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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ITAL3045 Introduction to Dante's Comedy (in Translation)

20 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Laura Lucia Rossi

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is mutually exclusive with

ITAL2023Introduction to Dante's Comedy
ITAL2024Introduction to Dante's Comedy

Module replaces

ITAL3360 and ITAL3035

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Dante Alighieri is one of the most important and innovative figures of the European Middle Ages. His Comedy tells the story of the journey to God of a character who is, at one and the same time, both Dante himself and Everyman. This module offers a general introduction to Dante studies for students of disciplines other than Italian, with an interest in reading Dante, taking the module as an elective or discovery module. It will place particular emphasis on understanding Dante’s world and his views on politics, religion, and poetry, as well as suggesting some of the reasons for his poem’s enduring importance in Italian – and European - literature. It will also provide a close reading of selected key passages from the text.


On completion of this module, students should be able to show an informed understanding of the importance of Dante as an author and of the key themes of his Comedy. They should be familiar with the historical, religious and cultural context in which Dante was working and with his relationship with this context. They should be able to show detailed knowledge of selected passages from the Comedy, with an ability to comment on their content and relevance to the poem as a whole.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students should:
- have an informed understanding of Dante and his Comedy;
- be able to discuss the broad themes of the text in writing and orally;
- be able to analyse a short section of the text in English;
- be able to demonstrate an awareness of the cultural, religious, historical and linguistic context of fourteenth-century Italy and the significance of Dante's text in this specific context;
- gather, evaluate and use information from secondary sources;
- communicate effectively orally and in writing;
- use IT effectively both as a means of communication and as an aid to learning;
- take responsibility for their own learning.

Skills outcomes
Students' linguistic awareness and sensitivity will be enhanced through discussion of what it means to read a text in translation.


Weekly lectures will introduce key themes in the text as a whole (weeks 1-5 of semester 1) before focusing in more detail on Inferno (weeks 6-11 of semester 1), Purgatorio (weeks 2-6 of semester 2) and Paradiso (weeks 7-11 of semester 2).
Indicative topics to be covered in weekly lectures and fortnightly seminars are listed below.
Seminars will feature student-led presentations as well as open discussions.
Semester 1
- Week 1
- Lecture: The Comedy in its literary and historical context
- Week 2
- Lecture: The theology of the Comedy: punishment and reward
- Seminar: Inferno I & II (Introduction to Hell)
- Week 3
- Lecture: Allegory in the Comedy
- Week 4
- Lecture: The Comedy and the classical past
- Seminar: Inferno IV (Limbo)
- Week 5
- Lecture: Politics in the Comedy
- Week 6
- Lecture: Dante-character and Dante-poet
- Seminar: Inferno V (Francesca)
- Week 7
- Week 8
- Lecture: The moral structure of Hell
- Seminar: Inferno XV (Brunetto Latini)
- Week 9
- Lecture: Virgil in Inferno
- Week 10
- Lecture: The appeal of sin: Hell's characters
- Seminar: Inferno XXVI (Ulysses)
- Week 11
- Lecture: Florence in Inferno
Semester 2
- Week 1
- Week 2
- Lecture: The 'birth of Purgatory' and Dante's Purgatorio
- Seminar: Purgatorio I (Introduction to Purgatory)
- Week 3
- Lecture: Pain with a purpose: the moral structure of Purgatory
- Week 4
- Lecture: 'Two suns': Politics in Purgatory
- Seminar: Purgatorio VI (Political invective)
- Week 5
- Lecture: Poets and poetry in Purgatory
- Week 6
- Lecture: The Earthly Paradise
- Seminar: Purgatorio XXX (Return of Beatrice)
- Week 7
- Lecture: Introduction to Paradiso
- Week 8
- Lecture: Ineffability and the 'difficulty' of Paradiso
- Seminar: Paradiso I-II (Introduction to Paradise and its difficulties)
- Week 9
- Lecture: The moral structure of Paradise
- Week 10
- Lecture: Questions of Justice
- Seminar: Paradiso XIX-XX
- Week 11
- Lecture: The vision of God

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours20.00
Private study hours150.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will be expected to spend approximately an hour/week engaging with online learning activities (via the Dante Discussion Forum) on the VLE (20 hours in total). The remaining study time, is broken down as follows:
Private study, reading of texts, preparation for classes: 100 hours
Preparation for exam: 15 hours
Preparation for and writing of essay : 25 hours
Preparation for class presentation: 10 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress will be monitored through feedback given on student presentations in seminars and on performance in the first exam, which students will have the opportunity to discuss with markers during Feedback Week in week 1 of semester 2. Progress will also be monitored informally through general class participation and work conducted online (e.g. via the online discussion forum on the VLE).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words50.00
Assignment1,000 word commentary25.00
Assignment1,000 word commentary25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:41:45


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