February 12, 2020 English Language Meeting
February 12 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
When: February 12, 2020
Speaker: Prof. Lloyd Howard
Topic: The Power of Music on the Shore of Dante’s Purgatory
About the Speaker:
Lloyd Howard received his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in 1976, after which, the subsequent year, he was appointed to a tenure-track position at the University of Victoria, where he taught until his retirement at the rank of Professor in 2016. Along with teaching in the Department over 39 years, he served as Chair of the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies for a total of 15 years, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities for six-month terms in 1997 and 2000, and Director of the Medieval Studies Program for 3 years. His research focussed initially on the extant poetry of Guido Cavalcanti, before turning to Dante’s Commedia. His approach to interpreting this work follows an alternate, non-linear journey through Dante’s three realms of the afterlife. The signposts that mark the way consist of recurrent linguistic patterns, or formulas, by which the reader is guided through the space that comprises the poem’s 100 cantos. Along with numerous articles, he has written two books adopting this method: Formulas of Repetition in Dante’s Commedia: Signposted Journeys across Textual Space (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2001); Virgil the Blind Guide: Marking the Way through the Divine Comedy (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010). Scholarly recognition of his methodology includes the former book being chosen as an “Outstanding Title” for 2002 by the American Library Association, and one of its chapters being selected by Harold Bloom to form part of Bloom’s edition on the Commedia: Dante Alighieri, published in 2011. His articles in more recent years have been published by Letteratura Italiana Antica in Rome.
Professor Howard will begin his talk with a brief description of Dante’s world and how the Commedia was transmitted both in written form and orally by singing Dante’s text. He will then turn to the second canto of the Purgatorio, where Dante introduces the soul of the musician, Casella, who, while living, sang Dante’s love poems. He will explore how Casella’s “encore” performance of Dante’s song, “Amor che ne la mente mi ragiona,” goes wrong, as opposed to the Psalm “In exitu Israel de Aegypto,”sung in tonus peregrinus by all the delivered pilgrim souls earlier. Lastly, Professor Howard will discuss the Paradiso where, by flight through the music enhanced spheres, Dante, a famed writer of worldly love songs, reaches the Celestial Rose and, in contrast to when his attention was focused on unworthy loves, the once straying poet fixes his attentive eyes upward to the Virgin Mary, whose intercession brings Dante the pilgrim home to God.