May 6, 2022

2022 LRC High Profile Event Showcases Bridges Between Dante’s Divine Comedy and Indian Literature

On March 7th, 2022, the Italian Studies Program with the support of the Language Research Center of the University of Calgary and of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities hosted a community outreach event, both in person and streamed online, to conclude the celebrations for the 700 year anniversary since Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s death (1321-2021).

Dr. Rashmi Batt, an Art Director, renowned performer of Indian Music, and a graduate of Università per Stranieri di Perugia and of the Università Normale di Pisa, shared with the public his own understanding of Dante’s Divine Comedy, seen as a universal piece of poetry. He started by discussing Indian Aesthetic and Indian Poetry, and Dante’s role in the European Middle Ages, showing the points of connections between the two traditions. He then specifically explored the influences that Dante’s Divine Comedy had on great Indian figures of the XIX and XX centuries, and specifically on the poetry of Sri Aurobindo.

Dr. Bhatt also performed Indian Music to accompany as Dr. Francesca Cadel and Dr. Eleonora Buonocore from the University of Calgary read excerpts from Dante’s Inferno, Hell, and Paradiso, Heaven. There were over 35 people in attendance in presence and many more were watching the event livestreamed from the University of Calgary and from the larger community. After the lecture and performance, Dr. Bhatt answered many questions from the public, and a lively discussion was born, showing how though-provoking Dante’s Divine Comedy can be still today, especially if it is put in dialogue with other traditions across time and space. The event was a success, and many students expressed their gratitude to Dr. Bhatt for his enlightening contributions.