Newberry Lecture: "JFK's Dante" - Deborah Parker (Virginia)


Location: Ruggles Hall, Newberry Library, Chicago

“JFK’s Dante” - Deborah Parker (University of Virginia)

Wednesday, September 6 at 5:30pm in Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library, Chicago

Center for Renaissance Studies Programs Dante Lecture

John F. Kennedy was a voracious reader and he put his reading to work in his speeches. His favorite quote was from Dante: “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in times of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” This lecture traces Kennedy’s deployment of this quote in different political contexts, explores the afterlife of the quote, and examines his reading habits more broadly. Kennedy employed famous authors like Dante in a campaign of persuasion. His use of Dante shows just what a felicitous conjunction this can be when wielded by a politician thoroughly aware of the tradition of American oratory and unafraid of eloquence.

Deborah Parker is Professor of Italian at the University of Virginia. Her research expertise and teaching focus on Italian and Mediterranean visual and print cultures in the medieval and early modern eras. She is the author of numerous monographs, articles, and collaborative projects in print and digital platforms. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Villa I Tatti—the Harvard Center for Italian Studies, Folger Shakespeare Library—and numerous others.

The Center for Renaissance Studies Dante Lectures have been held annually since 2001, bringing Dante scholars from throughout the United States and Europe to the Newberry to present cutting-edge research. From 1983 to 1997, multiple lectures were held each year under the series title “Lectura Dantis Newberrania.”

A wine reception will follow the lecture. Free and open to the public. Please register by noon on September 6 on this form.

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The Newberry’s Dante Lectures are cosponsored with the William and Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago.