanni Boccaccio to deliver a series of highly paid lectures on Dante in Santo Stefano in Badia. My talk will focus on Boccaccio’s lectures as a turning point in the history of Dante’s reception, both for what they reveal about the early circulation of the Commedia and
for how they relate to the views on Dante held by Boccaccio’s friend—and one of Dante’s most influential early detractors—Petrarch. My goal will be to show how the debates over Dante between Boccaccio and Petrarch establish a key framework for interpreting the afterlife of the Commedia and, more broadly, help us understand what we have come to see as the birth of the modern literary tradition.

Featured Biographies

Joseph Luzzi


Joseph Luzzi is Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College and currently a Wallace Fellow at Villa I Tatti, where he is writing a cultural history of Dante’s Divine Comedy that will appear with Princeton University Press. He is the author of Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy (Yale University Press, 2008), which received the MLA’s Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies; A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014), a finalist for the international prize The Bridge Book Award; My Two Italies (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love (HarperCollins, 2015), which has been or will be translated into Italian, German, and Korean. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, TLS, Bookforum, and American Scholar, and his media appearances include a profile in the Guardian and interviews with National Public Radio. Among his honors are a Dante Society of America essay prize, Yale College teaching prize, and fellowships from the National Humanities Center and Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center.