Dr. Lorenzo Valterza is a scholar on Dante Alighieri and the Italian language. He holds a PhD from Rutgers and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Notre Dame. Lorenzo’s doctoral thesis was about the impact of torture and Roman law in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
In this episode we discussed many things about the Italian language and his background growing up hearing different dialects and then going on to study and teach it later in life. I asked him about the Italian-American mispronunciations of capicola (gabagool) and pasta fagiole (fashul). And some of the similarities to Spanish and Italian.
We talked a lot about Dante and how every generation will interpret his works through the prism of their times. For instance, the nature of torture, fate vs free will, or justice.
But most importantly, we discussed the many ways that Dante was like Regina George from Mean Girls. Hint: he wrote the Inferno as a sort of Burn Book.