Arielle Saiber, The Rainbow Fire-Breathing Topology and Combinatorics of Dante’s Trinity

From A. Didron, Christian iconography, tr. E. J. Millington, ed. M. Stokes, 1886. Newberry Collection W 0143 .23.
From A. Didron, Christian iconography, tr. E. J. Millington, ed. M. Stokes, 1886. Newberry Collection W 0143 .23.
Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin College
Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin College
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Dante Lecture
Friday, March 20, 2015

2 pm

Please register by 10 am Thursday, March 19

Ruggles Hall

Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin College

2015 will mark the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante Alighieri in 1265, and the 31st year since the first Lectura Dantis Newberrania.

This lecture examines Dante’s description of the shape, motion, size, color, and configuration of the three giri (“rounds”) of the Trinity in Paradiso 33.115-120, in order to envision what the Pilgrim “saw” when looking at this great Mystery. Professor Saiber will consider possible theological, aesthetic, geometric, and nature-based configurations of three “rings” that may have inspired the Poet. In the second part of her talk, she will present the work that mathematician Aba Mbirika and she have done using topology—specifically, knot theory—and combinatorics to analyze one particularly suggestive arrangement for the giri: three intertwined circles in a triangular format. Of this figure’s many permutations, they isolated two variations (a Brunnian link, also called the Borromean rings; and a (3,3)-torus link) that strongly resonated with many of the qualities of Dante’s allusively depicted Trinity.

Learn more about the speaker: Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin College

Download a PDF flyer to post and distribute.

A reception will follow the lecture.

The Center for Renaissance Studies Dante Lectures have been held each year since 2001, bringing Dante scholars from throughout the United States and Europe to the Newberry to present cutting-edge research. From 1983 to 1997, multiple lectures were held each year under the series title Lectura Dantis Newberrania.

Cosponsored with the Devers Program in Dante Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago.

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Cost and registration information: 

This program is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration in advance is required

Register online here. Registrations will be processed through 10 am Thursday, March 19.