Journey to Italy – Viaggio in Italia: Announcing the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway Rome Book Club

Author: Costanza Montanari

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Domenico di Michelino - Dante and the Three Kingdoms, 1465

The Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway, in partnership with the Center for Italian Studies and the Notre Dame Alumni Association, is pleased to announce the launch of the Rome Book Club. The 2021 series is titled Journey to Italy – Viaggio in Italia and will take the audience on a virtual voyage to Italy through literature, arts, and current issues. Notre Dame faculty will guide participants through each series with special contributions from lecturers from partner institutions in Rome. 

Starting January 13, 2021, the first program will last four weeks and will focus on renowned Italian writer, Dante Alighieri, and his Inferno. “A hell of a city: Dante’s Inferno on the road to Rome.” The program will be led by Theodore J. Cachey Jr., professor of Italian and Albert J. and Helen M. Ravarino family director of the Center for Italian Studies, and co-led by David Lummus, visiting assistant professor of Italian Studies and co-director of the Center for Italian Studies, along with Chiara Sbordoni, adjunct professor in Italian at the Rome Global Gateway.

This series is a guide to iconic moments in the Inferno, the first part of the Divine Comedy, which recounts the poet’s pilgrimage through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise on a quest for salvation in the year 1300. In the four meetings of this book club, the following cantos will be read: Inferno 1-2, Inferno 5, Inferno 13, and Inferno 18 and 27.

Dante's journey from the dark wood and through Hell to Purgatory and Heaven is a powerful metaphor for our own condition at this extremely challenging time,” says Lummus. “As the poet sets out to remap his world and his values and to find his own path to salvation, which he offers as a model to human kind, so we, modern readers of his poem, are offered a chance to reflect on our world and its challenges.”

“To read the Comedy is to tap into the intellectual, spiritual, and ultimately, poetic resources that great literature always offers to interpret the most critical issues of our world as individuals and as citizens of our global community, to reassess our values and personal and communal responsibilities and, with hope, undertake our own quest for truth,” adds Cachey. “The Center for Italian Studies is delighted to collaborate once again with colleagues at the Rome Global Gateway to launch the Rome Book Club in 2021, in commemoration of the seven hundredth anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).”

Alongside the readings from the Divine Comedy, “A hell of a city” will include commentaries, videos from Cachey, Lummus, and Sbordoni, and weekly interactive Zoom sessions. The program is free and open to all, and is hosted exclusively on ThinkND, Notre Dame’s open, online learning community brought to you by the Alumni Association. 

The journey to Italy and its cities has long captured the imagination of Western travelers, as well as travelers from all over the world.

“Italy and the city of Rome with its nearly 3,000 year history have been privileged destinations of religious pilgrimage ‘to the thresholds of the Apostles’ Peter and Paul and the tombs and sanctuaries of countless martyrs and saints from the Middle Ages to the present day,” says Sbordoni. “In more recent times, it has also become a destination for tourists and students, but also for migrants, from all over the world.”

In addition to offering the opportunity to learn from and interact with Notre Dame’s expert faculty, the program allows participants to engage more deeply with Italy’s culture through the Rome Global Gateway and offers unique insight into the University’s presence abroad. 

“The link between Rome and Notre Dame goes back in history and at the same time is constantly re-defined. We hope this book club will make it accessible and appealing to many friends across the ND community,” says Silvia Dall’Olio, executive director of the Rome Global Gateway.

As part of the virtual journey to Italy, the Rome Global Gateway will be hosting a second series on sacred music led by Notre Dame Folk Choir director J.J. Wright in March.

“There are few cities that combine beauty, history, and culture like Rome,” says Dolly Duffy, executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. “Whether the Notre Dame family has already read The Inferno or this is their first experience, Dante’s writing and the lessons we can draw from it stand the test of time. We are excited to partner with the Rome Global Gateway on this book club and expand our educational offerings to our alumni, parents, and friends.”

Partners of the “Journey to Italy – Viaggio in Italia” series include the Center for Italian Studies, the College of Arts and Letters, Notre Dame International, and the Notre Dame Alumni Association

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Originally published by Costanza Montanari at rome.nd.edu on December 14, 2020.