“Katherine Powlesland’s new book Narrative Strategies for Participation in Dante’s Divine Comedy, which will be Italian Perspectives 53, brings an entirely new angle to Dante studies. This is a bold claim, given that Dante studies is enjoying its 700th anniversary this year, but Katherine is bringing to bear theories from cognitive neuroscience and from the critical study of videogames, so I think we can be fairly sure that the medieval scholiasts did not get there before her. But there is a certain affinity between the desire of modern game writers, and the desire of 13th-century epic poets, to enmesh their readers in a participatory experience.
“An immersive game today, or a text like the Divine Comedy or the Roman de la Rose, very much want the reader to experience for herself: to be in that wood, to find her way around that wall, to look into that mirror-like pool with her own eyes. Katherine sees both media as governed by mechanics of narrative participation.” [. . .] –“Bringing Video Game Theory to Dante,” Modern Humanities Research Association, June 27, 2021
The book will be released in 2022. See more information about it, in particular a discussion of its cover art, here.