Rose Color Significance

I found it interesting in Paradiso how Dante uses a white rose to symbolize the highest “level” of Paradise where the most blessed reside. It struck me at first as an odd comparison because, at least in my experiences, white roses tend to be “funeral roses” associated with death and loss. After making this connection, I decided to do some quick research on exactly why white rose appear at funerals. Continue reading “Rose Color Significance”

“Subverting” and Repurposing Dante

A question I have had early on in our class is why Toni Morrison chose Dante’s trilogy to frame and play with in at least three of her novels. I read Dante in HUM I like everyone else. I thought the text was fascinating and rich, and I can see the value of studying it, and I have a great respect for the scholarship surrounding it. Yet, the moral, and perhaps anachronistic, implications of the poem are troubling for me. What struck me most, in the negative way, was how Dante put his father figure/teacher/mentor Brunetto Latini in a relatively deep level of hell for being a “sodomite.  Continue reading ““Subverting” and Repurposing Dante”

The Muses and Finding Wisdom

In Dante’s Divine Comedy, specifically Paradiso, the reader joins the Pilgrim on a tour of heaven. At the beginning of this reading period in our class, Dr. McCoy alerted us to keep an eye out for the Muses. This is something that I have been attentive to, as a result, and after doing a bit of research and further reading, I noticed that Dante creates a balance and mixture of different faith traditions in his Commedia. We can see allusions to the Greek tradition (including Homer and, especially, Virgil), Judaism, and Christianity. As Mark Musa notes in his paratext to Canto XX, the six souls that compose the eye of the eagle the Pilgrim sees are two Jews, two pagans, and two Christians (243). This means that in Dante’s Paradiso, those of varying faiths are present and not condemned to the Inferno. This is a rather accepting stance in comparison with other historical literature. What kind of implications, then, are there for having this religious diversity in what seems to be a Christian Hell and Heaven? Continue reading “The Muses and Finding Wisdom”

The Yonic and the Phallic

Thanks to the texts I’m reading this semester—specifically Pynchon and Yeats—I’ve had to pay more attention to phallic imagery than ever before. I started to pick up on some of this imagery in Toni Morrison’s Jazz, but I also noticed another kind of imagery, one that I didn’t immediately have a word for. I began to wonder what the female equivalent was of “phallic.” I expressed this curiosity to Brianne and she beat me to the Google-search-bar, sending me a few different links to websites discussing this exact topic. It seems that the choices we’re given are either the word “yonic” or “yoni” which originates in Sanskrit, or the currently more common word “vulvic.” Continue reading “The Yonic and the Phallic”

Meter in Paradiso – Emphasis on the _____?

Hi all!

We have been talking a lot about how Dante is constantly romanticizing Beatrice, constantly proclaiming his love for her.  A great example of this occurs pages 213-214 when Dante says:

“Those loving words made me turn round to face/ my Solace.  What love within her holy eyes/ I just saw then–too much to be retold.”

Dante calls Beatrice his “solace” defined by as: “something that gives comfort, consolation, or relief.”  Therefore, Beatrice allows Dante to feel calm.  While looking up this definition, I notices that the stress for the word “solace” is at the beginning of the word: sol-is. Continue reading “Meter in Paradiso – Emphasis on the _____?”


Today in class Dr. McCoy brought up the town Nicodemus. This really sparked my curiosity, what did it have to do with Paradiso, with Paradise?

Nicodemus is a region of land that is not governed by its own local government but rather by larger administrative divisions. It was founded in 1877 and was named after Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a name of two people a biblical figure and an African slave prince.  Nicodemus, the biblical figure, after the crucifixion brought the customary spices to prepare Jesus’s body. Nicodemus also had a discussion with Jesus about being born again. Because of this conversation with Jesus he was a model of rebirth to African Americans after the civil war. Nicodemus was also the name of a legendary figure who came to america on a slave ship and then later was able to purchase his freedom.

Nicodemus Kansas was settled by free slaves after the civil war. Most of the slaves that came were from Kentucky, and their goal was to establish the first all black settlement of the great plains. The town thrived in the beginning but then rough winters that killed crops led them to decline in their population. Today the population of Nicodemus Kansas is only 52 people, which was surveyed in 2000. Clearly a small town, but it is very cool to see that the first ever town created by freed slaves still exists.


Humanities for the Hood

Since the first day of class when I found out that Toni Morrison claims to write for Black people, I have been dissecting her works in search of any indications as to why. I wondered if Morrison’s claim to write for Black people was a way of turning her work into forbidden fruit for non-Black people, especially White people, enticing them to read it. I also pondered on the possibility that Morrison makes Black people her target audience to eliminate the notion that reading is a White thing, and to get them to read.

On my quest, I have landed on another theory. Continue reading “Humanities for the Hood”

Interdisciplinary Connections on the Limits of Language

** preface – this is about the inability of language to accurately capture and convey ideas, which really comes through in the writing of this post, so please bear with me**

As I sat in my political science class discussing postpositivist international relations (IR) theory, I was struck by the similarities to the conversation that we had on Wednesday about the inability of language to capture concepts/beliefs/ideologies. Continue reading “Interdisciplinary Connections on the Limits of Language”

Touching on the Importance of Numbers in Dant3’s Divin3 Com3dy.

I’m going off of a lesson on Inferno when I took Hum I back in the summer of 2014, but I feel this is an interesting aspect worth sharing.

Dante is big on numbers throughout The Divine Comedy, especially with the number 3 and the “Perfect Number” (100). Almost everything is in sets of 3. The Divine Comedy is split into 3 books (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso), each consisting of 33 cantos (With the exception of Inferno, which has 34, but I’ll get to that in a moment), with each canto made up of lines in sets of 3. That’s 99 cantos overall, and with the aforementioned introductory canto of Inferno, which, as it’s only an intro and doesn’t technically count as a part of the whole, existing almost outside of the work, the count is brought to 100.

One of the most surprising aspects of this, however, is the syllable count. Every line of Inferno was 11 syllables (That’s 33 syllables for every set of three lines now) and the translation (At least the Mark Musa one I had at the time) was respectful of this. That being said, the trend seems to be less prevalent in Paradiso, and I’m having some trouble finding reliable (Not on Wikipedia) information to develop this further. If anyone knows anything else about this, feel free to chime in. I found it fascinating, and I haven’t really had a chance to study it since the last two years.

In any case, it highlights Dante’s meticulousness when it comes to language, which we mentioned in class. I’m also curious if we’ll see anything similar in Morrison’s Paradise–specifically with numbers, as the attention she pays to words is startlingly apparent throughout her work.