Measuring the World I

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut in collaboration with the Museo Galileo – Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza
Organized by Rebecca Bowen, Emanuele Lugli (Stanford University), and Gerhard Wolf

La materia della Divina commedia di Dante Alighieri, Plate VI: "The Ordering of Paradise" by Michelangelo Caetani (1885), Cornell University Library

Coinciding with the exhibition Il mondo di Dante tra scienza e poesia, organized by the Museo Galileo and Gallerie degli Uffizi, this symposium seeks to explore Dante's profound meditation on the nature of space and time, as well as the notion of measuring the world in, through and with Dante.

Bringing together historians, literary scholars, and scientists, this explorative and experimental workshop invites reflection on Dante's meditation on the poetic potential of physics, the necessity of grounding artistic speculation in scientific awareness, and the ways in which measuring (both mathematical and metrical) is itself a form of world building. The conference, then, attempts to overcome the divide between the arts, philosophy, and the sciences to rediscover them, in Dante's wake, as platforms for inquiries that, when intertwined, open up perspectives, overcoming individual understandings and epochal preconceptions to consider the world afresh, in light of the multiverses contained and constructed by Dante’s texts. The symposium is the first in a series concentrated on Dante and will be followed by others exploring the productive tensions and exchanges between science and the arts, whose reciprocal listening is integral to the sustaining of life that takes measure, expansively, of the worlds "surrounding” it.

The workshop will be held in Italian / English as indicated by the titles of the contributions.



09:15 Palazzo Pitti (for speakers and guests only)

Visit to the Exhibition Il mondo di Dante tra scienza e poesia with the Curator Filippo Camerota (Museo Galileo) 

11:00 Break 

11:30 Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai (for speakers and guests only)

Welcome and Introduction – Gerhard Wolf, Roberto Ferrari, Rebecca Bowen, Emanuele Lugli


Session 1: Building and Mapping Worlds 

Angelo Cattaneo (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Roma) – Implicit Measurements: Dante as a Performative Spectator of the Worlds

Nicolò Crisafi (University of Cambridge) – A Non-Teleological Poetic Universe

Anna Chisena (Università di Bologna) – Le scienze celesti nel Convivio: modelli, autori e immagini

13:15 Lunch break 


Session 2: A Poetic Universe 

Beatrice Bottomley (Warburg Institute, London) – The Zāʾijra, between Cosmological Construction and Divine Versification

Rebecca Bowen (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – MPI) – “Legato con amore in un volume”: Poetry and Eternity


Session 3: Dante and Metrics 

Chiara Cappuccio (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) – Misurare lo spazio attraverso il suono nella Commedia di Dante

Maria Clotilde Camboni (Sorbonne Université, Paris) – Dante, metro e misura

16:30 Break 


Session 4: The Measurement of Hell 

Emanuele Lugli (Stanford University) in conversazione con Pasquale Terraciano (Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento di Firenze)


Conclusions and Final Discussion – Moderated by Gerhard Wolf


Lectura Dantis: Paradiso XXXIII – letto da Emanuele Marchesini



For online attendance via Zoom:



in cooperation with

04 March 2022

This event will take place online.

To participate please register in advance via Zoom:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Venue (for speakers and guests only)

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai, Via dei Servi 51, 50122 Firenze, Italia


This event will be documented photographically and/or recorded on video. Please let us know if you do not agree with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz using images in which you might be recognizable for event documentation and public relation purposes (e.g. social media).


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