“In terra per le vostre scole” (Par. XXIX, 70): Dante’s Paradiso and the Medieval Academic World

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787). This special issue belongs to the section "Philosophy and Classics in the Humanities".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2023) | Viewed by 8677

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Romance Philology, University of Göttingen, Humboldtallee 19, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Interests: Dante Studies; medieval studies; medieval Italian literature; material culture studies

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Romance Philology, University of Göttingen, Humboldtallee 19, 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Interests: Dante Studies; medieval studies; medieval Italian literature; material culture studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Please consider submitting an article to a Special Issue of the international, peer-reviewed, open access online journal Humanities, titled: "In terra per le vostre scole" (Par. XXIX, 70): Dante’s Paradiso and the Medieval Academic World. We welcome contributions in English that investigate Dante’s complex relationship to the medieval academic world from various points of view as it emerges in the Paradiso, as well as contributions shedding light on the protagonists or debates of the medieval academic world that play a role in the third cantica. The volume we would like to present aims to address these and other questions, making use of an interdisciplinary method. Please send an expression of interest to the Guest Editors by 15 February 2023.

At the end of Purgatory, Beatrice draws attention to the distance between God’s truth and the human sciences, as represented by the various “schools” on earth. An ‘anti-academic’ attitude – that is, a critical attitude with regard to the “schools on earth” and the intellectual elites of the era – recurs throughout Dante’s work, from the Convivio to the Monarchia. The origins of this ‘anti-academism’ is to be found in the poet’s intellectual formation, from his Florentine formation at the “schools of the religious orders” to his probable attendance at the Bolognese Studium. However, Dante’s relationship with the medieval academic world emerges most clearly in the Paradiso, where he addresses several of the controversies that the academic circles of the time debated, from the ‘moonspots’ to the role of divine justice. If the poet appears receptive to the doctrinal stances of the main late-medieval masters, he also repeatedly adopts autonomous and potentially controversial doctrinal positions. The Paradiso also depicts characters and images reminiscent of the academic world: for instance, Beatrice’s criticism of preachers and those who “filosofeggiano”, Sigier of Brabant alongside Thomas and Bonaventure in the Heaven of the Sun, the simile of the ‘baccellier’ in Par. XXIV, and so on. In particular, the peaceful reunification of the Wise Spirits of the Heaven of the Sun raises the question of whether Dante’s aforementioned ‘anti-academism’ reflects his ambition to build a new ‘school’ on earth, based on the direct acceptance of the divine word and the abandonment of useless sophism. Despite the great attention Dante Studies has paid to these issues, many questions remain unanswered. By what material means did Dante acquire these doctrinal positions? Why did he adopt these positions? Is it possible to identify the targets of his criticisms and potentially polemical stances within the late-medieval intellectual environment? More generally, how did Dante conceive of poetry’s role in the academic context of his times? What is the poetry’s potential as a mediator of scientific truth?

Prof. Dr. Franziska Meier
Dr. Lorenzo Dell'Oso
Guest Editors

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Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

28 pages, 395 KiB  
Article
Dante’s Political Eschatology: Resurrecting the Social Body in Paradiso 14
by Filippo Gianferrari
Humanities 2024, 13(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/h13020059 - 2 Apr 2024
Viewed by 797
Abstract
This article investigates Dante’s engagement with one of the key and most controversial academic questions of the late Middle Ages: the beatific vision after the general resurrection. This essay focuses on Paradiso 14, where the character of King Solomon explains that the souls’ [...] Read more.
This article investigates Dante’s engagement with one of the key and most controversial academic questions of the late Middle Ages: the beatific vision after the general resurrection. This essay focuses on Paradiso 14, where the character of King Solomon explains that the souls’ vision of God will increase after reuniting with their resurrected bodies. After briefly reconstructing the theological debate engaged by Dante’s treatment of the general resurrection, and discussing the prevailing tendencies in the scholarship on Paradiso 14 and the body–soul relationship in the Commedia, this essay provides a new interpretation of this canto from a social and political perspective. It argues that in Dante’s eschatological vision, the resurrected body appears to be essential for the ultimate fulfillment of humanity’s social nature. Full article
12 pages, 282 KiB  
Article
Dante’s Philosophical World in the 21st Century: New Approaches in a Slovak Translation of the Third Canticle
by Monika Šavelová
Humanities 2024, 13(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/h13010032 - 1 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1190
Abstract
To completely understand Dante’s work, we would need to perfectly comprehend the foundations on which it is built, as well as Dante’s own “constructs” and reinterpretations of earlier texts—the transformations of these texts and the whole ideological superstructure of the work built on [...] Read more.
To completely understand Dante’s work, we would need to perfectly comprehend the foundations on which it is built, as well as Dante’s own “constructs” and reinterpretations of earlier texts—the transformations of these texts and the whole ideological superstructure of the work built on them. The goal of this essay is to introduce, for the first time in English-language scholarship, a discussion of Pavol Koprda’s Slovak translation of Dante’s Paradise (2020), the result of extensive Slovak academic research on this topic, based on key sections in which Dante’s philosophical background is revealed, and focusing on an interpretation of the third canticle and a reconciliation of the intellectual debates of Dante’s time. Full article
15 pages, 277 KiB  
Article
The Liturgy of Knowledge in the Heaven of the Sun
by Carmen Costanza
Humanities 2024, 13(1), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/h13010030 - 1 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1172
Abstract
In this paper, I discuss Dante’s conception of theology and rational thinking through a reading of the cantos of the Heaven of the Sun. I address the hermeneutical challenge of understanding the meaning of the peace which Dante identifies as the main feature [...] Read more.
In this paper, I discuss Dante’s conception of theology and rational thinking through a reading of the cantos of the Heaven of the Sun. I address the hermeneutical challenge of understanding the meaning of the peace which Dante identifies as the main feature of divine science, and I do so by employing liturgical hermeneutics, a methodological approach characteristic of the celebration of Mass. This hermeneutical approach looks simultaneously at the constative content of a text and its performative dimension and emphasises the importance of not concealing but taking into account the unavoidable personal dimension of any hermeneutical or intellectual activity. In this way, I challenge the conclusion that the reconciliation of the Wise Spirits is merely and only a textual reality and therefore a beautiful, poetic lie, and I instead show how Dante’s poetic depiction has serious implications for our use and understanding of rational thought. His representation does not rest on the application of the principle of non-contradiction as the ultimate foundation of reality and rational thinking: in Dante’s Paradiso, this abstract principle is replaced by a living reality, and the inner life of the Trinity is shown as being the true foundation for any possible knowledge and reality. Full article
19 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
Dante and Siger: An Intellectual Mission Overcoming Error and Authority
by Annalisa Guzzardi
Humanities 2024, 13(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/h13010016 - 18 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1184
Abstract
This article places the question of the presence of the Averroist philosopher Siger of Brabant in Dante’s Paradiso within the debate concerning Dante’s relationship with Averroistic philosophy throughout his works, particularly in the Commedia. The purpose of this research is to initially query [...] Read more.
This article places the question of the presence of the Averroist philosopher Siger of Brabant in Dante’s Paradiso within the debate concerning Dante’s relationship with Averroistic philosophy throughout his works, particularly in the Commedia. The purpose of this research is to initially query the issue of Dante’s potential retraction of previously adopted Averroistic positions in the Commedia, and then to examine in greater detail the relationship between the Florentine poet and the Brabantian philosopher. United by the thematic and autobiographical thread of knowledge persecuted by power, embodied in the history of both figures, the proposed viewpoint is that Dante finds a model of intellectual honesty and freedom in Siger’s thought, ready to question even the authority of Aristotle, a model that Dante admires, places in Paradise, and upon which he structures his poema sacro. In conclusion, this work suggests a reading of some paradigmatic and antithetical pairs in the Commedia, linked by common principles yet opposite destinies, including Dante himself. Full article
14 pages, 1262 KiB  
Article
Popularizing Paradiso: On the Difficulties of Podcasting Dante’s Most Academic Canticle
by Alexander Eliot Schmid
Humanities 2024, 13(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/h13010013 - 15 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1418
Abstract
The digital humanities are rapidly expanding access to scholarly and literary materials once largely confined to the university. No more: now, with free digital resources, like Giuseppe Mazzotta’s lecture series available for free through Open Yale Courses on YouTube, or Teodolinda Barolini’s 54-lecture [...] Read more.
The digital humanities are rapidly expanding access to scholarly and literary materials once largely confined to the university. No more: now, with free digital resources, like Giuseppe Mazzotta’s lecture series available for free through Open Yale Courses on YouTube, or Teodolinda Barolini’s 54-lecture long “The Dante Course”, also available for free through her Digital Dante website, academic discussions of difficult masterpieces are available to any person with enough bandwidth to handle it. I, too, made a brief foray into the digital humanities, and prior to turning to academic work, I provided a 42-lecture Dante-in-translation course which itself covered the entirety of Dante’s Comedy and sought to offer a less academic, and more accessible series of lectures on Dante than its more academic and more popular predecessors. Full article
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16 pages, 337 KiB  
Article
Dante and the Canonists: Adhesions and Deviations on the Dialectic between Heresy and Schism
by Emanuele Ciarrocchi
Humanities 2024, 13(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/h13010012 - 11 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1463
Abstract
In this article, I will highlight how Dante’s clear separation between heretics and schismatics is radical compared to contemporary thought and can, therefore, tell us a great deal about his conception of these two sins and about the nature of the characters condemned [...] Read more.
In this article, I will highlight how Dante’s clear separation between heretics and schismatics is radical compared to contemporary thought and can, therefore, tell us a great deal about his conception of these two sins and about the nature of the characters condemned in Cantos X and XXVIII. In fact, the heresy of disobedience, a political weapon created ad hoc to favor the imposition of the hierocratic model, tended, in the reflection of jurists, to bring together these two sins so well-separated by Dante. The proposal of a new interpretation of these concepts that is more adherent to their historicity, with a specific and radical meaning, can open up interesting reflections on Dante’s possible desire to affect this historical process. It also brings new interpretations to questions that still lack a convincing answer, such as the silence on the numerous heretical movements that had characterized the decades preceding the writing of the Commedia, the presence of Dolcino among the schismatics, and the selection of Epicurus as an exemplum of heresy. Full article
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