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“Personhood in Dante’s Divine Comedy”



Heather Webb and Robert Harrison


Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 3:30pm


Room 260-216 (Pigott Hall)



“Personhood in Dante’s Divine Comedy”

The discussion will center around Dr. Heather Webb’s 2016 book Dante’s Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman, which explores the concept of personhood as it appears in Dante's Commedia and seeks out the constituent ethical modes that the poem presents as necessary for attaining full personhood. The study suggests that Dante presents a vision of “transhuman” potentiality in which the human person is, after death, fully integrated into co-presence with other individuals in a network of relations based on mutual recognition and interpersonal attention. The Commedia, Heather Webb argues, aims to depict and to actively construct a transmortal community in which the plenitude of each individual's person is realized in and through recognition of the personhood of other individuals who constitute that community, whether living or dead.   
Dr. Heather Webb (PhD Stanford 2004) is Reader in Medieval Italian Literature and Culture at University of Cambridge.  She specializes in medieval Italian literature and culture with a particular interest in Dante studies, Catherine of Siena and other Dominican penitent women, Boccaccio, and early Italian lyric poetry.  Her work centers on medieval concepts of embodiment, intersubjectivity, and personhood. She is the author of The Medieval Heart (Yale, 2010) and Dante’s Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman (Oxford University Press, 2016).  With Dr. George Corbett, she is editor of Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy, 3 vols (Open Book Publishers 2015-2017).