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Art, Cinema, History & Politics, Literature

Pasolini After Dante

The "Divine Mimesis" and the Politics of Representation

March 8, 2019
6:00 pm

A lecture by
Emanuela Patti, Royal Holloway, University of London

In the early 1960s, Pier Paolo Pasolini started his rewriting of Dante’s Divine Comedy, La Divina Mimesis. The aim of the project was to make it a new contemporary Comedia, including circles, sins, and characters inspired by Dante. Yet the project was never completed as originally planned. In Fall 1975, Pasolini decided to publish the notes he had written over a decade as a ‘document’. The final text was published by Einaudi in November, a few days after Pasolini’s death. What has been considered for decades as a minor and ultimately failed work in Pasolini’s career is probably the most significant retrospective testimony the author left us on his concept of realism and his authorial subject. La Divina Mimesis is in fact the outward sign of a sustained dialogue with Dante on representation, whose roots reach down into the early 1950s. In that period, Dante’s influence took the form of a certain ‘Dantean realism’ in his prose and poetry, after the reading of Dante’s objective language, experimentalism, and plurilingualism by the Italian philologist and literary critic Gianfranco Contini (1912–90). In the early 1960s, it took the form of a certain ‘figural realism’ in his cinema, after the German philologist and comparative scholar Erich Auerbach (1892–1957) and his concepts of Dante’s ‘figura’ and ‘mingling of styles’.

In this talk, Emanuela Patti will explore some examples of Pasolini’s appropriation of Dante’s realism and how they relate to postwar Italian debates on the questione della lingua (the language question, i.e. what is our national language?), impegno and ‘otherness’ (Gramsci), experimentalism, and intermediality.

Emanuela Patti (Dott. Lett. Urbino, MA UCL, PhD University of Birmingham) is Senior Research Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London for the project Interdisciplinary Italy 1900-2020: interart/intermedia.  Before joining this project, she was Senior Lecturer of Media Theory at the Media School of the University of Bournemouth (2014-2015), Senior Lecturer of Italian at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London (2013-2014) and Visiting Professor at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, UOC, Barcelona in 2011. Her research interests range across a variety of areas, including modern and contemporary Italian culture, cultural representations of Dante, comparative literature, digital cultures. She has published on 20th and 21st Century culture, with a particular focus on Pasolini and Dante, postwar debates on realism, experimental literature and digital humanities. She is author of Pasolini After Dante: the ‘Divine Mimesis’ and the Politics of Representation (Legenda, 2016), as well as the co-edited book Transmedia: Storia, memoria e narrazioni attraverso i media (Mimesis, 2014) and the edited book La nuova gioventù? L’eredità intellettuale di Pier Paolo Pasolini (Joker, 2009). In 2016 she has edited two special issues on experimental narratives from the avant-gardes to the digital age: Experimental Narratives: From the Novel to Digital Storytelling, a special issue of the Journal of Comparative Critical Studies, 13.3 and Reading Practices in Experimental Narratives: A Comparative Perspective from Print to Digital Fiction in Modern Languages, a special issue of the Journal of Romance Studies, 16.1. 


Organized by Prof. Alison Cornish, “Dante and…” is a series of lectures that focus on Dante’s relevance in today’s world. These lectures feature scholars and experts from many different fields of interest, invited to present their unique readings of the poet’s works.

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