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CfP: Dante and Shakespeare: Cosmology, Politics, and Poetics

Monday, April 16, 2018   (0 Comments)

International Conference: "Dante and Shakespeare: Cosmology, Politics and Poetics"

Date and venue: 4–6 April 2019, University of Poitiers / Centre d’Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale (UMR 7302) – France

Co-organisation: Isabelle Battesti (CERLIM, Sorbonne Nouvelle) et Pascale Drouet (CESCM, Poitiers)

Conference argument: Dante is probably to Italian literature what Shakespeare is to British literature. Both are, because of the depth and density of their respective works, monuments of European literature who transcend national boundaries. As T.S. Eliot put it in 1929: "Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third." This claim may be questioned, of course, but both authors did bring literature and the spirit of their time to a peak.

It may be wondered whether Dante’s writings influenced Shakespeare and his contemporaries. However, this conference particularly aims at bringing together, beyond chronological considerations, the reflection and the aesthetics at work in their respective creations, by comparing them from thematic perspectives. Their writings are still powerful today, including in the collective imagination, probably because everything, or nearly so, was treated in them: a theory of the cosmos and knowledge; a representation of social organization and power; a poetics and a narrative art.

This conference thus invites a comparative approach of both writers’ works according to three main lines: cosmology (a meditation on the divine and on the natural order); politics (a reflection upon human society and political constitution); and poetics (a reflection upon the art of writing) Suggestions:

  • Dante, Shakespeare and cosmology
  • Representing the universe (meditating on the place of man; questioning the Great Chain of Being)
  • Representing the invisible
  • Man and the stars
  • Writing and transcendence (quest, belief, recreation)
  • Metaphysical stakes versus atheistic temptations
  • Cosmic order and Political order
  • Dante and Shakespeare: moral typologies and political stakes
  • Political models and reality, political figures, crises and continuity, political power and the Wheel of Fortune
  • Fraud, hypocrisy, crime, villainy
  • Representing human acts, toward what end? (to entertain, to teach?)
  • The psychopathology of passions (hatred, love, terror, melancholy)
  • The truth/illusion dialectic in Dante’s, Shakespeare’s and Elizabethan and Jacobean writers’ works
  • Status and modality of invention (Aristotle’s influence?)
  • Here and now versus hereafter, the use of the supernatural (fictional process and process of authentication)
  • The treatment of History and the use of mythology
  • Reality and appearances (theatrical illusion, poetic lies)
  • Metaphorical invention
  • The veil/unveil dialectic (allusiveness, polysemy, riddling)
  • Dante as both a poet and poetician (Rime, Vita Nova, De Vulgari Eloquentia) and Shakespeare as a poet, as well as Donne, Spenser, Sydney, Wroth...
  • The circulation of Italian poetry in England; translations; material traces
  • Theories and practices of poetry (Dante and the Stilnovo; Petrarchan mediation in early modern England; Dante and early modern poets)
  • The sonnet as a poetic form
  • The aesthetics of conceits (Dante and Donne)
  • A Dante/Shakespeare "function" in contemporary imagination?
  • Romantic reception (Coleridge’s notion of “gloomy imagination”)
  • Quotations, imitations, transpositions, translations (T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Auerbach)
  • Powerful models (to represent dystopias, the ravings of desire, the imaginary sphere of disaster)

Abstracts and a brief biographical notice are to be sent by 30 June 2018 to both Isabelle Battesti – & Pascale Drouet –

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