This article examines how Dante used history and suggests approaches to incorporate his texts into undergraduate history teaching. Examples of successful assignments are offered that encourage students to compare Dante’s historical figures in a work like the Commedia with “real” history. Such exercises introduce students to some of the creative ways that Dante shaped many historical figures to meet his purposes — personal, political, or spiritual. An extended case study of Dante’s inclusion of southern Italian historical actors is used to illustrate some of the more complex ways that Dante revised or reinvented historical events. It is argued that Dante’s use of history can be a valuable tool to teach the skills of critical analysis and close reading.

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