Wiles, J.C.

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Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
  • Publication
    Scemare, or Approaching “Virgillessness”
    (2022-12-13) Wiles, Jonny
    Any examination of the phenomenon of absence in the Commedia must account for a crucial linguistic issue: though they are amply attested in the Commedia’s sources, the words assenza, assente, and their derivatives are themselves conspicuously absent from the poem’s lexicon. Absence experiences are expressed in the poem partly through imagery and circumlocution, but also through a constellation of individual words which invoke experiences of absence without naming absence as such. One particularly suggestive word operating within this language of omission is the verb scemare. With a focus on Purgatorio 30, in this paper, I discuss the importance of scemare to Dante’s lexicon of exclusion, and the ways in which it shapes our experience and understanding of absence in the Commedia more broadly.
  • Publication
    "Centro del cammin:" Centers and Centrality in the 'Commedia'
    (2020-12-09) Wiles, J.C.
    The thematization of centrality in Dante’s Commedia is evident even in its opening lines. Despite the evident richness of the theme throughout the poem, however, criticism has overwhelmingly preferred to discuss centrality in the Commedia in terms of numbers. This has led to a general critical concern less with centrality than with what one might call “middleness,” which has precluded any serious discussion of the two distinct concepts. In the Commedia, the state of middleness carries with it the double meaning of mezzo as both a middle and a tangible medium through which action takes place, while centro carries its own distinct set of nuances. By consolidating existing critical receptions of centrality, and offering new approaches to the poem’s rich polycentrism, this essay elucidates the ways in which each potential center-geographical, numerological, “human” - offered by the poem functions as a perspectival lens through which to read it.