Advanced Studies in Global Literature: Dante and the Spiritual Journey

This program is not offered this academic year. See this year's interims.

Basic information

  • Location: Italy
  • Dates: May 2-23, 2022
  • Prerequisite courses:
  • Cost: $5164 + airfare (exact)

Take Dante as your guide on your very own pilgrimage as you think about foundational literary, theological, and spiritual practices.

Critics have long compared Dante’s Commedia as akin to a medieval cathedral: a grand architecture that ultimately points us to the plan of God’s overwhelming love for us. More recently, at least one critic has noted that the Commedia can also be usefully thought of as an encyclopedia, full of Dante’s synthesis of classical and medieval learning. It is in that spirit that this course proceeds: to take an in-depth study of the Commedia as an opportunity to read and understand the rich theological conversation that is going on both within the text and without. After all, the Commedia was begun only decades after Francis and Dominic’s reforms had transformed medieval Europe. As a 300-level course, this class “build[s] on the introductory knowledge” of Foundations I by asking students to apply their knowledge in a focused way to both the literary conception of the pathway of salvation (and all the ways that “story” continues to be an important spiritual metaphor) as well as to deep reading into the primary theological sources on which Dante is drawing. The course asks students to consider these theological texts independently (e.g. what is Aquinas saying about sanctification) as well as asking students to think about how Dante is interpreting these texts with the Commedia (e.g. why is the Purgatorio’s sense of sanctification based in liturgical practices?). All of this reading and interacting with many of the most foundational primary theological texts cannot help but “equip students with foundational Christian knowledge” and also help them “deepen” their understanding. Now 700 years later, Dante’s Divine Comedy remains a central text for thinking through the Christian journey from sin through sanctification to salvation. Dante, himself deeply influenced by Franciscan spirituality, was also deeply formed as a Florentine; taken together, the Franciscan and Florentine influences of the Divine Comedy come to life when studied in Florence itself (as well as in Assisi, home of St. Francis). At the same time, the idea of pilgrimage is not unique to Dante, but a rich part of medieval Christian practice. In this course, we'll take Dante as our guide on our very own pilgrimage as we think about the literary, theological, and spiritual practices that will strengthen us on the way. Dante’s journey won’t be our own, but the hope is that by accompanying him on this Christian epic—and delving into the great library he presents us—students will begin to think about how they will negotiate their own.

How to apply

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$5164 + airfare (exact)

As a demonstration of its strong commitment to global connections and off-campus studies, Calvin has recently made the welcome decision to recalculate the fees for summer 2022 off-campus programs. The cost of tuition can now be applied to the direct costs of the program. As a result, the Dante in Florence program, which was priced at a $5575 (including tuition price), will now cost $5164 (including tuition price), resulting in a savings to each student of $411. 

We are pleased to be able to make our program more affordable to more students and hope that each participant will be able to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agent of renewal in this new place in the world!

Please note that this price does not include airfare.

Questions / contact

Jennifer Holberg

Jennifer Holberg

Chair of the English Department
Co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing
Full profile



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