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Comparative Becomings

Studies in Transition


Edited By Michael G. Kelly and Daragh O'Connell

The comparative gesture performs both the act and the question of transition between the terms compared. Understood as an intercultural practice, comparative literature may thus also be understood as both a transitive and a transnational process, creating its own object and form of knowledge as it identifies and analyses lines of relation and exchange between literary cultures. When navigating between languages, the discipline becomes critically engaged with the possibility and methods of such navigation. Interdisciplinary and intermedial versions of comparative studies likewise centre around transitions that may themselves remain under-analysed.

This collection of essays, with contributions ranging from medieval literature to digital humanities, seeks to illuminate and interrogate the very diversity of comparative situations, with their attendant versions of comparative discourse. The volume as a whole thereby reflects, however fragmentedly, a field of study that is itself faced with the reality of transition. As both a thematic and formal concern in comparative work, transition emerges, within any historical period or other configuration in which it is charted and analysed, as key to the renewed relevance of comparative literary scholarship and study today.

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1 ‘Denti Alligator’: The Dantification of Popular Culture (Daragh O’Connell)


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1 ‘Denti Alligator’: The Dantification of Popular Culture

‘Dante’s Inferno is a landscape so rich in symbolism and iconography that I often dedicate an entire semester course to it. And tonight, I thought there would be no better way to unveil the symbols of Dante’s Inferno than to walk side by side with him … through the gates of hell. […] Now, if we’re planning on taking a stroll through hell, I strongly recommend we use a map. And there is no map of Dante’s hell more complete and accurate than the one painted by Sandro Botticelli. […] Unlike some artists, Botticelli was extremely faithful in his interpretation of Dante’s text. In fact, he spent so much time reading Dante that the great art historian Giorgio Vasari said Botticelli’s obsession with Dante led to “serious disorders in his living”. Botticelli created more than two dozen other works relating to Dante, but this map is his most famous. […]

Our journey will begin up there, above ground, where you can see Dante in red, along with his guide, Virgil, standing outside the gates of hell. From there they will travel downwards, through the nine rings of Dante’s inferno, and eventually come face to face with […]. A glance at coming attractions. This frightening character here is where tonight’s journey will end. This is the ninth ring of hell, where Satan himself resides. However, […] getting there is half the fun, so let’s rewind a bit … back...

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