Italian Research Seminar: "Fortune, Limits and New Directions of Dante's New Lives" by Elisa Brilli (Toronto)


Location: Rare Books and Special Collections 102 Hesburgh Library

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

The Center for Italian Studies is pleased to host a lecture by Professor Elisa Brilli (University of Toronto), entitled:

A Biographical Bet: Fortune, Limits and New Directions of Dante's New Lives

Vite nuove. Biografia e autobiografia di Dante (Fayard & Carocci, 2021) aimed less to chronicle the life of Dante Alighieri than to raise essential, still unanswered questions about it. How did a self-taught Florentine with no professional status become the celebrated author of the Divine Comedy? How did Dante make himself the main protagonist in his works, in a literary context that advised against it, and how did his powerful self-fashioning affect his real life? Why has his life interested so many readers? Moreover, how much do Dante's authoritative life narratives still influence today's scholarship? Brilli and Milani reappraised Dante's life and self-portraits to answer these questions, assessing archival and literary evidence in dialogue with the most recent scholarship. In doing so, this book offered a model of new interdisciplinary biography, as fascinating as it is rigorous.  

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One year after the publication, and while waiting for the publication of the English translation (Reaktion Books, 2023), Brilli reconsiders this enterprise to disclose its background and discuss its fortune, limits, and future directions.

Elisa Brilli is Professor of Italian Literature and Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on Dante Studies, the interactions between history and literature, medieval exemplary literature, historiography and research methodologies. She is the author of Firenze e il Profeta, the chief editor of the Alphabetum Narrationum by Arnold of Liège, the co-editor of four volumes, and the author of several articles in academic journals and in books. She is Associate Member and Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto (2015-), the Laboratoire d’études sur les Monothéismes, EPHE-CNRS-Paris IV (2012-), the Kunsthistorisches Institut, MPG in Florence (2010-), AHLoMA, EHESS (2007-), and Fellow of Victoria University in the University of Toronto (2017-2022). She works on the Editorial Board of Dante Studies (2015-), the Bibliographic Committee of the Dante Society of America (2018-), the Advisory Boards of Quaderni d’Italianistica (2020-2023), Studi Danteschi (2019-), and the Rivista internazionale di ricerche dantesche (2018-).

The event is co-sponsored by the Medieval Institute.