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Unit information: Dante's Inferno in 2018/19

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Unit name Dante's Inferno
Unit code ITAL20024
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Kay
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Italian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit aims to acquaint students with the first canticle of arguably the greatest work of Italian literature and the medieval environment that produced it. The analysis of specific episodes in the Inferno will show how this canticle is an expression of Dante's thoughts on crime and punishment, his interpretation of the poets of antiquity, his understanding of the Christian moral code and his thoughts on the politics of his time. The unit will also introduce students to Dante's use of the Italian language and his mastery of poetics.


  • To introduce students to a significant body of knowledge of a complexity appropriate to second year level. The content matter will normally include one or more of the following: literature; social, cultural or political history; linguistics; cultural studies; film, television or other media.
  • To facilitate students’ engagement with a body of literature, including secondary literature, texts, including in non-print media, primary sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and development. Normally many or most of these sources will be in a language other than English and will enhance the development of their linguistic skills.
  • To develop further skills of synthesis, analysis and independent research, building on the skills acquired in units at level C.
  • Some options may prepare students for the experience of the Year Abroad.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful students will:

  • be knowledgeable about a significant cultural, historical or linguistic subject related to the language they are studying;
  • be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material;
  • be able to evaluate and analyse relevant material from a significant body of source materials, usually in a foreign language, at a high level;
  • be able to respond to questions or problems by presenting their independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an high level of complexity;
  • be able to transfer these skills to other working environments, including study at a foreign university and on work placements during the year abroad.

Teaching details

Normally one lecture hour and one seminar hour per week across one teaching block (22 contact hours), often with student presentations. In units with a smaller number of students the lecture hour may be replaced by a second seminar or a workshop. Units involving film may require students to view films outside the timetabled contact hours.

Assessment Details

Essay 75%, short essay 25%

Reading and References


Italian editions:

La Divina Commedia, commentary by U. Bosco G. Reggio. Firenze: LeMonnier, 1993. Commedia, commentary by A. M. Chiavacci Leonardi. Milano: Mondadori, 1991-97.

Translations and commentary in English

The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, translated with a commentary by D. Sinclair. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

The Divine Comedy, translated by Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Bantam, 1982.

The Divine Comedy, translated with a commentary by Charles Singleton. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970-75.