About the course
This course is for anyone who wishes to read Dante’s Commedia from beginning to end. Over the course of 54 lectures, each cantica (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso) is read in its entirety. The course is taught in English and can be followed without knowledge of Italian, though familiarity with the language will be helpful. The text is read and referenced in Italian.
Prof. Teodolinda Barolini is Lorenzo da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University. This iteration of her year-long Dante course was taught in 2-hour, twice-weekly sessions during Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 (Dante’s Divina Commedia, Italian W4091 & W4092). The course was recorded and is presented on Digital Dante with the support and resources of Columbia University Libraries Digital Scholarship.
These two-hour lectures are not read from a written text but are presented improvisationally. Professor Barolini has only her copy of the Commedia with her. The result is that the lectures differ from year to year, depending on her current research interests and those of her students. Errors also inevitably occur; they are effectively oral rather than written typos. For instance, it is possible while speaking to attribute a quotation to the wrong character by mistake. Every attempt will be made to flag such errors in an Errata Corrige that will be attached to the individual lecture page.
How to use this course
Since this course spends approximately one hour closely reading each canto, listeners may want to follow along with a copy of the text. The Petrocchi edition of Dante’s Commedia, as well as the English translations of Allen Mandelbaum and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, are available on Digital Dante. Simply click the tab “Text & Translations” on each canto page.
Passages from the Commedia are frequently read aloud by students in the course. Some of these readings are more audible than others. Those seeking a clear, high-quality reading of each canto in its entirety can listen to Prof. Francesco Bausi’s readings of the Commedia.
In past years, students in this course used to receive emails prior to each class, highlighting important themes and passages in the upcoming canti. Those emails, greatly expanded and revised, have now become the Commento Baroliniano. These commentaries can serve as a companion to the lectures for those who wish to delve deeper into Dante scholarship. Those who desire a brief written synopsis of important issues in a canto may consult the bullet points before each commentary. Handouts referenced during the lectures can be viewed on the Commento Baroliniano page for each canto.