Dante’s Memory: From Fixity to Fluidity
June 17, 2022 at 18:00
We’re proud to announce we collaborated with the Department of Italian of the Faculty of Arts and the Institute of Anglo-Italian Studies of the University of Malta for this public talk to be delivered in English by Dr Eleonora Buonocore (University of Calgary).
Memory played a key role in the Middle Ages: it was ubiquitous in medieval education, from rhetoric to philosophy and even theology. Dante’s Divine Comedy is a masterpiece of medieval culture, yet, before Dr Buonocore’s research, there was no comprehensive study of Dante’s concept of memory.
Dr Buonocore argues that memory is one of the underlying structuring principles of the Comedy itself. Dante begins with a rhetorical memory trap, rooted in the fixity of the art of memory, that is a punishment in Inferno. In Purgatorio memory becomes a force for good, linked to prayer, which reduces penance. In Eden, at the rivers Lethe and Eunoè, signifying oblivion and good memory, there is a paradigm shift: from memory to forgetfulness. This oblivious memory fluid and altruistic, informed by theology, is the only memory left in Paradiso.
Dr Buonocore is currently completing a book showing the Divine Comedy‘s importance within the studies of memory in the European Middle Ages.