Project Paradiso: A Gateway to Dante’s Heaven


Dante’s Paradiso is the least studied and the least understood of the three parts of the Commedia. Yet it is arguably the most important for the dynamism and originality of the literary, theological, and philosophical inquiries that take place there. It is also a singularly important interpretive guide for a full understanding of the entire Commedia. It is a poem that asks to be tackled by a community of engaged readers: here it’s your opportunity! This year-long series of webinar workshops led by world-renowned scholars will take you on a deep reading of the Paradiso and an unforgettable journey to the heart of Dante’s universe. This virtual series will reward both first-time and expert readers of the Commedia with an opportunity to delve deep into one of the most complex and daring speculative poems ever written. We’ll be meeting online almost every other week from October to May. See below for full schedule.


Presented by the Humanities Institute and the Department of Literature Italian Studies. Sponsored by the University of California Humanities Research Institute, Siegfried and Elizabeth Mignon Puknat Literary Studies Endowment, and Porter College

October 27, 2023 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode One – Introduction – A Restless Paradise

Featuring: Filippo Gianferrari, Assistant Professor of Literature, UCSC and Ronald Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor, State University of New York, Geneseo

November 17, 2023 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Two – The Structure of Dante’s Paradiso: or How to Tell a Story beyond Time, Space, and Individuality

Featuring:  Alejandro Cuadrado, Lecturer in Italian, Yale University

December 1, 2023 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Three – The Subject of Violence (Paradiso 3–5 & 14–18)

Featuring: Brenda Schildgen, Prof. Emerita of Comparative Literature, UC Davis

December 15, 2023 – 9:00 AM (Pacific):  Episode Four – Beatrice’s Authority

Featuring: Elena Lombardi, Professor of Italian Literature, Oxford University

December 22, 2023 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Five – The Sun (Paradiso 10–13) and The Body of Knowledge (Paradiso 14)

Featuring: Filippo Gianferrari, Assistant Professor of Literature, UCSC and Ronald Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor, State University of New York, Geneseo

January 12, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Six – Politics and Prophecy: Past, Present, and Future (Paradiso 15–18)

Featuring: Rev’d Claire Honess, University of Leeds

January 26, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Seven – Justice for All (Paradiso 19–21)

Featuring: Akash Kumar, Assistant Professor of Italian, UC Berkeley

February 9, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): This session has been canceled.

February 23, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Nine – Language (Paradiso 26)

Featuring: Heather Webb, Professor of Medieval Italian Literature and Culture, University of Cambridge

March 8, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Ten – A Drama of Choice at the Extremity of the Universe (Paradiso 27–30)

Featuring: Alison Cornish, Professor of Italian; Chair of Italian Studies, NYU; President of the Dante Society of America

March 22, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Eleven – The End of Imagination (Paradiso 33)

Featuring: William Franke, Professor of Comparative Literature and Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University

April 5, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Twelve – Flower of Humanity: The Vergin Mary in Paradiso (Par. 23 and 31-33)

Featuring: Brian K. Reynolds, Prof. of Italian, Fu Jen Catholic University

April 19, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Thirteen – Early Receptions

Featuring: Simon Gilson, Agnelli-Serena Professor of Italian at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Magdalen College

May 3, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Fourteen – Global Perspectives, Part 1: Paradiso in World Literature & Culture

Featuring: Martin Eisner, Associate Professor of Italian, Duke University

May 17, 2024 – 9:00 AM (Pacific): Episode Fifteen – Global Perspectives, Part 2 & 3: Paradiso in World Religions & Spirituality and A Text that Fosters Interreligious Dialogue

Featuring: Eileen Gardiner, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Bristol and Vittorio Montemaggi, Academic Director, Notre Dame London Global Gateway

November 14, 2024 – 9:50 AM (Pacific): Episode Sixteen – The Futures of Dante’s Paradiso: Reading Forward

Featuring: Professor Alison Cornish, New York University and Professor Arielle Saiber, Johns Hopkins University