Event—Public Programming

Deborah Parker, "JFK's Dante"


John F. Kennedy was a voracious reader and he put his reading to work in his speeches. His favorite quote was from Dante: "The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis preserve their neutrality." This lecture traces Kennedy's deployment of this quote in different political contexts, explores the afterlife of the quote, and examines his reading habits more broadly. Kennedy employed famous authors like Dante in a campaign of persuasion. His use of Dante shows just what a felicitous conjunction this can be when wielded by a politician thoroughly aware of the tradition of American oratory and unafraid of eloquence.

A wine reception will follow the lecture.

Learn more about the speaker: Deborah Parker, University of Virginia

The Center for Renaissance Studies Dante Lectures have been held annually 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.

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.

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