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  • Lecture

Dante vs Dante: Material Traditions of the Lyric and the Construction of Poetic Authority

Laura Banella, University of Notre Dame & the 2022-2023 Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies and the Center for Italian Studies Fellow in Italian Manuscript Studies

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Thursday, March 16, 5:15 - 6:30 pm EST
Kislak Center, Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, 6th Floor & Online
Open to the Public

Hosted by: Kislak Center

Dante Alighieri, with a laurel crown, is seated at a desk and looking at a manuscript on a stand and one on desk in front of him.

The talk illuminates the distinctive qualities attributed to lyric poetry and lyric poets through the lens of Dante and the material tradition of his lyrics between the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Through a selection of peculiar lyric anthologies, ranging from the few elite illuminated codices of Dante’s lyric poetry to the many humble collections and up to lyric series found in merchant account books that encompass Dante’s lyrics, coming from both dominant cultural centers–like Florence and Venice—and peripheral areas, from Dante’s times to the early Renaissance, the talk investigates the many ways in which Dante’s lyric poetry was read and circulated independently from the Commedia, thus illuminating how these diverse publics correspond to ‘different Dantes’. Exploring the role of Dante as a major cultural authority as diffracted by scribes, compilers, artists, and other poets, and the ways in which his authorial persona as a lyric poet has been (re)shaped as an authoritative or non-authoritative figure in various material contexts, allows for a new understanding of cultural authority and of the role of the diverse actors involved in the circulation of the literary work. What is more, it sheds new light on the ways in which cultural authority is diffracted and diversely constructed in relation to different literary genres (lyric poetry vs the poetry of the Commedia), times, and places.


Featured image: Dante Alighieri, detail from Luca Signorelli's fresco, Chapel of San Brizio, Orvieto Cathedral. Photo by Georges Jansoone (JoJan); taken on 30 April 2008, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.