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Douglas Biow, Director MEZ 3.126, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-3470

Guy P Raffa

Associate Professor Ph.D., Indiana University

Contact

  • Phone: 512-232-5492
  • Office: HRH 3.104A
  • Office Hours: W 11:15-12:15 and TH 12:30-1:30 and by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: B7600

Biography

Guy Raffa has taught at the University of Texas at Austin since 1991. He holds a B.S. in mathematics and computer science from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Italian Literature from Indiana University. His primary scholarly field is medieval Italian literature--Dante above all--with a secondary interest in modern Italian authors, particularly Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco. In addition to articles, book-essays, and reviews, he has published three books: Divine Dialectic: Dante's Incarnational Poetry (Toronto, 2000), Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the "Inferno" (Chicago, 2007), and The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the "Divine Comedy" (Chicago, 2009). He won a gold award for innovative instructional technology with his Danteworlds Web site and has received a number of other awards and fellowships, including a President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award and a Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Fellowship. For work-in-progress on Dante's graveyard history, he won a Humanities Research Award from the University of Texas and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been interviewed for articles in Investor's Business DailySlate, and The Atlantic, and has written for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

DanteWorlds    Inferno  Divine Dialectic 

 

 

Interests

Dante Studies, medieval Italian literature and culture, digital humanities, history and philosophy of science, Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco

EUS 347 • Dante

35735 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm BEN 1.106
(also listed as CTI 345, E 322, ITC 349 )
show description

Dante: Spring 2015

ITC 349, same as E 322, crosslisted with EUS 347 and CTI 345

TTH 2-3:30 in Ben 1.106

Professor Guy Raffa, Dept. of French and Italian

E-mail: guyr@utexas.edu; Home Page: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~guyr

The Divine Comedy offers a remarkable panorama of the late Middle Ages through one man's poetic vision of the afterlife. However, we continue to read and study the poem not only to learn about the thought and culture of medieval and early modern Europe but also because many of the issues confronting Dante and his age are no less important to individuals and societies today. Personal and civic responsibilities, governmental accountability, church-state relations, economics and social justice, Dante's influence on artists and other writers, benefits and limitations of interdisciplinarity—these are some of the themes that will frame our discussion of the Divine Comedy. Although you will read the poem in English, a bilingual edition will enable you to study and learn famous lines in the original Italian. The course is taught in English and contains flags for Writing and Global Cultures.

Danteworlds (http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/): In addition to detailed entries, audio recordings, and study questions, this Web site contains hundreds of images from works by Sandro Botticelli, an anonymous 16th-century artist, John Flaxman, William Blake, Gustave Dorè, and Suloni Robertson.

Through close reading, class discussion, and the use of Danteworlds, you are expected to identify and explain the significance of major characters, references, and ideas in Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise) and Vita Nuova. You will be tested on this ability in responses to study questions (a low-stakes writing assignment) and two in-class exams. An essay, which you will rewrite based on my feedback, will assess your ability to support an interpretation of a specific aspect of Dante's poetry with detailed textual analysis and scholarly research. A peer-editing activity will help you to revise and edit your own work. I expect you to have read the assigned cantos and reviewed the corresponding material in Danteworlds (including the study questions) before class.

Required Texts: (you must use the editions of these texts ordered for the class)

            Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso (Trans. Allen Mandelbaum)

            Vita Nuova (Trans. Barbara Reynolds)

Optional Text: The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the "Divine Comedy" (Raffa)

Assignments and Computation of Grade:

10%: 1500-word essay on the Inferno (credit for successful completion)

25%: Major rewrite of this essay incorporating scholarly research (graded)

5%:   Annotated bibliography of research sources (credit for successful completion)

5%:   Peer-review (credit for successful completion)

10%: Responses to study questions in Canvas Discussion Forum (credit for successful completion)

30%: Two in-class examinations  (graded: 15% each)

15%: Classwork and participation

Attendance Policy: Your attendance, which obviously influences your classwork and participation grade, is expected at all class meetings. You are expected to arrive on time to class and to stay for the entire lesson. Repeated late arrivals to—or early departures from—will count as absences. For every class that you miss (for whatever reason) after the fifth absence your final course grade (on a 100-point scale) will be reduced by 3 points up to a maximum of 15 points.

Late Work: Late work will lose a full letter grade for each day it is late except in the case of documented emergencies (e.g., serious illness, death in the family), religious holidays (see university policy below), or university-sponsored events (with prior notification).

Canvas: We will use the CANVAS learning management system to organize and provide course content on-line. When you log in to Canvas (http://canvas.utexas.edu/) and select the course, you will have access to the syllabus, assignments, lecture presentations (pdf), grades, and a discussion forum (for posting responses to study questions). You will be required to submit most assignments on-line using Canvas. For help with Canvas, consult the student tutorials (http://edutech.ctl.utexas.edu/students/) or contact support staff (https://utexas.instructure.com/courses/633028).

Writing Flag: This course carries the Writing Flag. Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing in an academic discipline. In this class, you can expect to write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from your instructor to help you improve your writing. You will also have the opportunity to revise one or more assignments, and you may be asked to read and discuss your peers’ work. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from your written work. Writing Flag classes meet the Core Communications objectives of Critical Thinking, Communication, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility, established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Global Cultures Flag: This course carries the Global Cultures flag. Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present.        

Grading and Plagiarism: All graded assignments will be marked on a 100 point scale and converted to letter grades consistent with university policy:

A (94-100) = 4.0, A- (90-93) = 3.67, B+ (88-89) = 3.3, B (84-87) = 3.0, B- (80-83) = 2.67, C+ (78-79) = 2.3, C (77) = 2.0, C- (70-73) = 1.67, D+ (68-69) = 1.3, D (64-67) = 1.0, D- (60-63) = 0.67, F (below 60) = 0.0

Plagiarism, intentional or not, will result in an automatic F on the assignment—the numerical grade (0-59) depending on the extent of the plagiarism and the quality of the non-plagiarized portion of the essay—as well as possible disciplinary action. For the definition of plagiarism and the University's policy on it, see: http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sjs/scholdis.php

Writing Center: For questions and feedback on writing, you are encouraged to meet with consultants at the Undergraduate Writing Center (FAC 211; for appointments and information, see http://uwc.utexas.edu/or call 471-6222).

All cell phones, tablets, laptops, and similar electronic devices must be turned off (or put in airport mode) and put away during class except if the instructor grants permission to use them for specific activities. Students who use devices in class without permission will be marked absent. 

EUS 347 • Dante

36645 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm MEZ 1.118
(also listed as CTI 345, E 322, ITC 349 )
show description

Dante: Fall 2014

ITC 349 (37360) and E 322 (35700), cross-listed with EUS 347 and CTI 345

TTH 11-12:15 in MEZ 1.118

Professor Guy Raffa, Dept. of French and Italian

Office Hours: TTH 1:30-2:30 and by appointment in HRH 3.104A; phone: 232-5492

E-mail: guyr@utexas.edu; Home Page: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~guyr

The Divine Comedy offers a remarkable panorama of the late Middle Ages through one man's poetic vision of the afterlife. However, we continue to read and study the poem not only to learn about the thought and culture of medieval and early modern Europe but also because many of the issues confronting Dante and his age are no less important to individuals and societies today. Personal and civic responsibilities, governmental accountability, church-state relations, economics and social justice, Dante's influence on artists and other writers, benefits and limitations of interdisciplinarity—these are some of the themes that will frame our discussion of the Divine Comedy. Although you will read the poem in English, a bilingual edition will enable you to study and learn famous lines in the original Italian. The course is taught in English and carries the writing flag and the global cultures flag.

Danteworlds (http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/): In addition to detailed entries, audio recordings, and study questions, this Web site contains hundreds of images from works by Sandro Botticelli, an anonymous 16th-century artist, John Flaxman, William Blake, Gustave Dorè, and Suloni Robertson.

Through close reading, class discussion, and the use of Danteworlds, you are expected to identify and explain the significance of major characters, references, and ideas in Dante's Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise) and Vita Nuova. You will be tested on this material in discussion postings (a low-stakes writing assignment) and two in-class exams. An essay, which you will revise and expand based on feedback, will assess your ability to engage scholarly research and support an interpretation of a specific aspect of Dante's poem with detailed textual analysis. A peer-editing activity will help you to revise and edit your own work. You are expected to have read the assigned cantos and reviewed the corresponding material in Danteworlds (including the study questions) before class meetings.

Required Texts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso (Trans. Allen Mandelbaum); Vita Nuova (Trans. Barbara Reynolds). Please note: you must use these translations.

Optional Text: The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the "Divine Comedy" (Raffa)

Assignments and Computation of Grade:

5%: Five times during the semester you will post an entry to a discussion forum on Canvas. Entries may include answers to study questions, but other responses to Dante's poem are welcome as well. Each submitted entry must contain at least 200 of your own words. Entries, worth 1 point each, will receive full credit for successful, on-time completion.

15%: 1000-word essay on the Inferno

25%: Significant revision and expansion of this essay (based on teacher feedback) that incorporates material from Purgatorio and / or Paradiso and scholarly research. 1500-2000 words. 

5% Peer-editing (full credit for successful, on-time completion)

30%: Two short-answer examinations (15% each)

20%: Classwork and participation. You are expected to read the assigned material before class meetings and to participate—through attentive listening and informed contributions—in class activities and discussion.

Attendance Policy: Your attendance, which obviously influences your classwork and participation grade, is required at all class meetings. You are expected to arrive on time and to stay for the entire lesson. Repeated late arrivals to—or early departures from—will count as absences. For every class that you miss (for whatever reason) after the fourth absence, your final course grade (on a 100-point scale) will be reduced by 3 points up to a maximum of 15 points.

Late Work: There are no make-up exams—and other graded assignments will lose a full letter grade for each day they are late—except in the case of documented emergencies (e.g., illness, death in the family), religious holidays, or university-sponsored events (with prior notification).

Canvas: We will use the CANVAS learning management system to organize and provide course content on-line. When you log in to Canvas (http://canvas.utexas.edu/) and select the course, you will have access to the syllabus, assignments, lecture presentations, grades, and a discussion forum. You will be required to submit most assignments on-line using Canvas. For help with Canvas, consult the student tutorials (http://edutech.ctl.utexas.edu/students/) or contact support staff (https://utexas.instructure.com/courses/633028).

Writing Flag: Writing Flag courses are designed to give students experience with writing in an academic discipline—in this case, literary criticism and humanities research. You will write regularly during the semester, complete substantial writing projects, and receive feedback from your instructor to help you improve your writing. You will have the opportunity to revise and expand an essay, and you will read and discuss your peers’ work. A substantial portion of your grade will therefore come from your written work. Writing Flag classes meet the Core Communications objectives of Critical Thinking, Communication, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility, established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Global Cultures Flag: Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States. You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of at least one non-U.S. cultural group, past or present—in this case Europe (Italy in particular) in the late Middle Ages as represented in Dante's Divine Comedy.

Grading: All assignments will be graded on a 100 point scale and converted to letter grades consistent with university policy:

A (94-100) = 4.0, A- (90-93) = 3.67, B+ (88-89) = 3.3, B (84-87) = 3.0, B- (80-83) = 2.67, C+ (78-79) = 2.3, C (74-77) = 2.0, C- (70-73) = 1.67, D+ (68-69) = 1.3, D (64-67) = 1.0, D- (60-63) = 0.67, F (below 60) = 0.0

Plagiarism, intentional or not, will result in an automatic F on the assignment as well as possible disciplinary action. For the definition of plagiarism and the University's policy on it, see: http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sjs/scholdis.php

Dante Web Sites

Danteworlds (the course Web site): http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu

Dante Today (Dante in contemporary culture): http://learn.bowdoin.edu/italian/dante

Dartmouth Dante Project (commentaries on the Commedia): http://dante.dartmouth.edu

World of Dante: http://www.worldofdante.org

Princeton Dante Project: http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/index.html

Digital Dante: http://dante.ilt.columbia.edu

 

EUS 347 • Dante

36040 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 203
(also listed as E 322, ITC 349 )
show description

Instructor: Raffa

EUS 347 • Intro Itl Lit: Mid Ages-18th C

36210 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm MEZ 2.122
(also listed as ITL 326K )
show description

ITL 326K (attached)

Digital Humanities

Danteworlds Website

Welcome to Danteworlds: A multimedia journey--combining textual commentary, artistic images, and audio recordings--through the three realms (Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise) of Dante's Divine Comedy. This site contains, in addition to an abridged version of the original commentary in The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the Divine Comedy and Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the Inferno, Italian recordings of selected verses and a vast gallery of images depicting characters and scenes from the Divine Comedy. Like the books, the Danteworlds Web site is structured around a geographic representation of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise--the three worlds of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Danteworlds is "an invaluable resource for specialists and novices alike," writes E. S. Hierl (Harvard University) in Choice Reviews Online, "the sort of multimedia experience that those in the digital humanities strive for" (August, 2010). The subject of an interview on the home page of the University of Texas at Austin, Danteworlds was selected for inclusion on EDSITEment in 2008 as "one of the best online resources for education in the humanities," and was featured in the literary blogs of the New Yorker (Jan. 8, 2009) and the Los Angeles Times (Jan. 14, 2009).

Books

The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the "Divine Comedy" (University of Chicago Press, 2009, second printing in 2011).

Seamlessly combining a major work of scholarship with extensive pedagogical features, this multi-purpose book is a valuable resource for researchers, teachers, students, and other ambitious readers of Dante's Divine Comedy. The poem's earliest commentators and Giovanni Boccaccio's public lectures on it in the fourteenth century inaugurated a tradition—interpreting and explicating the Comedy in piecemeal fashion (from individual verses to a single canto)—that has been carried on by Dante scholars down to the present. Based on original research and written in lively prose, The Complete Danteworlds contributes to this tradition with a new scholarly commentary that covers the entire Divine Comedy. It does so, moreover, in a highly innovative way: unique among Dante commentaries, the entries in this book are conceived and arranged according to the geography of Dante's afterlife: rather than line by line notes, the over 240 entries in The Complete Danteworlds follow the path traveled by Dante and his guides as they descend through the circles of Hell, climb the terraces of Mount Purgatory, and traverse the spheres of Paradise. This geographical organization, truer to Dante's visual imagination than a purely textual ordering, has born fruitful scholarly results by providing new information and critical insights on topics that received only partial or scattered treatment in earlier commentaries.  Published by a top-tier university press and widely reviewed in academic journals, The Complete Danteworlds combines the best qualities of a monograph and a textbook by embodying the productive reciprocity of original research and innovative pedagogy.

In his superbly written and always engaging presentation of the three realms of the afterlife Guy Raffa displays the rare ability to see, as it were, both the forest and the trees, capturing the grand outlines and shape of Dante’s poem as well as identifying and providing incisive commentary on its myriad components—people, places, events, themes. Not only will first-time readers of the Comedy appreciate Raffa’s meticulous overview, but seasoned scholars will also profit from his many critical insights. Danteworlds will have a major impact on the ways we read, teach, and study the Comedy. - Christopher Kleinhenz (Carol Mason Kirk Professor Emeritus of Italian, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

The commentary and structure of the guide constitute a very impressive work of scholarship in that it admirably fulfills its goal of presenting Dante’s poem in all of its complexity without reductionism. - Peter Bondanella (Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, Film Studies, and Italian, Indiana University)

Dante Studies are in safe hands when such energy and creativity is brought to bear on the Comedy. . . . This book deserves a wide audience, both inside and outside the academy. - Notes and Queries

Under the author’s skillful guidance, the world of Dante’s creative output is lucidly explored and engagingly presented. - Forum Italicum


 Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the Inferno (University of Chicago Press, 2007)

This is the first guide to Dante's Inferno to take readers on a geographic journey through the poet's underworld—not canto by canto but circle by circle, similar to how Dante and Virgil proceed in their infernal descent. The heart of Danteworlds is an original commentary arranged according to the physical layout of Dante's Hell. Each chapter (or "region") of the book, from the "Dark Wood" down to the ninth circle of Hell, begins with a summary of the action and contains detailed entries followed by significant verses and useful study questions. The entries, based on a close examination of the poet's sources (biblical, classical, and medieval) in addition to the most up-to-date scholarship, treat the characters and creatures encountered by Dante on his journey as well as a vast array of references to religion, philosophy, history, politics, and literature. For news of people and events from Dante's time and place, Danteworlds provides information and entertaining anecdotes drawn from the poem's earliest commentators. The book's critical methodology is grounded in the conviction that there is no substitute for revisiting and analyzing the primary sources (in the original languages) from the ancient world to the late Middle Ages that fired Dante's imagination and for examining closely how he fashioned this material into a literary masterpiece.

Guy Raffa provides lucid, concise information on all the major persons, deities, and creatures encountered in the course of his journey. - Deborah Parker (Professor of Italian, University of Virginia)

Throughout, Raffa finds ways to provide context and clues that encourage the reader to return to Dante's poem for a fresh look. The book, therefore, is not only useful for first-time readers, but also for those who regularly teach the Comedy to such readers. - The Medieval Review

 . . . it does a remarkable job of conveying a great deal of information as well as a lively sense of the richness, interest, and relevance of the Inferno. - Speculum


Divine Dialectic: Dante's Incarnational Poetry (University of Toronto Press, 2000)

Divine Dialectic: Dante’s Incarnational Poetry offers a fresh reading of Dante’s major literary works—the Vita nuova and the Divine Comedy—by combining central tenets of incarnational theology and dialectical thought. Recognizing Dante as a poet who paradoxically embraces both opposition and reciprocity, this book shows how Dante challenges such conventional dichotomies as human desire and divine love, artistic fame and spiritual humility, sacrifice and triumph, and political action and philosophical contemplation. Divine Dialectic ultimately argues that Dante crosses textual and theological boundaries to promote the paradoxical union of contradiction and resolution as a way of reading his poem and, by extension, the world itself.

This book is commendable for being daring and Dantean in the truest sense of the word. - Renaissance Quarterly

Lucid, erudite, and thought provoking, this is an important contribution to Dante studies that will be obligatory reading for advanced students and scholars of the Commedia. - Choice

This is a book, though, not just for Dante Scholars. Anyone interested in medieval Christianity will find it informative and enriching. - Christianity and Literature

This impressive book, Guy Raffa's first, shows from the outset a genuinely remarkable degree of scope and ambition. . . . This is an important contribution to the field that will compel its readers to reconsider some of their most cherished preconceptions about the workings of Dante's mind and poetry. . . . He leaves his readers permanently indebted to him, both for a compelling general interpretation of Dante's major works and for countless illuminating observations of textual detail that enlarge our readerly understanding. - Symposium

The reviewer read every page of this book with keen interest and found it to be one of the most satisfying works of criticism on Dante that he knows. . . . It achieves a remarkable level of readability and grace, comprehensiveness and control, telescoping whole fields of scholarship in ways that focus their exact pertinence for specific points in Dante's text. It deserves to become a widely read and highly esteemed work of American Dante criticism. - Letteratura Italiana Antica

 

Articles and Essays

"What the Head of Hiring at Google Doesn't Understand About Skills." The Chronicle of Higher Education. "The Conversation." May 28, 2014. Reprinted in The Chronicle Review. June 20, 2014: B2.

"Calvino's Scientific Humanism," in Approaches to Teaching the Works of Italo Calvino, ed. Franco Ricci. New York: MLA, 2013. 37-41.

"A Beautiful Friendship: Dante and Vergil in the Commedia." MLN 127.1 (Supplement) (2012): 72-80.

"Eco's Scientific Imagination," in New Essays on Umberto Eco, ed. Peter Bondanella. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 34-49.

"'Io amo New York': Calvino's Creatively Chaotic City," in Science and Literature in Italian Culture from Dante to Calvino, ed. Pierpaolo Antonello and Simon A. Gilson. Oxford: Legenda, 2004. 276-91.

"Dante's Poetics of Exile," Annali d'italianistica 20 (2002): 73-87.

"Usury," "Greeks," and "Five Hundred Ten and Five." The Dante Encyclopedia. New York and London: Garland, 2000.

"Carlo Levi's Sacred Art of Medicine," Annali d'Italianistica 15 (1997): 203-20.

"Dante's Mocking Pastoral Muse," Dante Studies 114 (1996): 271-91.

"Eco and Calvino Reading Dante," Italica 73.3 (1996): 388-409.

"Dante's Beloved Yet Damned Virgil," in Dante's "Inferno": The Indiana Critical Edition, ed. Mark Musa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. 266-85.

"Enigmatic 56's: Cicero's Scipio and Dante's Cacciaguida," Dante Studies 110 (1992): 121-34.

"Love's Duplicity in the Vita Nuova," Italian Culture 10 (1992): 15-26.

"From Two's to Three's in Inferno II," Lectura Dantis 10 (1992): 91-108.

"La bestialità ne Il Decameron e due strutture contrapposte," The Rackham Journal of the Arts and Humanities (1991-92): 35-42.

Invited Lectures (Selected)

"Dantemania: Looking Back Today for a Better Tomorrow." University Lecture Series, Bass Concert Hall, University of Texas at Austin, September 29, 2014. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKCoLNCmBPw)  

"Dante's Immortal Remains: From Florentine Martyr to Global Icon," Annual Dante Lecture, Center for Renaissance Studies, Newberry Library, Chicago, November 15, 2013.

"Dante and the Popular Imagination: A Historical Perspective," Annual Meeting of the Dante Society of America, MLA, Los Angeles, January 8, 2011.

"Romancing the Tomb: Dante's Bones and Italian History," Annual Dante Lecture, Yale University, October 20, 2010.

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