Journey through Dante’s Inferno and beyond with local scholar of Italian literature
A local specialist in medieval Italian poetry will offer insights into one of the greatest works of European literature through a six-week introductory course beginning in February.
Katie Bastiman, who first studied Italian at Jersey College for Girls, will guide students through an exploration of Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy’, examining the text itself as well as the long-lasting cultural impact that it has had.
Katie developed her passion for Italian literature whilst undertaking a degree in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, which she supplemented with a postgraduate degree at the same university. She graduated with first class honours in her bachelor’s degree and a distinction in her master’s degree, during which she focused on Dante and his contemporaries.
The Divine Comedy, or ‘La Divina Commedia’, is a narrative poem in which the poet places himself as the main character who must voyage through the three realms of the afterlife – Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise – and speak to the souls of the dead who reside there. It was written by Dante Alighieri in the early 1300s during his exile from his native city of Florence and is widely regarded as one of the most important works in the Italian language. The text provides a rich image of the world in which Dante lived, including an insight into the social and political concerns of the time, all presented through a sophisticated and elegant poetic form.
Commenting on the upcoming course, Katie said: “The Divine Comedy is an extremely beautiful and culturally significant work of Italian literature, and I am very excited to be sharing my love of this poem through this course. I encourage anyone with an interest in poetry, Italian culture, history, or translation, to join us as we look together at why this poem was so important at the time when it was written, and why it continues to engage and fascinate readers 700 years later.
“Dante’s great poem deals with a number of universal themes which are highly relevant to our lives today, including morality, religion, politics, and love. It incorporates and evokes a wide range of emotions, and there is much to be gained from engaging with it.”
Katie’s previous work on Dante has included the creation of a specialist website for the study of manuscripts and the translation of a book entitled ‘Dante’s Ravenna: A path between art, history, and literature in the city of Ravenna’, which she translated into English while working at the Dante museum within the Centro Dantesco dei Frati Minori Conventuali in Ravenna. She was also a guest speaker in the Centre for Dante Studies in Ireland’s ‘Dante Futures’ series on the topic of Dante and social media and in 2020 she organised an interdisciplinary public lecture on the topic of music in Dante’s works. The lecture included choral performances of hymns and psalms cited by Dante in the Comedy, which were sung by Somerville Choir, in which Katie was a choral scholar.
The course costs £70 and will be taught in English, with reference to a number of different translations of the original text. Classes will take place at the Philip Mourant Centre in Trinity from 18.30-20.30 on Wednesday evenings from 22nd February until 29th March.
For more information about the course, please contact Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.