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DANTE 700 | Biography and Self-telling in Dante



DANTE 700 | Biography and Self-telling in Dante

dante700 1 

Wednesday, April 21 | 4:00PM EDT


Biography and Self-telling in Dante

Elisa Brilli
Associate Professor
Department of Italian Studies | Centre for Medieval Studies
University of Toronto

ZOOM Webinar | Free Event | Registration Required


Writing a biography of Dante is a challenge many have faced. While the archives are mostly silent, his work contains many personal passages that can be easily mistaken for an autobiography. Traditional approaches evaluate these various fragments, exclude those considered less reliable, combine the remaining in a “likely” series of events. The book "Vite nuove. Biografia e autobiografia di Dante", co-written by Elisa Brilli and Giuliano Milani, attempts a different approach.

In this talk, Prof. Elisa Brilli will illustrate such endeavour, its specificities, some of their main findings, and explore the question not of how to use Dante’s statements to reconstruct his life but of how much biographical research on Dante and, more in general, our vision of literary authors, owes to his self-telling.

Organized by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto in collaboration with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Chicago, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, & Washington D.C.


Elisa Brilli (Ph.D., La Sapienza-EHESS, 2009) is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at the Department of Italian Studies and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. She previously worked at the EHESS in Paris, The Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence, the Université du Québec à Montréal, the Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes, and the University of Zurich. Brilli is a specialist in Dante studies and the late medieval reception of Augustine, with a strong interest in the interactions between cultural history and literature, medieval exemplary literature, and historiography.

Her monograph Firenze e il Profeta (Carocci, 2012) provides the first comprehensive analysis of the depiction of Florence in Dante’s works from three perspectives: Dante’s dialogue with civic memory, his reshaping of theological paradigms, and his autobiographical implications. From this last line of inquiry originates Brilli’s latest book, co-written with the historian Giuliano Milani, Dante. Des vies nouvelles (Fayard, 2021) and Vite nuove. Biografia e autobiografia di Dante (Carocci, 2021), which develops an interdisciplinary inquiry of both Dante’s life and self-telling.

Brilli is also is the chief editor of the critical edition of the Alphabetum Narrationum by Arnold of Liège, a 14th-century collection of 800 exemplary tales (Brepols, 2015), and the co-editor of the following collective volumes and journal issues: Faire l’Anthropologie Historique du Moyen Âge (with P.O. Dittmar and B. Dufal, Atelier du Centre des Recherches Historiques, 2010), Images and Words in Exile. Avignon and Italy during the first half of the 14th century (with L. Fenelli and G. Wolf, SISMEL, 2015), Agostino, Agostiniani e Agostinismi nel Trecento Italiano (with J. Bartuschat and D. Carron, Longo, 2018), the “Forum: Dante and Biography” (Dante Studies, 136, 2018) and The Dominicans and the Making of Florentine Cultural Identity (FUP, 2020).

Finally, Brilli is the main convener of the “International Seminar on Critical Approaches to Dante,” (2015-2020) at the University of Toronto, together with J. Steinberg and W. Robins, and she serves on the editorial board of the journal Dante studies.

Additional info and papers: 




Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Time: At 3:26 pm

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura

In collaboration with : Istituti Italiani di Cultura - USA & Canada

Entrance : Free


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