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21st Annual Week of Italian Language in the World

Join Humanities West in person at The Commonwealth Club, or via livestream, to celebrate the 700th Anniversary of Dante’s death with a two-hour, three-lecture Dante feast:

Timothy Hampton on "Dante After Dante: the Forms of Memory." Though there were many "in the know" about the achievement of Dante's great poem during his lifetime, his vast influence on Italian poetry and world literature was uneven in the centuries following his death. In some areas of artistic creation—for example, in the painting of Botticelli—Dante was powerfully present. In other areas (poetry, philosophy, literary criticism) his influence was definite, but diffuse and oblique. This lecture will speak about the ways in which Dante's work did and didn't shape Italian and European culture in the early modern period.

Kip Cranna on "Dante at the Opera: From The Divine Comedy to a Comic Puccini Delight." In "The Inferno," part one of The Divine Comedy, Dante introduces the condemned sinner Gianni Schicchi, consigned to the Eighth Circle of Hell along with others guilty of fraud. His crime: impersonating the deceased Buoso Donati to falsify Buoso's will for his own benefit. Dante personally knew the Donatis (he was married to one), and therein lies an intriguing tale of medieval Florentine society. The story of this fraudulent will and the legend surrounding it became the inspiration for the famed composer Giacomo Puccini's only comic opera. After outlining the Dante-Puccini connection, San Francisco Opera's Dramaturg Emeritus Kip Cranna will present brief video highlights from the opera Gianni Schicchi, including the ever-popular aria "O mio babbino caro."

Marisa Galvez on "Dante Before Dante Become Dante." In retrospect it almost seems like Dante invented Italian literary culture, but he arrived on the Italian literary scene as a love poet—an admirer of courtly love and the troubadour traditions which had begun a century earlier in Occitania, and had spread to Italy, Spain and then most of Europe. Dante defined the troubadour lyrics as rhetorical, musical and poetical fiction — which is also a good description of The Divine Comedy.

The presentation will take place at the Commonwealth Club, with in-person, socially-distanced seating for about 150 fully vaccinated people (to conform to San Francisco’s rules). A live stream the program will also be available, giving an opportunity for everyone to join us from home instead.

Visit The Commonwealth Club for all the details and to purchase tickets (use promo code 2021HW to get the member discount price).

WHEN: October 22, 2021, 5-7 PM
WHERE: The Commonwhealth Club, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco
Attendees: Please bring proof of vaccination

Event organized by Humanities West, with the patronage of the Italian Cultural Insitute of San Francisco




kip cranna Kip Cranna

Dramaturg Emeritus, San Francisco Opera

marisa galvezMarisa Galvez

Professor of French and Italian, and by Courtesy, of German Studies and Comparative Literature; Faculty Director, Structured Liberal Education, Stanford University

 timothy hamptonTimothy Hampton

Aldo Scaglione and Marie M. Burns Distinguished Professor of French and Comparative Literature; Director, Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, University of California, Berkeley

 sm george hammondGeorge Hammond



settimana lingua orizzontale

The 21st Annual Week of Italian Language in the World is organized
Under the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic 


Date: Friday, October 22, 2021

Time: From 5:00 pm To 7:00 pm

Organized by : Humanities West

Entrance : Free


The Commonwhealth Club and online