Steven Justice

Steven Justice

Chancellor’s Professor in English; Senior Fellow, Berkeley Institute

Dante’s Purgatorio

An Art of Willing

Dante’s Divine Comedy is certainly the greatest literary work Europe produced in the middle ages, maybe the greatest it has ever produced. Part of its greatness is its laying out for imagination what the will (will as both desire and choice) requires for its successful realization. It presents, you might say, an “art of willing.” These classes will introduce the Purgatorio, the second of the Comedy’s three parts, which narrates the journey through Purgatory. Though the instructor is a scholar of medieval literature, we will not look mainly at its medieval or its literary qualities; we will think through the discipline of wanting, choosing, and acting that it embodies. To receive a copy of the book or for more information, please contact

Dates: Tuesdays on 3.29, 4.5, 4.19, 4.26
Time: 5:30-7:00pm

Reading schedule

3/29: Purgatorio, cantos 1-8.
4/5: Purgatorio, cantos 9-16.
4/19: Purgatorio, cantos 17-24.
4/26: Purgatorio, cantos 25-33.

All readings from Dante, Purgatorio. Trans. Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Bantam, 1984.