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To Hell and Back: the Library Hosts Marathon Reading of Dante’s Inferno

This Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Villanova University community will gather for a marathon reading of Dante’s Inferno. Students, faculty, and staff are all invited to Falvey Memorial Library to read a Canto from this classic Italian text. As the first part of Dante’s epic Divine Comedy, Inferno provides an allegorical journey of Dante Alighieri himself, as a pilgrim, traveling through the nine circles of hell. The reading will begin at 10 a.m. in the library first floor lounge, and refreshments will be served throughout the day. Participants are welcome to read in either English or Italian, and costumes are encouraged.

Continuing the Villanova University community-marathon-reading tradition, this year’s event focuses on all things Italian. Sponsored by the Italian Club, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Villanova Center for Liberal Education (VCLE), the Office for Mission and Ministry, the Department of Humanities, the Classical Studies program and the Library, the marathon reading is the brainchild of Romance Languages Assistant Professor Diane Biunno, PhD, and Special Collections and Digital Library Coordinator Michael Foight.

The “l’avventura Dantesca” is sure to be divertente!

Asked what relevance a fourteenth-century work like the Divine Comedy has for 21st century readers, Foight pointed out the prolific use of Dante’s allegories and imagery in modern, adaptive works, and Dante’s stylistic device of casting himself in his own poem, a trope often seen in contemporary literature.

The event coincides with an online exhibit of Dante materials from Falvey Special Collections prepared by Dr. Biunno, billed as an “illustrated adventure” through the epic, with scans of etchings and prints by Dore, Botticelli and others. This fascinating exhibit is live now on the library’s website, and provides several unique visualizations of Dante’s masterpiece, including images from Inferno. Dr. Biunno served as a Digital Library intern this summer and is currently enrolled in Drexel University’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science program. She teaches Italian courses here at Villanova University. On Tuesday’s reading, her students will read a portion of the Cantos in Italian.

Other readers are encouraged to participate, and all members of the University community are invited to stop in and listen. If you’d like to practice your reading before the big event, check out the entire work online here.

As with many library events, first-year student participation earns ACS credits. Previous community readings of classical texts have included the Odyssey, the Iliad, and Augustine’s Confessions.

If you have any questions, please contact Diane Biunno.

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Last Modified: February 10, 2013