Research Symposium

22nd annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

Sephora Affa she/her/hers Poster Session 3: 11:00-11:45/Poster #43



Hi, my name is Sephora Affa and I am a sophomore at FSU. Regarding research, I value interdisciplinary approaches because that way, we are better able to complement the collaborative nature of our world.

The Complex Between Art, History, and Power: Contemporary East African Interpretations of Dante's Divine Comedy

Authors: Sephora Affa, Dr. Elizabeth Coggeshall
Student Major: English: Editing, Writing, Media
Mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Coggeshall
Mentor's Department: Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics
Mentor's College: College of Arts and Sciences


Italian colonialism led to direct cross-cultural interactions between Italy and Eritrea, Somalia, Libya, and Ethiopia. When it comes to interpreting these interactions, there emerges a complex relationship between art, history, and power. The vast dispersion of the Divine Comedy lends itself to this relationship, as its artistic themes and contributions are multi-dimensional. What do the nature of post-colonial East African Commedia references reveal about the tension between thematic reception and colonialism’s impact?
To answer this question, the proposed research project will first examine the most exportable themes of Dante’s Inferno and the literary lens through which these themes can be viewed. Which thematic elements do East African interpretations highlight, and which elements are overlooked? After this, the research will interpret the complex post-colonial responses to Dante’s work. Does Dante's reception in East Africa manifest itself through new artworks that synergize Dante's themes with colonialism, or does colonialism even play a significant role in these new interpretations?

Keywords: Dante, Africa, Complex