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I need a suggestion for a topic to write about for a research paper on any subject with...

sarlevy's profile pic

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I need a suggestion for a topic to write about for a research paper on any subject with which Dante writes about in his book Dante's Inferno.

The topic can be about anything that places a focus on the following:

What do you find so intriguing about this particular reading assignment? Why?

What do you think makes this work distinctively American? Why?

What do you think of the style or form of the assigned reading? Why?

Do any characters or incidents capture your interest? Why?

Does a specific line or image from the assignment stimulate your thoughts? Why?

What do you think is the larger significance of this particular reading assignment?

How do you think this particular reading assignment fits into its period of time?

How do you think this particular reading assignment is relevant today?

Did this reading remind you of any other texts that you have read? Explain.

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timbrady's profile pic

Posted (Answer #1)

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I'm not sure what level of research you have to do with the Inferno, or how much of it was assigned for reading, but you might want to try this.  All of the punishements in the Inferno are geared toward the "sin" of the person being punished.  For instance, Dante believes that the treasonous acts of Judas, Brutus and Cassius make them the worst sinners in hell, and they, therefore, have the closest connection with Satan.  Do you think this is an appropriate punishment for them?  It's been a long time since Dante's publication ... would you replace any/all of these three with other historical figures who might have committed greater atrocities since then?  This paper becomes something of a research activity (you need to find out what these men have done) as well as a bit of "creative" historical research (determing who might replace the present characters in the lowest level of hell).

I have no idea what your instructor may have in mind, so this may be a little more creative than intended, but I think it would be interesting and a vehicle for learning about Dante's intentions projected into a future he could never have envisioned.  But check with your instructor first.


wordprof's profile pic

Posted (Answer #2)

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I was interested in your mention of relevance to America.

It’s interesting that you ask about how it is relevant to America today.  Of course it is universally relevant, and there was no America when he wrote it, but setting that aside, modern western civilization, especially America (North and South), seems to have ignored the dictum "Judge not lest ye be judged" and has made a pastime of publicly rebuking figures for their "sins."  There is a whole industry of tut-tutting as persons on television.  Dante's chastisements, however literary and insightful, were a little unkind.  Where would he find himself--Purgatory?  And since we're on the subject of The Divine Comedy, you might want to continue your reading into Purgatorio and Paradiso, to see why it is called a comedy.  Belaqua, in Purgatorio, is particularly "American" in his procrastination.

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