Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2017

Teaching European Medieval Literature to Asian Students: A Didactic Proposal for the Divine Comedy

Matteo Brandi

Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China


Normally the teaching of European literature begins with the Middle Ages, the birthplace of various national literature: this, however, leads to a problem for the student, who is compelled to start from the literary texts which are farther from both their linguistic and cultural points of view. These difficulties are emphasized if we consider an Asian student, who in most cases lacks the philosophical, religious, and artistic points of reference necessary to understand the literary texts. In the field of teaching medieval literature, a special role is played by the Divine Comedy, a text that probably represents the highest point in the medieval literary production, both in terms of breadth and depth. The Divine Comedy continues to be a matter of privileged study not only in the Italian field, but also in culture and medieval society in general. The following paper proposes to follow a different teaching approach in introducing the work to Asian students, starting not only from the classic historical approach based on the previous Dante Alighieri's production, but also by incorporating the work into a comparative genre and theme context, based on both the previous classical texts (such as Virgil’s Aeneid) and the previous medieval texts (Scholasticism, Provençal poetry, medieval visions of the Afterlife, etc.). The paper seeks to emphasize the advantages of this didactic approach both in the preparatory lessons and during the true reading of the work, by reintroducing Dante's work into a broader cultural and literary context that pushes the student to fully immerse themselves in the culture of the time.


Didactic of literature, Asian students, medieval literature, divine comedy