Dr Federica Coluzzi
School of Languages, Literatures and Culture
Dante Beyond Influence: Rethinking Reception in Nineteenth Century Literary Culture
The scholarly (and popular) discussion on the ubiquitous presence of Dante in the literary culture of Britain and Ireland generally revolves around the reincarnations of the Commedia in later poetry, prose and theatre. Within this discourse, the notion of reception is reduced to a synonym of literary influence. Tackling a critical vacuum, my project overcomes this creative-centric perspective to produce the first comprehensive study of the dynamics of Dante’s critical and scholarly reception in nineteenth-century British and Irish literary culture.
Expounding the phenomenon in its greater, unexplored complexity, the project will shed light on new agents of reception: from celebrated poets and men of letters (Samuel Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, and John Ruskin) to lesser-known men and women translators, interpreters, scholars and illustrators of Dante. Through the use of archival materials, the project will historicise the formation of the critical interest in the late Romantic period (1810s-1830s), and document its development into a wide-ranging Dante-debate carried out in the pages of British, Irish and Italian literary periodicals. Moving into the Victorian period (1830s-1910s) the project will examine the growth of the critical interest into a systematic scholarly endeavour, and discuss how this hermeneutic turn redefined the forms of production, the channels of dissemination and the wider, popular accessibility of Dantean knowledge in Britain and Ireland. These changes determined the emergence of new trends in Dante-related publications (translations, commentaries, companions, thematic studies and biographies) targeting an enlarged and socio-culturally diverse English-speaking public. Concurrently, they contributed to the academic institutionalisation of Dante scholarship in the British Isles through the establishment of learned societies and academic courses on Dante, which relied on continuous exchanges with Italy through networks of scholars, journals and societies on a local, national and international level.
Federica Coluzzi is IRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Italian Studies at UCC. She is interested interested in reception studies, Dante Studies, women’s writing and nineteenth-century history of reading and publishing. Prior to arriving to UCC, she was awarded an Early Career Research Fellowship at the John Rylands Research Institute to examine the nineteenth-century holdings of its world-class Dante Collection. In 2018, she completed her PhD in English Studies at the University of Manchester, where she taught courses on Medieval and Modern English Literature and coordinated DH projects as Mnemosyne Fellow in Digital Humanities. Follow her on Twitter: @FedeColuzzi