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Sunday, March 18, 2012


Dear all,
the focus on Law and Literature will continue next week with the analysis of Dante's "Divina Commedia". Prof. Justin Steinberg (University of Chicago, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures) will give us the opportunity to look at this masterpiece from a new point of view. In order to fully enjoy the lecture you should read BEFORE the class on March 21st the following parts of the INFERNO. You have to study entirely only the "canto" 21.

To sum up:
16 (124-136)
22 (1-30)
The title of the lecture is:
Dante's Commedia as a nudum pactum: Contract law and the crisis of literary genre


  1. Sorry, but I put this article last week in the wrong post, but I think that now it's really interesting to look at newspaper article published a few days ago titled:

    "Dante antisemita e islamofobo. La Divina Commedia va tolta dai programmi scolastici".

    Most disconcerting thing is that is a research consultant to the UN Organisation, wich carries out projects in development education, human rights, conflict resolution,who want to remove the most famous Dante's Alighieri work from school programs.
    Reading this article one can not be bitter about the words used to describe some of the most beautiful passages of Italian Literature.
    I'd like to know what you think about this request that I find unacceptable and offensive to the Italian tradition and culture.
    Here the link about the article:

    Best reguards
    Lucia Pizzari

  2. I don't think that is a question of respect of our culture. Dante could be critized by anyone. But it's simply absurd remove his masterpiece from school programs. There is no doubts about the great literal and cultural valour of Divina Commedia, and only for this fact the debate has no sense. Many important philosophers, for example, were racists. But it dosen't mean that their works have no literal or cultural valour. Only this kind of factors must be the standards for choosing what put or not in school programs

  3. I agree with Lorenzo, Divina Commedia is not only a masterpiece of our literature of all time, but Dante is an author that makes us famous in all the world. We cannot eliminate this work by our scholastic programs, because there are some “canti” that are part of our culture, like Paolo and Francesca or Ulysses ‘one. As we appreciate this work even if we are not catholic, we have to distinguish also for racism (if we can consider Dante a racist) the author and his undeniable skill from the man and his personal opinion.

  4. Dante is one of the towering figures of medieval italian and european literature;he is lost in the woods until Virgil comes to rescue him, unable to find the way to the underworld or even guess at how to escape from the forest...Today as yesterday, we must find a way out of the forest, and Dante seems to me very timely for students.We should not remove it from our school!

  5. Hello everybody, I'm an italian jewish guy so I'm particularly keen on this topic. I think that our History is full of this kind of situations, a lot of racism and antisemitism episodes are present over the years. I can consider Dante an antisemite or racist, like most people in that period were, because that was the way of thinking at the time, but this is not enough to expect that his masterpiece to be removed from our school programs beacuse in the Divina Commedia there is the tought and the knowledge of the XIV century. I think instead that our professor, during the study of Dante's work, could underline this by taking the distance from this way of thinking and so the problem would be solved.

    Andrea David Mieli

  6. Good morning!
    I think that the 'Divina Commedia' s world wide importance is not only due to the fact that it is a literary masterpiece but also because of it's historical value.
    The references to Dante's period have been crucial in the reconstruction of that historical moment, this is why I think we shouldn't consider Dante's attitude
    towards jews as racist but simply as an evidence of his times.

    Ludovica Bussoletti

  7. Today's lesson was really interesting, it's a pity that we had just one lesson with professor Steinberg! I appreciated so much his enthusiastic and passionate approach to Divina Commedia. I couldn't imagine that even in US universities they study and appreciate Dante's work; it attests the huge importance of this poem, it's unbelievable that someone claims to remove it from our school programs! Unfortunately none of us took this opportunity to ask him what he thought about this reprehensible request to eliminate it.
    This lesson made me redescover the incredible fashion of Divina Commedia and I think I will read it again!