Aug. 25, 2016 – Lecture: “Sandro Botticelli on Facing in Dante’s Paradiso”

The Italian Research Seminar

Heather Webb (Cambridge) – “Sandro Botticelli on Facing in Dante’s Paradiso

Thursday, August 25 at 5:00pm in Special Collections, Hesburgh Library

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame, the Office of Research, and the Devers Program in Dante Studies

This talk presents new research in its early stages on some elements of Botticelli’s ‘visual commentary’ on Dante’sParadiso. Departing from David Ford’s notion that facing is transformed before the face of Christ, I examine some moments of the transformation of facing in Dante’s work and the ways in which Botticelli sought to comment, visualize, or ‘remediate’ those transformations of facing in his illustrations of Paradiso. With particular attention to Botticelli’s surprising depiction of Paradiso 20 and what I read as ‘Veronicas’ in the illustrations of the examination cantos, I argue that Botticelli, like Dante, seeks to find new ways to involve the reader or viewer in the encounters that constitute his Paradiso.

Heather Webb received her PhD from Stanford in 2004. She taught at The Ohio State University from 2004 to 2011. She has been at the University of Cambridge since 2011 and is currently a University Lecturer in Italian and a Fellow of Selwyn College. Her work centres on medieval concepts of embodiment, intersubjectivity, and personhood. She is the author of The Medieval Heart (Yale, 2010) and Dante’s Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman (Oxford University Press, 2016). With Dr George Corbett, she is editor of Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy, 3 vols (Open Book Publishers, 2015-2017). She is currently working on projects focusing on invitations to the reader in the Comedy, visual renderings of gesture in Dante’s poem, and 21st-century reception of Dante’s Limbo.

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