Dante in America IV

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Location: Special Collections

In connection with the 2021 Dante centenary, the Devers Program in Dante Studies and the Center for Italian Studies are organizing a year-long lecture series, which will be held on the Notre Dame campus throughout the 2021 calendar year. The aim of the series is to assess the ways in which Dante has impacted the literary and popular culture of the United States. The series is divided into six sessions. Each session will consist of two speakers who will speak for 30-45 minutes each. The series will address topics including translation, iconography, library collections, the Civil War era, African-American literary culture, American religious culture, American poetry and narrative, and Italian-American culture.

In this session, Henry Weinfield, Emeritus Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies at Notre Dame, will give a lecture on Dante and American poetry and Stephen A. Fredman, Emeritus Professor of English at Notre Dame, will speak on Dante and Robert Duncan.

The Fall lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format. Please register here.

Henry Weinfield, "Dante and T. S. Eliot: Desire and Form"

In “What Dante Means to Me,” a lecture he delivered in 1950, Eliot noted that “after forty years,” he still regarded Dante’s poetry “as the most persistent and deepest influence upon [his] own verse.” Indeed, Dante's influence on Eliot's poetry makes itself felt at every phase of Eliot's career, from "The Love-Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" to the end. This lecturez will demonstrate, however, that Eliot's vision is very different from and in some respects even antithetical to Dante's. It focuses on how the two poets treat the question of desire and, in addition, on Eliot's "imitations" of Dante's terza rima in a passage from "Little Gidding" and in a late, not very well known poem, "To Walter de la Mare."

Henry Weinfield is a professor emeritus in the Program in Liberal Studies at Notre Dame. He is a poet, translator, and literary scholar. His books include The Poet without a Name: Gray's Elegy and the Problem of History (Southern Illinois, 1991), The Music of Thought in the Poetry of George Oppen and William Bronk (Iowa, 2009), and The Blank-Verse Tradition from Milton to Stevens: Freethinking and the Crisis of Modernity (Cambridge, 2012).

Stephen A. Fredman, "Between Dante and Whitman: Robert Duncan's 'Dante Études'"

Stephen Fredman is a professor emeritus of English at Notre Dame. He has written and edited numerous books on American poetry and poetics. His books include Poet’s Prose: The Crisis in American Verse (Cambridge, 1983; 1990); The Grounding of American Poetry: Charles Olson and the Emersonian Tradition (Cambridge, 1993); and A Menorah for Athena: Charles Reznikoff and the Jewish Dilemmas of Objectivist Poetry (Chicago, 2001), and Contextual Practice: Assemblage and the Erotic in Postwar Poetry and Art (Stanford, 2010).