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What is Vernacular? How Dante invented Italian



What is Vernacular? How Dante invented Italian

A lecture by Professor Albert Russell Ascoli, UC Berkeley

Professor Ascoli will read and comment on verses from the Divina Commedia and the Convivio. The lecture will be followed by a Q & A session, and is a companion to the Humanities West Program, “Dawn of the Renaissance”, October 23, 24. When Dante wrote the Divine Comedy, he certainly knew that he was writing the most ambitious work of literature in the Western tradition, and, what’s more, that he was writing it in the despised “vulgar tongue,” the miscellaneous language of the late medieval hoi polloi. What’s more he had already written an unprecedented treatise, On Eloquence in the Vernacular, theorizing the superiority of the vernacular, i.e. the spoken language(s) of the people who inhabited Italy, to Latin, the language of the great classical authors and of the omnipresent Catholic Church. In this talk Prof. Ascoli will discuss how Dante deliberately set out to create a new form of the vernacular that would become the literary, political, and spiritual language of an as yet non-existent country, now known as Italy.This event is part of International Italian Language Week 2015, under the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic. Albert Russell Ascoli, Terrill Distinguished Professor, teaches in the Department of Italian Studies, UCB. His principal field of research and teaching is Medieval and Early Modern Italian culture from the 13th to the 16th centuries. His interests include the relations between literary form and history; the author-reader relationship; the construction of Italian national identity; literary politics of gender. He is currently serving as President of the Dante Society of America. His current research project is a study of the problem of faith as promise and belief in the early modern period. Please click here to register for this event.


Date: Thursday, October 29, 2015

Entrance : Free