The Sacramental Poetics of Dante's Commedia

Doctoral Dissertation


My interdisciplinary study uses the medieval sacramental theology of double signification to integrate two contemporary conversations in Dante scholarship: the question of how to understand Dante’s poetics, and the problems surrounding the presence of medieval liturgy in the Comedy. Using a close-reading methodology, I examine how three key passages from the Comedy–the encounters with Adam in Paradiso XXVI, Ulysses and Guido da Montefeltro in Inferno XXVI and XXVII, and Bonagiunta da Lucca in Purgatorio XXIV–reveal the human person as both a sign of God and (potentially) God by participation in Christ’s divine nature. This revelation allows Dante-Poet to present himself as not only imitating God’s writing, but as participating in God’s writing. The result is a new hermeneutical framework for an integrated reading of all three cantiche.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-03232010-103333

Author Stephen Michael Little
Advisor Christian Robert Moevs
Contributor Vittorio Hosle, Committee Member
Contributor Christian Robert Moevs, Committee Chair
Contributor Michael Driscoll, Committee Member
Contributor Margaret A. Doody, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Literature
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2009-12-14

Submission Date 2010-03-23
  • United States of America

  • italian

  • sacraments

  • dante’s ulysses

  • literature

  • eucharist

  • dante’s adam

  • medieval

  • poetry

  • epic

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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