Italian Studies Research Seminar (Online) | Liminal Narratives of Self-Destruction in Dante’s Commedia and Beyond
Department of Italian Studies Research Seminar Series
Liminal Narratives of Self-Destruction in Dante’s Commedia and Beyond
Emma Louise Barlow (University of Sydney)
This paper examines the reception of Dantean conceptions of suicide in the later medieval and early modern Italian literary tradition. Dante’s influence on the Western literary tradition at large is indisputable, and the indebtedness of the later medieval and early modern writers to be examined in this paper, from Petrarch to Tasso, has been the focus of much scholarly work. While scholarship acknowledges the presence of Dante’s poetic and thematic legacy within many of the works to be examined herein, the influence of Dante’s liminal depiction of suicide has not been noted. Dante’s portrayal of suicide as an act that embodies liminality and hybridity was highly visible to the authors of the later Italian literary tradition, and at times it profoundly influenced the way in which suicide was represented in that tradition. This paper will analyse literary depictions of suicide in the works of authors ranging from Petrarch and Boccaccio, who were writing in the time immediately following Dante’s death, to authors such as Bandello and Tasso, whose works share features of both later Renaissance and counter-reformation literature. It will argue that the scope of the implementation of Dante’s portrayal of suicide in the later Italian tradition is testament to his unorthodox decision to explore in great detail and nuance a subject ordinarily dominated by taboo.
About the speaker
Emma Louise Barlow recently completed a PhD in Italian Studies at the University of Sydney. She has a BA (Langs) (Hons) also from the University of Sydney and an MSt in Modern Languages (Medieval and Early Modern Italian) from the University of Oxford. She has an article in press for Cerae vol. 7 (2020) on ‘Emotional Minds and Bodies in the Suicide Narratives of Dante’s Inferno’, and an article titled ‘punto / per compassion: The Violent Rhetoric of Compassion in Dante’s Commedia’ that has been accepted for publication in a special issue of Parergon on early modern discourses of compassion (2022), and her co-authored chapter (with Dr Alice Loda, UTS) titled ‘Neville Longbottom and the Multifarious Learning Environment: Inclusivity and Reciprocity at Hogwarts’ was published this year in Lessons from Hogwarts: Essays on the Pedagogy of Harry Potter (McFarland, 2020). She has presented her work at conferences in Australia, the UK, the USA, and Italy. Her research interests include medieval and early modern Italian literature, lyric poetry, the history of emotions, intellectual history, palaeography and codicology, digital humanities, and pedagogical practices.
For more information, contact: Associate Professor Francesco Borghesi – firstname.lastname@example.org