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Dante and the Idea of Italy

Tuesday 23 November 2021, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Dr Tristan Kay, University of Bristol

Medieval Literatures Autumn Term Research Seminar

Few writers have become more closely identified with the nation and with nationalism than Dante. This paper will look at some key moments of nationalist (mis)appropriation of the poet, focusing on the 1865 anniversary in Florence, and its attempts to consecrate Dante as a national icon, and three readings of the poet under fascism, in which Dante is presented as an opponent to internationalism and cosmopolitanism. The paper will reflect on the problems and distortions inherent in any reading of Dante as a ‘national’ figure and on how the strikingly diverse uses of Dante in the name of Italy over the last two centuries, while usually intended to demonstrate the nation’s essential and immutable qualities, instead attest to its contested and historically contingent character.

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Location: Zoom