On Wednesday, Dennis Looney, professor of Italian and classics at the University of Pittsburgh, spoke about the relationship between Dante and African-American culture.

Looney gave a lecture based off of his upcoming book "Freedom Readers: The African-American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy."

The book "discusses the notable presence of serious readers of Dante and his works in African-American culture from the early 19th century through the present," said Associate Professor of Italian Arielle Saiber, who helped organize the event.

"Looney's book is a riveting read," added Saiber. "The figures he analyzes range from activists, to politicians, to filmmakers, to poets."

Looney discussed how there are various phases of Dante which include "the Colored Dante," "the Negro Dante," "the Black Dante," and "the African-American Dante." Each of these "Dantes" illustrate how at different periods African-Americans have assumed and adapted Dante into their vernacular, writing, music and politics.

"It's a really neat example of interdisciplinarity and thinking broadly of what a classical canonical writer can say to so many different people at so many different times," said Saiber. "The book is still speaking to people and in such diverse ways."

The Departments of Romance Languages, Government and Legal Studies and History, the Africana studies program sponsored the lecture.