course outline

WEA Course Information Sheet 2015-16
Course title: To Hell and Back with Dante
Course reference: C3526869
Tutor(s): Dr Stephen Bemrose
Venue: WEA, Bradninch Court, Castle Street, Exeter
Fee: £80
Start date: 29/09/15
End date: 02/12/15
Day(s)/time(s): Wednesdays, 2pm
Number of sessions: 10
Hours per session: 2
Title of qualification to be gained (if any): N/A
Awarding body (if any): N/A
Essential materials e.g. books and equipment to be provided by the student
English translation of Dante’s Inferno by Mark Musa (Penguin Classics)
Course aims:
To tackle in manageable extracts, clearly translated, the highlights of a unique mediaeval poem.
To explore the deep and timeless links between Dante’s world and our own.
Course description:
By exploring passages (in translation) from Dante’s Inferno, a landmark in world literature, this
course takes us into the mediaeval mindset and the turbulent world of Italian politics on the
threshold of the Renaissance
Any prior knowledge or entry requirements?
Course content: what topics will the course cover?
1. Structure of Dante’s Hell
2. Dante as the main character in his own poem
3. Role of Virgil and the ancient world
4. Dramatic encounters with (e.g.) Francesca da
Rimini, Pier della Vigna, Pope Nicholas III, Ulysses
5. Key moral questions: Free Will, Suicide, Usury, Treachery.
Teaching, learning and assessment methods: tick those to be used 
Project work
Question and
Activity outside
class time
Field trip
Role play
Written work
Practical work
Group work
Other (state)
How will I receive feedback on my learning progress and achievement?
The course has no formal assessed assignments, but feedback on learning and achievement
operates informally, yet very valuably, in the constant flow of questions, reactions and debate
within the group. Individual involvement in this is constantly encouraged.
Learning outcomes: these are the intended outcomes and may be revised in discussion with the
class. Students are encouraged to think about and identify their own individual outcomes.
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
Link the topographical layout of Dante’s Hell with his ranking of different kinds of
Describe how Dante the character’s relationship with Virgil is explored.
Show with specific examples how the Inferno reflects political events during Dante’s lifetime.
Describe Dante’s literary skill in conveying individual human personality through the way his
characters speak.
Analyse the interaction between Dante and at least THREE of the damned souls he
Reading and information sources: Is any reading/preparation essential or desirable?
Suggestions for progression to further study or for using the skills and knowledge gained:
This course offers ideal preparation for tackling Dante’s Purgatorio and Paradiso.
You can read about your entitlements and responsibilities as a WEA student in our leaflet,
Services for Students here This includes information
on fees, learning support and financial support.
As part of your first course you accept a learning agreement. This applies to all courses you take in
this academic year. You should have a copy of the learning agreement (the tear-off portion of your
enrolment form), but if not please ask for a copy from your tutor.
You can enrol online for some courses or contact South West
Region, Bradninch Court, Castle Street, Exeter EX4 3PL Telephone 0845 4582758.
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