Special Issue "Teaching Dante"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2019)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Christopher Metress

Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 205-908-6574
Interests: The Christian intellectual tradition; interdisciplinary pedagogy; religion and civil rights

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will publish articles based on papers presented at Third Biennial Teaching the Christian Intellectual Tradition Conference held at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, on October 25-27, 2018. The conference theme, “Teaching Dante,” explored pedagogical methods for integrating the study of Dante into undergraduate curricula, particularly but not exclusively into core curriculum and general education courses. The pedagogical focus of “Teaching Dante” will extend to the Special Issue and will differentiate this issue in the vast field of Dante studies.

Dr. Christopher Metress
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 550 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Dante
  • pedagogy
  • interdisciplinarity
  • literary studies
  • philosophy
  • core and general education curricula
  • Great books programs

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Understanding Dante’s Comedy as Virtuous Friendship
Religions 2019, 10(3), 219; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030219 (registering DOI)
Received: 5 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 20 March 2019 / Published: 22 March 2019
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Abstract
As Dante explains in his epistle to Can Grande, the purpose of the Comedy is to move the reader from a state of misery to a state of happiness. The poet himself testifies that the poem was written as a work of moral [...] Read more.
As Dante explains in his epistle to Can Grande, the purpose of the Comedy is to move the reader from a state of misery to a state of happiness. The poet himself testifies that the poem was written as a work of moral philosophy oriented to the achievement of happiness, eudaimonia: the beatific vision of God. Moreover, Dante insists on his poem’s efficacy to affect in its readers a similar moral and religious transformation as that which the poem represents through the narrative journey of the pilgrim. To put it another way, Dante represents his poem’s relationship to its reader as a kind of virtuous friendship. This essay sets forth a model for teaching Dante’s poem as an experiment in virtuous friendship that can transform the classroom into a workshop for the philosophical and religious quest for happiness. This involves teaching the text with an eye not only to the content and style of the poem but also to the performative and participatory demands of the text. Beginning with this framework, this essay works out pedagogical strategies for teaching the Comedy as a form of virtuous friendship extended over the centuries between Dante Alighieri and the contemporary reader. Chiefly, I explore ways Dante makes his readers complicit in the pilgrim’s own moral and spiritual journey toward the virtue of hope translated into the practice of prayer through a close, pedagogical reading of Inferno 3, Purgatorio 5, and Paradiso 20. I explore ways that Dante’s use of surprise, shock, misdirection, appeal to mystery, and retreat to silence creates a morally significant aporia of knowledge that serves as a laboratory for readers’ own virtuous transformation. I end with a critical assessment of the challenges involved in understanding the Comedy as virtuous friendship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle Pilgrim Readers: Introducing Undergraduates to Dante’s Divine Comedy
Religions 2019, 10(3), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030191
Received: 12 January 2019 / Revised: 8 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 14 March 2019
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Abstract
In the context of undergraduate education, “Teaching Dante” often means reading selected cantos from the Divine Comedy, most, if not all of them, taken from the Inferno. I suggest, however, that Dante’s aims in the Divine Comedy, as well as the [...] Read more.
In the context of undergraduate education, “Teaching Dante” often means reading selected cantos from the Divine Comedy, most, if not all of them, taken from the Inferno. I suggest, however, that Dante’s aims in the Divine Comedy, as well as the particular experiences related in the Inferno itself, cannot be understood from any perspective offered by the Inferno alone. In spelling out my reasons for saying this I offer an approach to the text that includes readings from each of its three cantiche within the sometimes severe time-limitations of an undergraduate course. Central to this approach is the notion that student-readers of the Divine Comedy are called upon by the poem to be not mere observers of the experiences of the poet-pilgrim but to become themselves “pilgrim-readers.” In this presentation, this “call” is itself explored through the treatment of “divine justice” within the poem. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle Three Things My Students Have Taught Me about Reading Dante
Religions 2019, 10(3), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030181
Received: 28 January 2019 / Revised: 5 March 2019 / Accepted: 7 March 2019 / Published: 12 March 2019
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Abstract
Many professors who teach Dante’s Divine Comedy, or any great text, in the general education classroom see in it an opportunity to teach their students to humble themselves before texts older and greater than students’ own personal views and experiences. However, such [...] Read more.
Many professors who teach Dante’s Divine Comedy, or any great text, in the general education classroom see in it an opportunity to teach their students to humble themselves before texts older and greater than students’ own personal views and experiences. However, such a stance can blind professors to the important lessons their students have to teach them about Dante, about pedagogical techniques, and about the professors themselves and their own biases. This article discusses three things my own students have taught me about reading—and teaching—Dante, and invites other professors to look for the places where their students act as the Virgil to their Dante rather than the other way around. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle Not the Same Old Story: Dante’s Re-Telling of The Odyssey
Religions 2019, 10(3), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030171
Received: 10 January 2019 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 6 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
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Abstract
Dante’s Divine Comedy is frequently taught in core curriculum programs, but the mixture of classical and Christian symbols can be confusing to contemporary students. In teaching Dante, it is helpful for students to understand the concept of noumenal truth that underlies the symbol. [...] Read more.
Dante’s Divine Comedy is frequently taught in core curriculum programs, but the mixture of classical and Christian symbols can be confusing to contemporary students. In teaching Dante, it is helpful for students to understand the concept of noumenal truth that underlies the symbol. In re-telling the Ulysses’ myth in Canto XXVI of The Inferno, Dante reveals that the details of the narrative are secondary to the spiritual truth he wishes to convey. Dante changes Ulysses’ quest for home and reunification with family in the Homeric account to a failed quest for knowledge without divine guidance that results in Ulysses’ destruction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
Open AccessArticle “Where Are We Going?” Dante’s Inferno or Richard Rorty’s “Liberal Ironist”
Religions 2019, 10(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010049
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 7 January 2019 / Accepted: 12 January 2019 / Published: 14 January 2019
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Abstract
This paper elucidates the structure of moral action by arguing that Dante’s explanation in the Inferno of why people end up in their respective circles of hell is superior in terms of accounting for the structure of moral reasoning to Richard Rorty’s promotion [...] Read more.
This paper elucidates the structure of moral action by arguing that Dante’s explanation in the Inferno of why people end up in their respective circles of hell is superior in terms of accounting for the structure of moral reasoning to Richard Rorty’s promotion of the “liberal ironist.” The latter suffers an internal contradiction—it wants a well-lived life without any overriding aims, but such a life is understandable only in light of affirming life-aims. The former convincingly shows that the structure of action reveals the truth of the well-known apothegm—“we reap what we sow.” The main point for Dante is not who is rational (for even the rational can be vicious, as depicted in the Inferno), but whose aims actually fulfill the practical life. This comparison of Dante and Rorty can have larger pedagogical aims, helping students to understand better what Albert William Levi calls “the moral imagination” and deepening their appreciation of how metaphors and paradigms of moral excellence provide, or fail to provide, an overriding unity and purpose to our actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Dante)
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