University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
UOM Main Page
Campus Map button


TITLE Dante’s Divine Comedy

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION This Unit intends to introduce students to the mystifying medieval world of Dante Alighieri. The Unit will delve into the context, the themes, the styles, the meanings and the allegories from a selection of cantos from the Divine Comedy. The lectures shall be carried out in English but the students with knowledge of Italian will also be given the opportunity to read a selection of cantos in the original text with their lecturer. Students with no knowledge of Italian will be using the authoritative new verse translation (with facing-page Italian text) by internationally famed scholar and master teacher Robert Hollander and his wife, poet Jean Hollander. The text is available online on the Princeton Dante Project (

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:

• Identify the historical and literary contexts involved in the composition of Dante’s Divine Comedy;
• Acquire a basic knowledge of the main characters, topics and themes tackled by Dante in the Divine Comedy;
• Familiarise themselves with the aesthetic and poetic style of Dante’s Commedia;
• Appraise the influence which Dante has exercised on the World’s literary canon;
• Familiarize themselves with the immense learning resources available on Prof. Robert Hollander’s learning portal, Princeton Dante Project 2.0.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:

• Analyse and interpret a text of Dante’s DC, using an eclectic approach, i.e. a variety of readings: structuralist/formalist, historicist, thematic and linguistic approaches;
• Describe and appraise the role of Dante in the Italian literary canon as well as in the formation of Italian as an established national language;
• Provide a written analysis in English on a selected text from Dante’s DC (supplied in the original format with a translation);
• Master the reading skills necessary to read, understand and interpret the verses of Dante’s DC;
• Master the necessary skills to analyse the meter and the rhetorical devices of Dante’s poetry in the Commedia.

Main Text/s:

• Alighieri Dante, Inferno, translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander, Doubleday/Anchor, 2000.
(Available online on
• Alighieri Dante, Purgatorio, translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander, Doubleday/Anchor, 2003.
(Available online on
• Alighieri Dante, Paradiso, translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander, Doubleday/Anchor, 2007.
(Available online on

Supplementary readings:

• Aa.vv., Enciclopedia Dantesca, voll. 1-5, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia italiana, Roma 1976.
• Borsellino Nino, Ritratto di Dante, Laterza, Bari, 1998.
• Morgan Alison, Dante and the medieval other world, series Cambridge studies in medieval literature, Cambridge U.P., 1990.
• Larner John, Italy in the age of Dante and Petrarch, 1216-1380, Longman, 1980.
• Mauro Walter, Invito alla lettura di Dante Alighieri, Mursia, 1990.
• Padoan Giorgio, Introduzione a Dante, Sansoni Editore, Milano, 1995.
• Petrocchi Giorgio, Vita di Dante, Laterza, Bari, 1986.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Karl Chircop
Jeannine Debattista

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
PLAS Applications are now being received
Click here to apply for PLAS Units commencing in February 2018
PLAS Testimonial Videos

Click here to view PLAS Testimonial Videos.

Apply now for PLAS Units on offer. 

PLAS Gift Voucher Facility
A mindful gift - short courses for relatives, friends & colleagues.
Parking Permit for PLAS Students
PLAS students can apply for a parking permit through the KSU website. Click here for more info.
Statute, Regulations Guidelines
Click here for Centre's Statute, Programme's Regulations, and Liberal Studies Awards Guidelines
PLAS Nature Photography Exhibition
Click here for more information on the PLAS Nature Photography Exhibition
LAS2100 Research Project
For more information click here
PLAS Introductory Meeting Presentations

Click here to access the presentations delivered during the PLAS Introductory Meeting.

The Programme in the Liberal Arts and Sciences
The University of Malta’s new flagship Programme in the Liberal Arts and Sciences ...

Log In back to UoM Homepage