About this course
Students will question for themselves the meaning of human freedom, responsibility and identity by reading and responding to Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. The Comedy, which is richly steeped in the medieval culture of the 14th century, still speaks vividly to modern readers struggling with the question, “who am I?” Dante, as a Florentine, a poet, a lover, and religious believer, struggled with the same question in each facet of his life before coming to a moment of vision that wholly transformed him as a person.
As a 21st century reader, you will encounter the poem in a novel online environment that integrates knowledge from the disciplines of literature, history, psychology, philosophy, and theology with modern technology. You will be guided through the poem by means of the "MyDante" Project, an online environment developed by Professor Ambrosio in collaboration with the Georgetown University Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), which will aid your own contemplative engagement with the poem. Alone and with the edX community, you will reflect on both Dante's interpretation of freedom and how it functions in the formation of personal identity, and the problem of finding appropriate metaphors to discuss these issues in our modern life.
You, the modern reader, will only understand the full implications of Dante's poetry if you participate with it in a way that is personal and is genuinely contemplative. You will discover that contemplative reading goes beyond the literal meaning, and even beyond the traditional allegorical and interpreted meaning, to apply every possible meaning contained in the text to your own life and identity. Through the MyDante platform, you will learn to know yourself in your own historical, personal, and spiritual contexts as you journey towards your understanding of your personal freedom and identity.
What you'll learn
- Students will become familiar with the theory and practice of “Contemplative Reading” that constitutes one of the principal structural dynamics of Liberal Arts education.
- Students will be able to apply the general practice of “Contemplative Reading” to Dante’s Divine Comedy.
- Students will demonstrate in-depth and relatively advanced familiarity with and knowledge of an epic poem of the highest cultural significance; in specific, Dante’s Divine Comedy.
- Students will begin to articulate for themselves their own personal convictions in response to reflection questions about human dignity, freedom and responsibility with which the Divine Comedy inevitably confronts its readers.
- Students will engage with the most fundamental goal of Liberal education, promoting the universal dignity of personhood.
- Students will become acquainted with the specific contributions the Christian, Catholic and Jesuit tradition of Georgetown University bring to the promotion of human dignity.
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