CHASS Connect: 2009-2010 Sequences

(Fulfills Philosophy, Fine Arts, and Literature)

These three courses will explore the cultural shifts in conceptions of the afterlife. Through philosophy, art history, and literature, you will analyze the sociopolitical aspects behind the shift from Hades to Dante's Inferno.

Fall 2009
Professor Glidden
From Hades to Paradise

In Virgil's epic, The Aeneid, he took Aeneas on a journey to Hades to witness the fate awaiting all mortals—including heroes—in the shadowlands of the Underworld. In Augustine's City of God, he took his readers away from the hell on earth of Rome's demise as the Eternal City, to a far better, peaceful place: The City of God. We will look at both journeys, discuss the ancient sense of fate, and explore our all too human yearning for a comfortable immorality.

Winter 2010
Professor Kohl
Paintings, Religion, and Civic Culture in the Age of Dante

Italian art flourished in a remarkable way during the Era of Dante. It is a period characterized by large painted cycles in public buildings and churches mirroring the political ideologies, literary ideals, and religious beliefs. We will examine the role these paintings played within the civic culture and religious life of the late 13th and 14th centuries. Apart from giving an insight into the “politics of images” of the time, we will also look into the themes, formal innovations, and iconography of medieval Italy.

Spring 2010
Professor Waller
Dante's Inferno and Paradigm Change

Composed on the brink of a cultural shift, the Divine Comedy charts a new course by first looking back, in a new way, to the rich body of Latin literature that preceded it; also outward toward the astonishing art of medieval Italy; and lastly ahead toward the era of European exploration and conquest, economic expansionism, as well as the emergence of new languages and identities. As we try to create change in our own age, Dante's poem comes alive as a vivid example of how the seemingly separate aspects of our passions, aesthetics, histories, political contexts, and spiritual yearnings are inter-related.