Dante’s Bones and the Idea of Italy


ACLS Fellowship Program


French and Italian


The first complete account of Dante’s skeletal history, from his burial in Ravenna in 1321 to a computer-generated reconstruction of his face in 2006, “Dante’s Bones” provides unique insight into the political and cultural history of Italy, which celebrates its 150th birthday in 2011. Physical claims on Dante’s bones are ultimately ideological ones on his legitimating authority. This project shows how individuals and institutions have exploited Dante’s tomb and remains to promote their various political, religious, and cultural agendas as the poet evolved from an object of regional rivalry between Florence and Ravenna into the prophet of Italy and a proponent of Italian nationalism before becoming the global icon that he is today.