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Guy Placido Raffa
University of Texas, Austin (Austin, TX 78712-0100)
Dante's American Afterlife

Research and writing of a book on the influence of Italian poet Dante Alighieri (d. 1321) on American culture. 

This is the first public-oriented book entirely committed to the story of Dante’s American afterlife. It shows the deep and broad impact of the poet’s most famous afterworld on American culture as we approach the 700th anniversary of his death (2021). The consummate crossover work, Dante’s Inferno has sparked creative minds across the cultural spectrum, from Longfellow’s Civil War writings and Harry Lachman’s depression-era Inferno film to Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men TV series and popular fiction by Sylvain Reynard and Dan Brown. The book’s four parts examine the history and meaning of these and other works through the lens of Dante’s main American roles: citizen, showman, lover, and judge. The book’s brightest threads are the dangerous allure and ethical teaching of the Inferno that, often entwined, encourage and characterize responses to the poem. I enliven the prose with insights drawn from archival research and my involvement with the video game that featured my Inferno commentary.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Cultural History; Italian Literature; U.S. History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021