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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


  • 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


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 




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

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:; Home Page:

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( or contact support staff (

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:

Dante Web Sites

Danteworlds (the course Web site):

Dante Today (Dante in contemporary culture):

Dartmouth Dante Project (commentaries on the Commedia):

World of Dante:

Princeton Dante Project:

Digital Dante:


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 Web Site

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).


"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.

The Complete Danteworlds: A Reader's Guide to the "Divine Comedy." Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

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

"'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.

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

"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.

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