Liberating the Soul: A Comedy in Three Parts, by Dante Alighieri | Newberry

Liberating the Soul: A Comedy in Three Parts, by Dante Alighieri

Monday, October 16, 2017

9:30 am to 12:30 pm

The Newberry

Dr. Seemee Ali, Carthage College
Newberry Teachers' Consortium

“The Inferno” is the only portion of Dante’s great Commedia the majority of twenty-first-century readers will encounter. Regrettably, this means that the majority of Dante’s readers mistakenly think of Dante as merely a moralist: first and foremost, a writer who is primarily interested in sin and its punishment. But the Inferno forms only a minor fraction of the greater poem Dante wrote in the early 1300s. The true subject of the Commedia is the liberation of the soul. In “Paradiso,” the third and final part of the epic, Dante invents a new word for his profound vision of liberation: trasumanar (“to transhumanize,” we might translate, to be as literal as possible). The word is meant to point to the miraculous possibility of crossing beyond the ordinary limits imposed by our humanity. This miracle - the wonder of trans-humanizing - is achieved by the human imagination when it is liberated by poetry. So Dante claims. This seminar aims to show the full arc of the Commedia by examining short selections from each of its canticles: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso.

Cost and Registration Information 

Newberry Teachers’ Consortium members may register for this seminar through their designated membership contact as space permits. Non-member educators may register for this seminar by purchasing an individual membership at the time of registration. Registration for all NTC seminars opens Wednesday, September 6, 2017. For more information about NTC membership, please contact Charlotte Ross, Teacher Programs Manager, at

The seminar will be followed by a catered lunch. Registrants should RSVP for lunch to assist Teacher Programs staff in reducing waste.

A link to the assigned pre-readings for this seminar will be distributed to participants via email.

If you believe you are registered for this seminar but have not received an email confirmation or reminder, please contact Teacher Programs staff.