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Dante studies in Victorian Britain
Federica Coluzzi

This chapter discusses how by the end of the nineteenth century Victorian dantismo began to be practised and understood as a form of public outreach and engagement as well as of political and cultural exchange on a national and international level. It retraces the dynamics of disciplinary specialisation of Dante studies from the perspective of the scholarly activities of the Oxford, London and Manchester Dante Societies established between 1876 and 1906, and the creation of Dante Collections at University College London and at the John Rylands Library. It illustrates how these professional institutions were responsible for catalysing the methodological turn from dantophilia to dantismo, and the institutionalisation of the teaching of Dante in academic (established and extramural) courses. This reconstruction rests on the perusal of archival holdings including the Societies’ records, minute books, teaching syllabi and transcriptions of lectures as witnesses of the diverse political, aesthetic, and ideological make-ups of the Societies as well as of the cultural exchange nationally and internationally. The chapter pays particular attention to figures such as Henry Clark Barlow, Edward Moore, Paget Toynbee, Charles Tomlinson and Azeglio Valgimigli for the way their personal trajectories exemplified the historical and socio-cultural evolution of the Dante enthusiast into a Dante scholar: a turn that fostered the conditions for the creation of one of the most eminent scholarly Dante traditions outside Italy. 

in Dante beyond influence

Chapter 1 contextualizes the book’s analysis in the longue duree history of Uyghur relations with modern China up to 2001. It describes this relationship as having emerged from imperial conquest in the mid-eighteenth century, when the Qing Dynasty conquered the Uyghurs’ homeland, and having developed under the shadow of colonial relations ever since. In particular, it charts the gradual transformation of this relationship as the Uyghur homeland slowly transitioned from being a frontier colony on the edges of Chinese power to the object of Chinese settler colonization. While this history includes moments of accommodation where the relationship between modern China and the Uyghurs appeared headed towards a post-colonial reality, these moments were always temporary and followed by the re-establishment of colonial domination. The chapter ends by suggesting that the Chinese state’s decision to brand Uyghurs as terrorists in the context of GWOT shut off these post-colonial possibilities entirely at a time when they held great potential for the future of relations between Uyghurs and modern China.

in The war on the Uyghurs

Chapter 4 explains that, despite the international claims of a Uyghur terrorist threat established in 2002, very few, if any, Uyghur-led premeditated acts of political violence took place inside the Uyghur homeland during the first decade of GWOT. As a result, China’s policies towards the Uyghurs and their homeland in the early 2000s were more focused on development of the Uyghur region than on combatting its virtually non-existent terrorist threat. This development also fostered a creeping settler colonialism in the Uyghur region, leading to large numbers of Han migrants to the region, facilitating displacement, and promoting Uyghur assimilation into a Han-dominated society. The chapter points to the 2009 Urumqi ethnic violence between Uyghurs and Han as the primary turning point in state policy towards Uyghurs. The state’s primary response to this violence was to expedite its development and colonization of the Uyghur region, but it also included the beginnings of a violent crackdown on pious Uyghurs, particularly in the south of the Uyghur region, initiating a self-perpetuating conflict between rural Uyghur populations and state security forces, which would escalate in coming years.

in The war on the Uyghurs
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From grande amore to lungo studio - rethinking the hermeneutic turn in Dante reception history
Federica Coluzzi

The conclusion revisits the key-claims of the study, drawing the central implications of having expounded the greater intellectual and material complexity of the mechanism of Dante’s Victorian reception. It emphasises how the mapping of the Victorian hermeneutical turn raises crucial questions on the importance of historical practices of reading, annotating and book-collecting for providing a comprehensive representation of the phenomenon and its manifold ramifications in nineteenth- and twentieth-century periodical and print culture.

in Dante beyond influence
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The conclusion examines the likely future outcomes of the processes of cultural genocide presently taking place in the Uyghur homeland by seeking to answer to three critical questions. How will the present crisis end? What are its ramifications for the future development of GWOT? And what can be done to stem the present processes of cultural genocide in the Uyghur homeland? While the conclusion seeks to hold the Chinese state accountable for its mass atrocities against the Uyghurs, it also places blame on the international community for facilitating this tragedy through its manipulation of GWOT. As such, the conclusion argues, among other things, for the necessity to end this war in order to prevent more genocidal outcomes like that suffered by the Uyghurs. The chapter ends with some thoughts about what the Uyghur cultural genocide tells us about the ominous direction in which the world is headed today.

in The war on the Uyghurs
Christina and Maria Francesca Rossetti’s Dante sisterhood
Federica Coluzzi

Chapter three argues that by the mid-1870s, the rising field of Dante Studies had become one of the new territories of endeavour claimed by a growing public of women of letters, actively negotiating their critical identity and scholarly authority as professional mediators of Dantean knowledge. Through an initial bibliographical survey, the chapter illustrates how a socially varied community of established and of lesser-known women writers played a pivotal part in launching the process of production, promotion and dissemination of Dantean literature among in late Victorian Britain, through a wide-ranging body of literary and pedagogic works. The chapter focuses on the paradigmatic case of Christina and Maria Francesca Rossetti for the way they negotiated with the forces of patriarchal authority represented by their male-centric “family dantismo”, to achieve authority as public and professional mediators of Dantean knowledge. The chapter first discusses on Christina’s periodical articles - ‘Dante, an English Classic’ for the Churchman’s Shilling Magazine and Family Treasury (1867) and ‘Dante, the Poet illustrated out of the Poem’ for the Century Magazine (1884) – and her work as editor Cayley’s translation of the Commedia: an activity documented in her personal edition of the work, now at the Houghton Library. It then moves onto the textual and book-historical analysis of Maria Francesca’s handbook A Shadow of Dante (1871) to elucidate the biographical dynamics through which she constructed her critical expertise and scholarly knowledge, gaining cultural power and public recognition as a pioneer Dante scholar on the Victorian literary market. 

in Dante beyond influence

Chapter 6 explains how the events of 2013–2016 laid the foundations for a campaign of cultural genocide that began in earnest from 2017. The chapter subsequently analyzes the brutality and invasiveness of this campaign itself, which is ongoing, is systematic, brutal, and ultimately aimed at eliminating Uyghur identity as we know it. In particular, the chapter focuses on a complex of policies that have driven this campaign, including the mass internment system, the pervasive surveillance network, and attempts to transform both the landscape of the Uyghur homeland and the lives and culture of Uyghur people. While the chapter highlights the state’s justification for these measures as a counterterrorism effort, it locates the true motivations for them in the state’s increasing settler colonization of the Uyghur homeland.

in The war on the Uyghurs
Rethinking reception in Victorian literary culture

Dante Beyond Influence provides the first systematic inquiry into the formation of the British critical and scholarly discourse on Dante in the late nineteenth century (1865–1921). Overcoming the primacy of literary influence and intertextuality, it instead historicises and conceptualises the hermeneutic turn in British reception history as the product of major transformations in Victorian intellectual, social and publishing history.

The volume unpacks the phenomenology of Victorian dantismo through the analysis of five case studies and the material examination of a newly discovered body of manuscript and print sources. Extending over a sixty-year long period, the book retraces the sophistication of the Victorian modes of readerly and writerly engagement with Dantean textuality. It charts its outward expression as a public criticism circulating in prominent nineteenth-century periodicals and elucidates its wider popularisation (and commodification) through Victorian mass-publishing. It ultimately brings forth the mechanism that led to the specialisation of the scholarly discourse and the academisation of Dante studies in traditional and extramural universities. Drawing on the new disciplines of book history and history of reading, the author provides unprecedented insight into the private intellectual life and public work of Christina Rossetti, Matthew Arnold, William E. Gladstone, and introduces a significant cohort of Dante critics, scholars and learned societies hitherto passed unnoticed.

As it recaptures a long-neglected moment in Dante’s reception history, this path-breaking book illuminates the wider socio-cultural and economic impact that the Victorian hermeneutic turn had in advancing women’s access to literary and scholarly professions, educational reform and discipline formation.

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Matthew Arnold’s criticism in Victorian periodicals
Federica Coluzzi

The second chapter focuses on Matthew Arnold, arguing that his long-neglected relation with Dantean textuality is most representative of the initial phase of the Victorian hermeneutic turn, with the emergence of a coherent and conspicuous critical discourse in lectures, essays and reviews between 1853 and 1888. The chapter carries out the first systematic inquiry into the formation and development of Arnold’s Dantean criticism by reunifying the large, but fragmented corpus of general references and quoted passages from the Commedia found in his private notebooks and published prose-works. So far disregarded as unresponsive and unproductive, the chapter reinterprets these sententiae as meaningful hermeneutic signs revealing the inner mechanisms of Arnold’s critical assimilation and manipulation of Dantean knowledge within broader interventions in literary and cultural criticism.  Such macroscopic investigation, however, is complemented and enhanced with a close-reading analysis of a uniquum in Arnold’s prose-works: a ‘Dante and Beatrice’, an article printed in the pages of the Fraser’s in May 1863, and representing the only existing/surviving piece of unitary and extensive piece of criticism entirely devoted to Dante. The chapter first retraces the composition and publishing history of Arnold’s review of Theodore Martin’s translation of the Vita Nuova (1862), and then discuss how the piece not only redefined the forms and intents of the Dante-debate in British periodicals and newspapers, but actively contributed to create the ideological conditions for the rise of Dante studies in late 1870s. 

in Dante beyond influence
Philip H. Wicksteed and Victorian mass readerships
Federica Coluzzi

Chapter four explores Philip H. Wicksteed’s manifold, and yet largely unrecognised, contribution to the popularisation of Dantean knowledge in Britain achieved through an unconventional (and historically unprecedented) selection of topics, literary genres, target audience and institutions. Through a comprehensive biographical reconstruction, it retraces the evolution of Wicksteed’s scholarly persona: from Unitarian preacher interested in the spiritual and uplifting use of Dante’s theological message in his Six Sermons to Dante lecturer working for the University Extension Movement; from the translator and editor of the Dent’s Temple Classics to internationally recognised scholar with a large body of academic publications. In so doing, the chapter demonstrate that Wicksteed achieved authorship status and critical authority as a pioneering practitioner of what I term commercial dantismo: a materially affordable and academically accessible form of scholarship purposefully designed for the growing middle- and lower-class public, which fostered an unprecedented growth of the opportunities for dissemination and (creative and critical) appropriation of Dantean knowledge in British literary culture.

in Dante beyond influence