BRISTOL, Tenn. — In the seven centuries since the death of Dante Alighieri, the influence of this medieval author, poet and philosopher has touched everything from the Renaissance to modern attitudes about the afterlife — even the signs reading “abandon all hope” that appear in World of Warcraft video games.
Widely known as the father of the Italian language, Dante is best known for authoring “The Divine Comedy,” one of the world’s greatest literary works, in which the author journeys through hell, purgatory and heaven.
“Part of Dante’s lasting appeal is that he wrote a literally scorching review of religion and society,” said Martin Dotterweich, Ph.D., professor of history and director of King University’s Institute for Faith and Culture. “Depicting famous people in hell, including popes and politicians, is the kind of thing that entertains readers in any era. It also tends to get you exiled.”
In an exploration of Dante’s works, King University’s Institute for Faith and Culture will hold two Facebook Live events entitled “The Seven-Century Journey: A Celebration of Dante Alighieri.”
The first event, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. on Facebook, will feature an online discussion with English priest and acclaimed poet Malcolm Guite, entitled “Never Out of Date: Dante as Contemporary, Friend, and Companion.” For more information and to participate, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/257042682622570.
A Supernumerary Fellow and former chaplain at Girton College in Cambridge, England, Guite teaches at the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge and widely lectures on theology and literature throughout England and North America. He has authored several books, including “Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination.” A Cambridge graduate, he obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy from Durham University in Durham, England.
“Malcolm has a strong interest in the imagination as an essential waypoint between religion and literature, including the ways in which poetry awakens and stimulates the spiritual life,” said Dotterweich. “His extensive knowledge of literary history, as well as his wide variety of hobbies, including riding his Harley, sailing, researching old books and performing in a rock band, will bring lively and thoughtful insight to our discussion.”
The second event, scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, at 1 p.m. on Facebook, will feature Guite, along with author and commentator Rod Dreher and Jennifer Holberg, Ph.D. For more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/kingfaithandculture/?fref=tag.
Dreher is a senior editor and blogger at The American Conservative and is the author of three New York Times best-sellers — “Live Not By Lies,” “The Benedict Option” and “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming.” In addition, he wrote “How Dante Can Save Your Life” and has written about religion, politics, film and culture for National Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and other publications.
“Rod Dreher’s book, ‘How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem,’ is an intimate account of reading ‘The Divine Comedy’ during a time of crisis,” Dotterweich said. “It’s a wonderful book for people searching for solace, healing and meaning in their lives, and Rod’s journey before and since discovering Dante will add a fresh and personal perspective to our discussion.”
A professor of English at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Holberg counts “The Divine Comedy” as one of her favorite works and regularly travels to Italy with students to study Dante in his original setting. She is the co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing and the founding co-editor of the Duke University Press journal, “Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture.” She received her B.A. in English and history from New Mexico State University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington.
“Dante remains incredibly relevant, even 700 years after his death,” said Holberg. “Every time I teach the Commedia, I connect with issues we still grapple with today. Like us, Dante lived in a very fraught time, so his journey is a model of the pilgrimage we all can undertake to discover the God whose love is the prime mover of the universe.”
Both events are free to the public, and registration is not required.
For more information about the King Institute for Faith and Culture, visit king.edu/faithandculture.