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FA-55993-11
Dante's Bones and the Idea of Italy
Guy Raffa, University of Texas, Austin

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-55993-11

The Amazing Adventures of Dante's Bones (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Amazing Adventures of Dante's Bones
Author: Guy Raffa
Abstract: Holy grave robbers, a conspiracy of silence, a forgotten coffin, an empty tomb, hidden bones, exhumations, cranial measurements—"The Amazing Adventures of Dante's Bones" assembles and interprets these and other pieces of Dante's skeletal history from his death in Ravenna in 1321 to a computer-generated reconstruction of his face in 2006. As Italy prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday as a nation, many scholars are turning their attention to issues of Italian nationhood and identity. This talk highlights Dante's important place in this discussion by showing how individuals and institutions have used events surrounding his tomb and remains to promote various political, religious, and cultural agendas. Arguing that physical claims on Dante's bones are ideological claims on his legitimating authority, "Amazing Adventures" traces the poet's evolution from an object of regional rivalry in the Renaissance and the founding father of Italy in the nineteenth century into a nationalist symbol during the fascist period before becoming the global icon he is today.
Date: 3/22/2013
Primary URL: http://www.utexas.edu/cola/research/humanities-research-awards.php
Primary URL Description: Home page of the Humanities Research program of the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Texas at Austin. This page will feature the symposium program.
Conference Name: Humanities Research Award Symposium

Dante's Hell and Its Afterlife (Course or Curricular Materials) [show prizes]
Title: Dante's Hell and Its Afterlife
Author: Guy Raffa
Abstract: Dante Alighieri may not have invented Hell but he created the most powerful and enduring vision of the underworld as a place of eternal punishment for lost souls in the afterlife. This course takes you on a journey down through the nine circles of Hell presented in Dante's Inferno. "Danteworlds," a book and award-winning Web site created here at UT, will help guide you by portraying infernal creatures and scenes and by explaining the medieval poem's vast array of references to religion, philosophy, history, politics, and other works of literature. Along the way, you will encounter adaptations and echoes of Dante's Inferno in selected literary, artistic, cinematic, and popular works, ranging from Sandro Botticelli's illustrations, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and a silent Inferno film to T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," Vincent Ward's What Dreams May Come, and Dante-inspired music and video games.
Year: 2013
Primary URL: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~guyr/UGS3032013264395.pdf
Primary URL Description: Course syllabus
Audience: K - 12

Dante's Afterlives (Course or Curricular Materials)
Title: Dante's Afterlives
Author: Guy Raffa
Abstract: Summarizing Dante's popularity in Italy in the early twentieth century, one critic amusingly observed that the medieval poet "was cooked in every sauce, served hot and cold, grilled and in gelatin, whole and ground, alone or with sides, with critical mayonnaise and historical croutons: there was something for all tastes, for strong stomachs and for dyspeptic ones, for women and for men, for kindergartners and for doddering academics." In this course we will seek intellectual nourishment at the banquet of Dante's legacy by closely examining a broad range of responses to the poet—the man and his works—from Giovanni Boccaccio's biography in the late Middle Ages to Roberto Benigni's recent performances of TuttoDante. Between the Dante-inspired works of Boccaccio and Benigni, we will study various, often conflicting, versions of "Dante" in literature, art, film, politics, history, and popular culture. After establishing a foundation for Dante's influence by discussing his political treatise (Monarchia) and selected cantos of his Commedia (most from Inferno), we will embark on an interpretive journey tracing Dante's evolution from a regional to a national (then nationalist) figure before he attained the global status he enjoys today. Giuseppe Mazzini famously called Dante—Ugo Foscolo's "Ghibelline fugitive"—the "Prophet of the Italian Nation": we will accordingly examine appeals to Dante's authority in promoting the liberation and unification of Italy, but we will also consider his role as a beacon of liberty in the United States. Among other areas of inquiry, we will discuss Catholic interpretations of Dante as a neo-Guelph advocate of papal political power, nationalist appropriations of the poet for territorial expansion and military interventions, and recent representations of Dante as an icon of Italian culture on the world stage.
Year: 2013
Audience: K - 12

What the Head of Hiring at Google Doesn't Understand About Skills (Article)
Title: What the Head of Hiring at Google Doesn't Understand About Skills
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Abstract: Based on his "bipartisan" educational background as a math / computer science major with a PhD in Italian, the author argues that rigorous humanities classes train students "to innovate, think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems, regardless of their majors. The best programs in English (and indeed in departments across all branches of learning) help to produce such students."
Year: 2014
Primary URL: http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2014/05/28/what-the-head-of-hiring-at-google-doesnt-understand-about-skills/
Primary URL Description: Link to the article in the "Conversations" blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education web site. Reprinted in The Chronicle Review. June 20, 2014: B2.
Access Model: open access
Format: Journal
Format: Other
Periodical Title: Chronicle of Higher Education

Dante's Hell and Its Afterlife (Book Section)
Title: Dante's Hell and Its Afterlife
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Editor: Lori Holleran Steiker
Abstract: Shows how "news from hell," a creative, collaborative assignment helps students to to articulate a deeper understanding of Dante's complex poem while developing and sharpening their research, writing, and oral presentation skills.
Year: 2015
Primary URL: https://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/holleran-steiker-signature-course-stories
Primary URL Description: University of Texas Press website
Secondary URL: http://towertalk.utexas.edu/2015/05/19/new-book-on-signature-courses-shares-uts-educational-innovations/
Secondary URL Description: UT President William Powers praises the book.
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Book Title: Signature Course Stories
ISBN: 978-1-4773-079

Dantemania: Looking Back Today for a Better Tomorrow (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Dantemania: Looking Back Today for a Better Tomorrow
Abstract: Dante Alighieri is known today for his poetic journey through the afterlife, even by those who haven’t read a single word that he wrote 700 years ago in Italy. Forget about the proliferation of translations, studies, and college courses touting Dante and his work: when a video game inspired by your Inferno is launched during half time of the Super Bowl, when Don Draper reads your lines on a Hawaiian beach to open a season of Mad Men, and when Dan Brown bases his latest blockbuster on your poem and its enduring influence, you know you’ve become a word-wide celebrity. What do these and other reinventions of Dante’s own creation tell us about the medieval poet and his world? What do they tell us about our world and ourselves? Dantemania will show how studying the past can shape a better future through a clearer understanding of the present.
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Date: 9/29/14
Location: Bass Concert Hall, University of Texas at Austin
Primary URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKCoLNCmBPw
Primary URL Description: Video of the panel, "In the Creative Mind"

Dante's Fascist Bones (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Dante's Fascist Bones
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Abstract: This paper focuses on the nationalist, often bellicose, use of Dante to support claims to "unredeemed" Italian territory on the eve of the Great War, and the appropriation of the poet as a symbol of Italian nationhood on the eve of Mussolini's rise to power. To highlight Dante's role in the cultural formation of Italian identity leading into and during the ventennio, I discuss materials ranging from battleship "Dante Alighieri" and D'Annunzio's interventionist speeches to scientific reports worshiping Dante's exhumed bones and political propaganda deifying Il Duce as the poet's prophesied veltro come to save Italy. Just as Dante's body fueled nationalist fervor at the advent of fascism, so his mortal remains helped sound the regime's death knell: with the war lost and the Republic of Salò on the verge of collapse, Alessandro Pavolini, the party secretary, proposes gathering fascist leaders and soldiers at an alpine retreat, and to have Dante's bones brought there from Ravenna so the movement can go out in a blaze of glory alongside the remains of the "massimo simbolo di italianità."
Date: 3/27/15
Conference Name: American Association of Italian Studies

Dante's Immortal Remains: From Florentine Martyr to Global Icon (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Dante's Immortal Remains: From Florentine Martyr to Global Icon
Abstract: Grave robbing, hidden bones, empty tombs, exhumation, sacred dust—Dante's Immortal Remains assembles these and other pieces of Dante's lively skeletal history, from his burial in 1321 to a computer-generated reconstruction of his face in 2006. This lecture puts flesh on Dante's bones by showing how the poet's physical afterlife illuminates his evolution from Boccaccio's object of regional rivalry between Florence and Ravenna into Mazzini's prophet of Italy and Mussolini's proponent of Italian nationalism before becoming the global icon inspiring such popular works as Dan Brown's Inferno.
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Date: 11/15/13
Location: Newberry Library, Chicago
Primary URL: http://www.newberry.org/11152013-guy-raffa
Primary URL Description: Newberry library website for the Annual Dante Lecture

Bones of Contention: Ravenna's and Florence's Claims to Dnte's Remains" (Article)
Title: Bones of Contention: Ravenna's and Florence's Claims to Dnte's Remains"
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Abstract: This article analyzes Florence’s final serious attempt, on the eve of national celebrations in honor of Dante and Italy, to retrieve Dante’s bones from Ravenna. Breaking down the skillful diplomatic dance performed by the two cities in letters, resolutions, and meeting minutes, it shows how Italy’s unification did not favor Florentine claims to Dante’s bones; if anything, it gave Ravenna permanent possession of the poet’s remains. Ravenna’s “great refusal” of Florence’s petition set the stage for future wrangling over relics of Italy’s secular saint.
Year: 2015
Primary URL: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=5e676360-b48e-4a12-8193-b2fc86e3f6bf%40sessionmgr4003&vid=0&hid=4110
Primary URL Description: Columbia University Libraries
Access Model: Open
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Italica
Publisher: Italica

Dante at Arms (Article)
Title: Dante at Arms
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Abstract: Dante Alighieri's service in the Florentine cavalry during two military campaigns in 1289 is an often ignored but influential chapter in the life of the author of the Divine Comedy. "Dante at Arms," a short piece of historical nonfiction written for an ambitious general readership, is the product of research I conducted for my current book-project on Dante's graveyard history (the fate of his tomb and mortal remains) and its significance. This project has been funded by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Year: 2016
Primary URL: http://go.galegroup.com/ps//i.do?ty=as&id=GALE%7CA452373497&v=2.1&u=nysl_sc_cornl&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&rssr=rss&asid=d2a099c231b0e4ad31631d481aece249
Primary URL Description: AcademicOneFile (Gale)
Access Model: open
Format: Magazine
Periodical Title: MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History
Publisher: HIstory.net

Dante's Festival and Funeral: Regional Rivalry in the New Nation (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Dante's Festival and Funeral: Regional Rivalry in the New Nation
Abstract: My presentation shows how the spectacular celebration of Dante's six-hundredth birthday on May14-16, 1865 in Florence, the new capital of Italy, doubled not only as a love-fest toasting the young nation's independence but also as a rallying cry to complete unification with the additions of Venice (1866) and Rome (1870). Over three days and nights a tightly choreographed variety of events—from the procession of representatives from cities and towns all over Italy and the unveiling of Enrico Pazzi's colossal Dante statue to musical performances, dances, horse races, banquets, and exhibits—exploited Dante's authority as Mazzini's "Profeta della nazione italiana" to reinforce Florentine (and Tuscan) power on the national stage. Regional tensions in Italy's emerging national narrative resurfaced at the end of May with the timely discovery of Dante's bones in Ravenna and that city's own celebration-cum-memorial service. When Dante's remains were returned to his original tomb after three days of public veneration (June 24-26, 1865), the officiating priest couched the discovery of the poet's bones as "a miracle to justify the prophetic declaration of the hoped-for unity and prosperity of Italy." Drawing on previously unstudied eye-witness accounts and newspaper coverage in addition to existing scholarship, I argue that the national celebrations of Dante in 1865 belie the continuation of regional rivalries and conflicts—particularly among Florence, Ravenna, and Rome—within Italian social, cultural, and political life in the nineteenth century and beyond.
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Date: 01/10/2016
Location: Austin, Texas
Primary URL: https://apps.mla.org/conv_listings_detail?prog_id=726&year=2016
Primary URL Description: 2016 MLA program

Dante and Don: The Word Made Flesh and the Word Made Cash (Article)
Title: Dante and Don: The Word Made Flesh and the Word Made Cash
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Abstract: Whether used to help people to survive, promote the highbrow wares of Italy and a liberal arts education, or hawk consumer goods ranging from perfume to toilet paper, one thing about Dante’s work is more true today than ever before: he enjoys immense posthumous popularity — commercially and politically as well as academically and artistically — because he’s a canonical figure with broad-based appeal, a magnet for elite and mainstream audiences alike. Here I analyze Dante's resonance in the popular TV series Mad Men.
Year: 2015
Primary URL: http://www.popmatters.com/feature/196534-dante-and-don-the-word-made-flesh-and-the-word-made-cash/
Primary URL Description: PopMatters: online magazine of popular culture
Access Model: open
Format: Magazine
Periodical Title: PopMatters
Publisher: PopMatters

Fragments of Freedom: Dante's Relic in the Re-United States (Article)
Title: Fragments of Freedom: Dante's Relic in the Re-United States
Author: Guy P. Raffa
Abstract: Based on archival research at Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site and Harvard's Houghton Library, this essay provides the first full account of pieces of Dante's coffin gathered by a stone mason upon discovery of the poet's stolen bones in 1865. Through analysis of unpublished letters and other documents (several transcribed or translated for the first time), I trace the provenance of this relic, showing how Longfellow, soon after completing the first American translation of the Divine Comedy as the nation emerged from civil war, enshrined the fragments of Dante's coffin in his study in Cambridge—the very room in which Washington had consulted with military officers and political leaders when he broke the Siege of Boston and set the Colonies on their path toward independence in 1776. I contribute to scholarship examining Dante's place in nineteenth-century narratives of independence and liberation by placing the relic within the context of Longfellow's literary and epistolary responses to slavery and the civil war. Revered at a location in the "Re-United" States intimately connected with the nation's founding revolution, these physical traces of Dante's afterlife reinforce the poet's reputation as a prophet of political freedom for readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Year: 2016
Primary URL: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1ps8s9kd
Primary URL Description: eScholarship: California Italian Studies. Permalink
Access Model: Open Access
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: California Italian Studies
Publisher: University of California, eScholarship


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