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Dante's The Divine Comedy: Assignment Information

This guide is for ENGL 2332 and 2341 - Professor Dethloff

General Information

The best library assignments are those that use a variety of resources including books, newspaper and journal articles, Internet sites, and even videos or audiocassettes. We encourage you to use a variety of sources when researching a topic. Books provide some of the best information for literary and historic topics.


 Your LSC Student ID is also your library card (see the back of the card). The library card barcode number allows remote (wi-fi and off-campus) access to the databases. In the databases you will find scholarly articles from literary journals. We hope you will take full advantage of the many resources our libraries offer.

ENGL 2332: World Literature Assignment

In groups, students will create a digital research guide to Dante's The Divine Comedy. This is an accumulation of scholarly resources and explanation of those resources, as well as a summary and analysis of the work itself, for students to follow while reading, studying and researching a work of literature. 

Your guide will be broken into these three parts:


Provide a biography of Dante.

Set up the cultural, historical, religious, or political context of his life and work. This established the framework for anyone preparing to read The Divine Comedy.

*The type of research you choose should be connected to the type of literary analysis that you undertake on the work itself in the body of your research guide.


Reveal the major themes of The Divine Comedy and explain their significance.

Areas of consideration include: 

  • politics
  • culture and society
  • religion

Describe the structure and style of the epic poem.

*This is where you analyze the work within the context that you set up in the introduction.

The sources presented here should be strictly literary criticism.

 Conclusion  Comment on the value of The Divine Comedy.
  • The research guide should contain at least 2,500 words of your own text.
  • You should have 10 secondary sources, and 2 must be books. Make sure that they are scholarly! 
  • The research guide will be composed in MS Word.
  • Your annotated bibliography will be composed in MS Word, in a separate file from your research guide.
  • Submit the file by email to Professor Dethloff.  


  • Each bibliographic entry that counts towards your 10 will begin with the MLA citation of the source

  • Beneath that, you will write a 250 word summary of the source

  • The sources should be listed alphabetically.


Purdue OWL and Brandon University Library have great examples of how to create an annotated bibliography.


*Your will have two separate files: one for the research guide and one for the annotated bibliography.


1. Never rely on a database to cite a source for you when you click the “cite this source” link or any other such tool.  These citations are often incorrect.  The same goes for online citation tools or those within Microsoft products.  It is beneficial to use these tools – within a database or online – to gather the necessary information for the citation.  However, it is always up to you to use your MLA Handbook to compose it and ensure its accuracy.

2. Do not take any information from an abstract that precedes an essay within a literary journal, whether in its entirety or just in parts, when you write your source summary. the summary should come from you only! Otherwise, you are plagiarizing. 


ENGL 2341: Forms of Literature Assignment

This is a defense paper about Dante's Inferno. You are expected to respond to the following questions in your defense:

  1. The Source: Why should I read something so old and archaic?
  2. The Text: Why is it important?
  3. The Receiver: What is in it for me?

Be sure to weave these answers together into a unified thesis/theme.

The Source

Why should I read something so old and archaic?

Things to research:

  • Dante's biography
  • Time period in history, culture, society, religion, politics, etc.

You need at use at least 2 secondary sources.

The Text

Why is it important?

This section you will create a literary analysis of Inferno. Your ideas will be supported by scholarly literary analysis.

You will need to use at least 2 secondary literary criticisms as secondary sources.

The Receiver

What is in it for me?

You are making the connection between the Source and the Text sections. This section is our own personal response to the text and what you learned from your research.

You will need to use at least  1 secondary source that fits the categories above. Be sure that this new source offers information about contemporary society.

*Note: Your research and what you include in your paper is contingent upon how you answer the questions.

Your paper will be in MLA format, including citation and documentation.

Minimum length: 1,500 words.

Miniminum number of secondary sources5

 --> Inferno is a Primary source.

With Inferno, the minimum number of sources listed in your work cited should be 6.


Hook the reader! Make it interesting. Lead up to an state your thesis. Explain why your paper is important:

  • What important context or connections have you drawn between the work and history, current times, place, situation?
  • How did you react to the work? - This is a great springboard for your research.
  • Why is Inferno an important work in Underworld Literature?

What is the problem or question in the work that needs to be answered?

State your thesis as the last line in your introduction.


Why I should read Dante's Inferno?

Why is it important?

What's in it for me?


Restate your thesis in a new way. (NEVER as the last sentence!)

Use a conclusion strategy:

  • Explain the implication of your analysis and the work.
  • Give a final evaluation of the work based on your analysis.
  • Present an area of ambiguity or any unresolved questions about the work that your analysis presents.

You will use a great deal of the research from this paper in you honors project. This is because Dante's Inferno plays a pivotal role in the creation of the western culture's underworld, as it will in your own. Keep in mind the honors project as you approach the research component and writing the paper.


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