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Friday, November 15, 2013

Dante, Lewis, and old-minded teenagers


Today, in the beautiful Italian town of Città della Pieve, Umbria, the Dante book has been presented to some hundred students from local high schools (15 to 18-year-olders). And for the first time, some of them had already read it after a suggestion by their Literature teacher.

From a sociological point of view, the most interesting phenomenon was our expectations being turned upside down: teachers (mostly women) did like the new fantasy keys suggested for interpreting the Divine Comedy, while several teenagers, especially girls, seemed to be 'upset' by those very keys. Maybe they did so just in order to contradict the lecturer, but the paradoxical result was that, by negating a negation, they reaffirmed the traditional interpretation, and therefore sounded 'older' than their 40-year-old teachers.

The lowest point was when a girl defined CS Lewis "a grandfather telling fairy tales to her little granddaughter." References to the University of Richmond's Milton List web discussions were needed to fix it.