Dante's "Divine Comedy": A Biography
Joseph Luzzi (PhD, Yale) is Professor of Comparative Literature at Bard College. He is the author of In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love (HarperCollins); My Two Italies (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film (Johns Hopkins UP), a finalist for the Book Award “The Bridge,” from the American Initiative for Italian Culture Foundation; and Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy (Yale UP), winner of the MLA’s Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, TLS, Chronicle of Higher Education, Bookforum, and American Scholar. Awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and NEH Fellowship from the National Humanities Center.
For my Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, I will work on my forthcoming book Dante’s “Divine Comedy”: A Biography, which will be published by Princeton UP in their Lives of Great Religious Books series. Despite the mountains of scholarship on Dante, we still lack a scholarly yet accessible book that examines the impact of his Divine Comedy across the centuries, artistic media, and national traditions. I aim to provide this missing work, as my study is geared for scholars from Italian Studies, Art History, Film Studies, Comparative Literature, as well as all readers interested in seeing how Dante’s poem has shaped global literary culture over the centuries. The focus of my research in Florence will be the impact of The Divine Comedy in the modern era, 19th-21st centuries. I will be especially interested in drawing on I Tatti’s rich resources in the illustration history of Dante as I write my chapter on his presence in the work of 19th- and 20th-century artists. I will also benefit from I Tatti’s proximity to such Florentine research sites as the Società Dantesca Italiana, where I will consult key materials on Dante’s reception, and the Laurentian and Riccardiana Libraries, where I can study the early manuscript tradition of The Divine Comedy.