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Elizabeth Coggeshall



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Italian language and literature
early modern

Elizabeth Coggeshall

Lecturer, Thinking Matters and Education as Self-Fashioning

2011-2012 Lieberman Fellow

Beth Coggeshall received her Ph.D. in Italian (2012) focusing on late medieval poetry, especially Dante.   She wrote her dissertation on friendship in Dante's life and works.  She was the Gerald J. Lieberman Fellow in the Humanities for the 2011-2012 academic year, and is currently teaching in Stanford's freshman programs, Thinking Matters and Education as Self-Fashioning.

From 2008-2010 Beth was the resident director (Graduate Theme Affiliate) of the Casa Italiana, the Italian-themed undergraduate residence on Stanford's campus. In 2008-2009 she served as one of the graduate co-coordinators of the interdisciplinary Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS) workshop, sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center.  

DISSERTATION: Dante's Friends

Advisor: Robert Harrison.  Readers: Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Carolyn Springer, Heather Webb (Ohio State)

Thesis description:  Although Dante never clearly articulates a theory of friendship, friendship is one of the crucial elements for his conceptualization of community.  Through a careful study of Dante’s biographical and fictionalized relationships with the poets of his social sphere, we find that the concept of “friend” and the place of that concept within the greater social bedrock is foundational to his projects.  The exact nature of both the concept and its place, however, shifts as his program shifts: the friend serves a different role in the foundation of the tradition of the volgare illustrethan he does in the search for redemption on Mount Purgatory.  This dissertation traces these shifts, reading Dante’s latent thoughts on friendship through his “real-life” relationships.


“‘Eternal Hate Created Me As Well’: In Search of Hate in Dante’s Comedy.”  In Dante’s Volume from Alpha to Omega: Inscriptions on the Poet’s Universe.  Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  Forthcoming 2013.

Per lo ’nferno tuo nome si spande: Politics in the Infernal City.”  In Critical Insights: The Inferno, by Dante.  Pasadena, CA : Salem Press.  2012.

“Dante, Islam, and Edward Said.” Telos 139 (Summer 2007), 133-151.

“Keeping to the Straight Path of the Faith: Intertextuality, Religious Myth and Claims to Truth in Dante and the Mi‘raj.La Fusta : Journal of Italian Literature and Culture 14 (Fall 2006), 29-41.


"Collaboration vs. Genius: Dante's Friends."  Bibliotech Conference, Stanford University, May 10, 2012.

"Patrons as Friends: Dante and Can Grande."  NeMLA Convention, Rochester, NY, March 15-18, 2012.

“Friendships Revisited: Dante and the Donati.”  MLA Convention, Seattle, Washington, January 5-8, 2012.

“Hate in the Universe of Love.”  Dante’s Volume From Alpha to Omega: A Graduate Symposium on the Poet’s Universe.  Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, March 26-28, 2010.

“Dante’s Lack of Imagination: Ineffability and the End of the Poem.”  AAIS Annual Conference, New York, New York, May 7-10, 2009.

“Memory, Fantasy and the Failure of Poetry in Paradiso XXXIII.”  Considering the Radiance: Dante’s Journey to Paradise. Stanford University, February 1, 2008.

“Competing Visions and Constructed Truths in theLibro della Scala and the Divine Comedy.”   AAIS Annual Conference, Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 3-6, 2007.

“Waking from Life: Sacred Truth in Dante’s Visionary Journey.”  Carolina Conference on Romance Literatures.  University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, March 29-31, 2007.

“Mythic and Religious Contexts and Countertexts to Dante’s Otherworldly Journey.”  Mythamorphoses: Collective Myth and Italian Literature.  Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, October 21-22, 2005.

“Islam and the True Diritta Via: The Poetics of Anxiety in Dante’s Commedia.”  What are Freedoms?  Francophone, French and Italian Discourses on Liberty, Otherness, and Exoticism.  Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, April 1-2, 2004. 


ITALGEN 153: Dante and the Modern Imagination.  (Spring 2012)  Literature seminar on Dante's Divine Comedy and its afterlife.  Taught in English with optional discussion section in Italian.

ITALLIT 127: Inventing Italian Literature: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio.  (Fall 2009)  Advanced undergraduate literature survey on the Italian canon, from origins to early modern period.  Taught in Italian.

ITALLANG 126: Italy and Italians Today.  Five different quarter-long courses on the following topics: Love in Italian Cinema; Italianità in America; Facciamo due chiacchiere: Un posto al sole; Performance all’italiana: Poetry and Music; The Regions of Italy.  (5 quarters, Fall 2008-Spring 2010)  Taught in either English or Italian.

ITALLANG 125: Dante. (Winter 2010)  Literature seminar on selections from Dante's Inferno.  Taught in English.

ITALLANG 1, 2, 3, 5B, 21A: Italian Language sequence.  (5 quarters, Fall 2007-Summer 2010)  First and second year Italian language courses, including accelerated sequence.  Use of textbooks Parliamo italiano and Ponti.  Focus on oral and written proficiency.  Taught in Italian.