Lectio Commedia: Dante, Poet of Hope

Beginning October 6th, every other Wednesday Dr. Mark McCullough (PhD in Humanities from the City University of New York) will facilitate a 45-minute discussion on one canto of Dante Alighieri’s masterwork The Divine Comedy at 12pm ET: the Lectio Commedia: Dante, Poet of Hope. This will be preceded by a reading of the canto with a brief commentary and explication on a given theme the Friday prior.

Join us as we explore the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, walking in the footsteps of Dante and his guides, and putting a concrete presentation of evocative imagery to insightful Thomistic moral doctrine.

“One test of the great masters” wrote T.S. Eliot, “is that the appreciation of their poetry is a lifetime’s task, because at every stage of maturing—and that should be one’s whole life–you are able to understand them better.”

Of these masters, Eliot chose Dante as the one he owed more to than any other poet. He said the debt he owed Dante “is the kind which goes on accumulating, the kind which is not the debt of one period” but of his whole life.

Indeed, Dante is a poet for all seasons. His Divine Comedy is the summit of his poetic powers. No one can claim to be well-versed in the great literature of the Western Canon without having encountered Dante’s vision of hell, purgatory, and heaven.

Translator Dorothy Sayer’s admitted that few modern readers are able to appreciate Dante’s vision without understanding something of the poet’s theological, political, and personal background. Yet who among us has the time to tackle all of this?

To address this difficulty, I have designed a twice-a-month course on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Starting October 6 at 12 noon, and every other week thereafter, for one hour, we will discuss a canto or two together. I have taught Dante for many years and am currently writing a book on Dante and psychology. In this course, I welcome anyone who desires to understand Dante better.

I will be reading from a number of translations, including Mark Musa, Robert and Jean Hollander, and Allen Mandelbaum. Look for audio uploads of my reading and discussing Dante’s poetry.

Dr. McCullough

This program is open to all members of the Lyceum Institute. Enroll here today.

Fall Seminars

The Lyceum Institute Fall Seminars will begin the first week of October. Brief descriptions and links with more details and enrollment options are below below.

More than Aesthetics: Ens Artificiale & the Philosophy of Art [REGISTER]

Matthew Minerd

What is the being of a work of art?  What is the nature of “poetic” knowledge, the experience of the artisan and the artist?  How should a Thomist speak about these matters?  This lecture series is devoted to these questions, taking as their principal guide, Jacques Maritain, who probed these questions in his works Art and Scholasticism, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, and Art and Poetry.  Other thinkers will be consulted along the way, presenting a synthesis which, however, uses Maritain’s texts as the primary guiding thread of the lecture discussion. [REGISTER]

Thomistic Psychology: The Meaning of Evil [REGISTER]

Kirk Kanzelberger

Every human being has some notion of evil, vague though it may be, as that which is opposed to a good:  the good that one desires, the good that one honors – or, perhaps, the good that one wishes one honored or desired more than one does.  Even those who lack an inclination to deeper questioning concerning the matter and the meaning of evil can nevertheless find themselves possessed with anger at states of affairs, ideas, and other persons they clearly judge to be evil.  Might there be some relation of dependence between the lack of deeper questioning and the frenzy of the anger, as well as the lack of humility it evinces?  For if we are honest, we must admit that, despite every good intention, we ourselves have some share in, and make some concrete contribution to, the mysterious reality of evil in the world.  This seminar aims to deepen our questioning concerning the meaning, that is, the intelligible reality signified by the term evil. [REGISTER HERE]

Metaphysics: God [REGISTER]

Brian Kemple

In the second Metaphysics seminar, we will engage in a deep Thomistic discussion of the intelligible discovery of the existence of God and the justifiable inferences which may be made concerning the Divine Nature.  This stands in corresponding opposition to the via resolutionis secundum rationem discussed in the first Metaphysics seminar, concerning the discovery of ens inquantum ens, as the via resolutionis secundum rem—according to the thing, according to the existential cause.  This will unfold further into a consideration of the attributes of the Divine which may be justly inferred from the resolution to a First Cause.  Thus, the primary reading for the course will be from the Prima pars of the Summa theologiae. [REGISTER HERE]

[Symposium] Paradise Lost – Book IX

Paradise Lost

Book IX: The Fall of Adam and Eve

John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is the most ambitious and complex poem ever written in English. Composed while Milton was blind and in political exile, the poem tells the story of angels’ rebellion in Heaven, the creation of the universe, and humanity’s fall into sin. Equal to its Homeric and Virgilian predecessors, the epic was an instant classic and inspired generations of poets. Today the poem continues to draw readers to its unrivaled depiction of Satan and attempt to “justify the ways of God to men.”

Join psychotherapist and former literature professor Dr. Mark McCullough for a two-part introduction to and discussion of one of the poem’s most significant passages, book 9 which dramatizes Paradise Lost’s central scene: the fall of Adam and Eve. No prior experience is necessary to join the discussions, though participants are asked to read book 9 and familiarize themselves with a few additional online interview/lectures about the poem prepared by Dr. McCullough.

This two week event (5/12-5/19) is available to all Lyceum Institute members.

(If you aren’t a member yet, first, you may want to re-evaluate your life decisions, and second, you can sign up here.)