Title: The Divine Comedy in English

Writing-intensive course | 3 Credits

Prerequisite or corequisite ENG 120 – counts toward MAJOR in Italian Language and Civilization (group A)

Learning Outcomes

  • The students will familiarize with Dante’s Divine Comedy 1) as a poetic and encyclopedic text that borrows and adapts from ancient texts and from contemporary culture 2) and as a text that, its turn, has influenced our imagination over the centuries.
  • While learning about the major characters, scenes and literary strategies of the Divine Comedy, the students will engage in discussions, research, writing and peer reviewing.
  • Students will learn to describe a visual artifact in relation to Dante’s text.
  • Students will practice and deepen their skills in academic writing and increase their digital literacy by engaging in writing posts and online annotations, becoming familiar with proper netiquette in an online academic setting and aware of academic integrity. See also: Netiquette in an Online Academic Setting

Required Text

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Volume 1: Inferno. Edited and translated by Robert Durling (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). You must use this edition of the Inferno, which is also available as e-book through Hunter Library. The selections from the Purgatorio and Paradiso are also available through Hunter Library. 

Recommended Text

Dante Alighieri, Inferno. Translated by Mary Jo Bang (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2012). This is a contemporary translation/adaptation by poet Mary Jo Band with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, a readable version of the most famous part of the Comedy.



Regular class attendance and participation. This course relies heavily on class participation and writing workshops. Absences, lateness, and disengagement will affect your results negatively. I expect you to have read the assigned canti carefully and be prepared to discuss your answers to the reading questions.

Professional behavior and respect for others. Please engage with your instructor and with your classmates in a respectful and constructive manner. Listen while others are talking and always be polite when you are speaking.

Timely completion of assignments. Your absences don’t justify your missed assignments.

Revision. You will be required to revise some of your work. Your grade will often be a combination of a draft and a final version. If you don’t submit one or the other, your grade will be lowered.

Basic courtesy. Cellphone and laptops will only be used for class work. Please refrain from eating. Drinks are ok.


What you can expect:

Feedback. I will give you detailed feedback on your writing using Word Track Changes or hypothes.is. We will hold a brief in-class workshop on track changes prior to the first graded assignment.

Contacting me is easy. I usually reply within 24 hours. Please contact me at sp1122@hunter.cuny.edu.

Office Hours. I will be available to talk after class, but please email me to make an appointment for office hours.


Participation (10%): You are allowed one unexcused absence. An excess number of absences will have an impact on your final grade. Be aware that you are responsible for any work that you miss and that missing class is no excuse for turning in an assignment late.

Blogging (40%): This is a writing-intensive course. There are several short written assignments (posts) over the course of the semester (see due dates on schedule of readings). Instructions are posted on our website under Assignments/Blogging. One of your post (post 8) will deal with the activity Discovering Dante at the MET.

Midterm (10%): Our in-class midterm, with questions on the content of the Divine Comedy and short essay questions, is scheduled on March 20.

Final Exam (15%): Our two-hour final exam, with questions on the content of the Divine Comedy and essay questions, is scheduled on March 22, 9-11am. Please note that the final exam starts earlier than our regular class time.

Final Paper (25%): You will write a final paper (5-7 pages) on an artistic response to the Divine Comedy. Instructions will be posted on the website of the course and discussed in class. During the last class, you will give a brief presentation on your topic.


Hunter College Policies on Academic Integrity and Students with Disabilities             

Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.     

In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical and/ or Learning) consult the Office of AccessABILITY located in Room E1214A to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistance please call (212- 772- 4857) or (212- 650- 3230).