Three Sacred Heart University faculty and one student presented a discussion at a recent conference on teaching Dante’s Divine Comedy at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. The conference, “Teaching the Christian Intellectual Tradition,” was sponsored by the Lilly Foundation and focused on teaching this great literary work in an interdisciplinary course in a core curriculum.
June-Ann Greeley, associate professor of theology; Nathan Lewis, associate professor of art; and Joe Nagy, instructor of Catholic studies, formed a panel entitled, “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Teaching and Studying Dante’s ‘Divine’ Commedia.” Their participation in the conference came about after they received the first Dean’s Interdisciplinary Teaching Grant, awarded by Dean Robin Cautin of the College of Arts and Sciences. The grant led to their interdisciplinary honors seminar on the Divine Comedy last spring. “Without Dean Cautin’s generous assistance, we would not have been able to teach the course,” said Nagy.
Sacred Heart junior Tyler Lascola, an English major who was a student in the Dante honors seminar, joined the three faculty members at the conference. They had been so impressed by one of Lascola’s papers, “The Tender Turn: Ambivalence toward Brunetto Latini and Homosexuality in Inferno XV,” that they invited him to present it in the panel. He was the only undergraduate participant at the conference.
The conference’s keynote speaker, Albert Ascoli, distinguished professor of Italian studies at the University of California at Berkeley, attended the SHU presentation and afterwards praised Lascola’s paper, encouraging him to go on to graduate studies on Dante.
“That a Dante scholar of Ascoli’s stature–he is president of the Dante Society of America–singled out one of our students for praise was fantastic,” said Nagy.
For Lascola, “The entire conference was enthralling. There were so many illuminating presentations, and I was honored to have been a part of one of them.”
“The conference was a marvelous occasion of celebrating one of the greatest poets of the Catholic intellectual tradition and of engaging in inspiring, creative conversations with like-minded colleagues—Danteans all!—from across the U.S.,” Greeley said.
The conference was particularly relevant for Sacred Heart, since the Divine Comedy is a core text in Sacred Heart’s year-long foundational course, “The Human Journey: Great Books in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”