April 18, 2005
John Ahern (Vassar College): "Red Dress, White Dress: Emily Dickinson Reads Dante"
Emily Dickinson's reading of Dante's Vita Nuova has escaped the attention of many scholars and readers. This tantalizing book told her all her "dreams were true." But did the famously reclusive, imaginative Dickinson identify with Beatrice in her gown or Dante the writer?
John Ahern has held the Dante Antolini Chair of Italian Letters at Vassar College since 1982. His research centers on the production and reception of Italian literature in the fourteenth century. He has published widely on Dante in scholarly journals such as Publications of the Modern Language Association, Romanic Review, Letture Classensi, and Dante Studies. His reviews have appeared in the New Republic, American Poetry Review, the New York Times Book Review, and Parnassus. He has served as Vice President of the Dante Society of America. At present his research focuses on the Familiares of Petrarch and his relation to the legal scholar, Giovanni d'Andrea.