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In a famous passage of "Survival in Auschwitz", the novel that emerged from his harrowing experience in the concentration camp, Primo Levi strives to recall from his memory Canto 26 of Dante’s "Inferno" – a canto that narrates the mad flight and tragic fall of the Greek hero Ulysses. Levi’s account of Ulysses’ speech to his companions in "Inferno" 26 turns into the prism through which the reader of "Survival" journeys across nearly three millennia of European history, from the obvious, albeit oblique, echoes of Homer’s "Odyssey" to the rise of a new epochal phenomenon that we have come to describe as Humanism and to the horror of the Nazi concentration camp. Dante’s "Divine Comedy" is the text that allows Levi to glimpse a sign of humanity in this horror, a modern hell that man created on earth. It is in light of the role that Dante plays in "Survival" that this conference aims to assess Dante’s place vis-à-vis modernity: his role as a modern author in vernacular; his prophetic impetus; his theological and political vision; his influence on later writers from Giovanni Boccaccio to John Milton and beyond, as well as on artists from Michelangelo to Dali.

This conference – much like Dante’s "Comedy" – transgresses disciplinary boundaries, bringing together scholars from English, Art History, Philosophy, Religion, History, Political Science, and Italian to explore Dante’s role in informing the modern imaginary; his vision as a prophet and modern author; literary and artistic works inspired by "The Divine Comedy"; the reception of Dante’s work in early modern Europe and beyond; the challenges of teaching Dante in a rapidly evolving academic environment; and the question of freedom – a key issue in the moral and theological economy of the "Comedy" and possibly the most crucial question that Dante’s poem poses to its modern readers.

Support is provided by the Endowment for the UCLA Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies.

Advance registration is not required. No fee. Limited seating. Self-pay parking in lots 2, 3, 4, and 5. Parking information at main.transportation.ucla.edu/campus-parking/visitors

cmrs@humnet.ucla.edu | 310-825-1880 | cmrs.ucla.edu

Friday, October 20, 2017 | UCLA Royce Hall Room 314

8:30 Registration, coffee

9:00 Opening remarks
Massimo Ciavolella (UCLA), Director, CMRS
Andrea Moudarres (UCLA), Conference organizer

9:15 Albert Ascoli (UC Berkeley), President of the Dante Society of America
“‘Quanto durerá l’uso moderno…'”

10:00 Break

Session I | Chair: Andrea Moudarres (UCLA)

10:15 Claire Honess (University of Leeds)
“‘Si presaga mens mea non fallitur’: Dante as political prophet and poet of community”

11:00 Break

11:15 Arielle Saiber (Bowdoin College)
“Fire-Breathing Rainbows and Interlocking Rings: Modern Mathematics and the Mystery of Dante’s Encounter with the Trinity”

12:00 Lunch
Session II | Chair: Catherine Illingworth (UCLA)

1:15 Diane Luby Lane (Director, Get Lit)
Title TBA

1:45 Giuseppe Mazzotta (Yale University)
““Dante’s Liberty and a Modern Story of Creation”

2:30 Break

2:45 Jason Aleksander (National University)
“Free Will as Hermeneutic Praxis in Paradiso 3-7″

3:30 Break

3:45 David Lummus (Stanford University)
“Was Boccaccio’s Dante Modern?”

4:30 Break

4:45 Robert Harrison (Stanford University)
“Dividing the Modern World between Them: Dante and Shakespeare”

Saturday, October 21, 2017 | UCLA Royce Hall 314

9:00 Coffee, fruit, pastries

Session III | Chair: Sarah Cantor (UCLA)

9:30 Bronwen Wilson (UCLA)
“Stone Matters: Sandro Botticelli’s Drawings for Dante’s Inferno and Early Modern Mining”

10:15 Break

10:30 Heather Webb (University of Cambridge)
“Consortual Vision in Botticelli’s Illustrations of Paradiso”

11:15 Break

11:30 Jacqueline Musacchio (Wellesley College)
“Dante for Sale”

12:15 Lunch
Session IV | Chair: Thomas Harrison (UCLA)

1:30 Martino Marazzi (Università degli Studi di Milano)
“Rise and fall of an ‘imperial’ Dante. The fascist project of the Danteum, from Rome to Ravensbrück”

2:15 Break

2:30 Deborah Parker (University of Virginia)
“JFK’s Dante”

3:15 Break

3:30 Efraín Kristal (UCLA)
“Melancholy at the Center of the Globe; or Peter Sloterdijk’s Interpretation of Dante’s Inferno“

4:15 Break

4:30 Uri Rom (Tel Aviv University)
“Setting Dante – an Ever New Challenge” | Presentation + Performance
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Dante and Modernity

October 20, 2017, 9:00am - October 21, 2017, 4:00pm

In a famous passage of "Survival in Auschwitz", the novel that emerged from his harrowing experience in the concentration camp, Primo Levi strives to recall from his memory Canto 26 of Dante’s "Infe...

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Congratulations to Meredith Cohen (UCLA, Art History) for receiving the 2017 Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award. This book award is given annually by the Society of Architectural Historians in recognition of the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of architecture published by a North American scholar. Professor Cohen’s book, "The Sainte-Chapelle and the Construction of Sacral Monarchy: Royal Architecture in Thirteenth-Century Paris", brings together architectural, urban, and political history to explain how the Sainte-Chapelle shaped the physical form, social space, and political identity of Paris as a royal capital in the High Middle Ages.


Professor Cohen is teaching this Fall's CMRS Seminar. The course's theme is “Materiality” and enrollment is open to UCLA graduate students. Given the ever increasing virtuality of experience and its concomitant relativities, scholars have turned in the past decade to examining the spectrum of materiality. This course will examine that concept in its broadest parameters, from the processes of making and exchange to thing theory and the limits of absence. The course will be based on our own analysis of theoretical models on the subject as well as different approaches to materiality scholars have taken in their own research.

Speakers will include:

October 23: Hussein Fancy (History, University of Michigan)

November 6: Thomas Nickson, (Art History, Courtauld Institute of Art, London)
“Light as Material in the Middle Ages”

November 21: Therese Martin (Art History, Instituto de Historia, CCHS, Madrid)
“The Materialization of Power by Ruling Women: Cross-Cultural Case Studies from Islamic and Christian Iberia, 960-1120"

December 4: Brigitte Bedos-Rezak (History, New York University)
“On the Materiality of Parchment and Wax”
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