Italian Studies Research Seminar | Liminal Geographies of Suicide in Dante’s Commedia
Department of Italian Studies Research Seminar Series
Liminal Geographies of Suicide in Dante’s Commedia: Hybrid Bodies and Border Spaces in Otherworldly Narratives of Self-Destruction
Emma Barlow, University of Sydney
This paper examines the modes of representation of Dante’s conception of suicide in the Commedia. Previous studies have limited themselves to examinations of Pier della Vigna and the anonymous Florentine suicide (embodying the medieval Christian condemnation of suicide) and Cato (the ‘exception to the rule’). As a result, a comprehensive analysis of Dante’s treatment of the complex theme of suicide has not yet been attempted. Firstly this paper will raise notions of liminality and hybridity, as well as the theme of exile, as foundational to the close textual analyses conducted in the study. It will also assess the intellectual history of suicide upon which Dante was likely drawing. The paper will then move to an examination of the textual depiction of the Commedia suicides, in an attempt to understand the connection between medieval conceptions of suicide and Dante’s semi-human and physically marginalised suicides. Finally it will survey the reception of Dantean depictions of suicide in the later Italian literary tradition. The conclusion situates suicide as a literary theme replicating Dante’s experience of exile. This paper therefore aims to rethink Dante’s Commedia as playing a far more significant role in the Western intellectual history of suicide than had previously been considered.
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. Her paper ‘Autoesegesi e autoreferenza dalle Rime alla Commedia’ is to published in 2020 as part of the conference proceedings for AlmaDante 2016, and her co-authored chapter (with Dr Alice Loda, UTS) on ‘Neville Longbottom and the Multifarious Learning Environment: Inclusivity and Reciprocity at Hogwarts’ is to be included in a volume on ‘The Pedagogy of Harry Potter’, in press with McFarland for 2020. She has presented her work at conferences in Australia, the UK, the USA, Italy, and Spain. 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: A/Prof Francesco Borghesi – email@example.com