Dante to Joyce

Project began in 2023, and continues in 2024+

To celebrate both Dante Day or Dantedi and Bloomsday we’ve developed another first, a lovely Irish-Italian collaborative project on Dante Alighieri and James Joyce for young children in both countries. The project is a collaborative concept and initiative of the Museum of Childhood  Ireland and Tortorelle school, Agrigento. 

“Dante to Joyce”- is a joyous, collaborative exploration of JOURNEYS, language, landscape and more, in the literature of Ireland and Italy, for young children. Running since 2023 ( Dante), tomorrow June 12th 2024 sees the conclusion of part two of the project, with a focus on Joyce. The bilingual project was delivered through English and Italian.

Part 1-Dante

Majella McAllister, and Sonia Sartor, in Ireland and Ausilia Venturella, in Italy, delivered the first of the two-part project through English, and Italian in Ireland, and Italian and English in Italy. Afterwards all the Irish and Italian children came together via Zoom to meet and share notes.

The first workshop was a multidisciplinary path to the discovery of Dante for younger  children. 

Why explain Dante to children? 

Dante Alighieri is a central figure in the culture of Italy and the world. His profile ( see  image attached) is very distinctive and well known even to those who have not yet read  his work! 

Italian streets and squares are often named after Dante Alighieri and he is also  represented on the reverse of the Italian two euro coin. 

Dante Alighieri is to Italy, what James Joyce is to Ireland, and whether aware of  it or not, daily life in Italy often includes reference to Dante. It would be so interesting  for children to be familiarised with him from an early age; everyone should be a little  grateful to “uncle” Dante. 

So who was Dante Alighieri? Dante Alighieri was a Florentine poet and scholar who lived between the 13th and 14th  centuries. His full name was Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri. At that time in  Italy not everyone had a surname ( only the most important families had one) and so it was  customary to identify a person by referencing his father as well.

He was born in 1265. We don’t know the exact day, but we celebrate the event between  May 21st and June 21st, as Dante himself kept informing us that he was of the star sign Gemini! 

Dante’s most important work is the Divine Comedy in which he writes about his long  journey. It is considered to be the greatest literary work composed in the Italian  language and a masterpiece of literature. 

Dante is known as “the Father of the Italian language”. In Italy Dante is also known as  “the Supreme Poet” (il Sommo Poeta).  

Dante and the Divine Comedy have been a source of inspiration for artists for almost  seven centuries. 

Part two will be the James Joyce section of the project.

We hope you will be inspired too!

The first part of the project Dante to Joyce is a multidisciplinary path to the discovery of Dante Alighieri land his birthplace Italy, for young children. Specifically, the areas taken into account by this project are:

• DANTE ALIGHIERI: Literature, Culture, History

• LANGUAGE: Storytelling and games help children improve their language skills and acquire a simple vocabulary of the foreign language (Italian or English and Irish)

• SOCIALISATION: Dante to Joyce allows the children to interact with and make friends in other countries.

• GEOGRAPHY: Let us look at Italy and discover more.

Tortorelle School (Agrigento, Sicilia, Italy) and Ballyboy School (County Offaly, Ireland).

Storm Agnes may have been raging outside, but there was a storm of curiosity and creativity within.  We were visiting the wonderful pupils and staff at historic Ballyboy NS, Co Offaly for part one of our ‘Dante to Joyce’ pilot project exploring, and celebrating DanteAlighieri and James Joyce with children in Ireland and Italy. We discussed Dante’s friend Virgilio, the lion, and the stars. Workshops were delivered through English in Ireland ( with introductions to Italian language, food, culture and geography) and through Italian in Italy.

First there was storytelling:

Then, like Dante the children explored a journey they’d like to make, and the companions they would like to have with them on that journey.

They discussed poets, poetry and why Dante wears a laurel crown!

And of course they discussed Italy, the birthplace of Dante, all things Italian, and visiting Italy in the future.

And of course both schools got to ‘meet’ via Zoom.

Enquiries. Please contact: mmcallister@museumofchildhood.ie


Part 2-Joyce

The second part of the project Dante to Joyce is a multidisciplinary path to the discovery of James Joyce and his birthplace Ireland, for young children. We have extended the project this year to a bilingual school in Belluno (Northern Italy). Specifically, the areas taken into account by this project are:

• JAMES JOYCE and BLOOMSDAY: Literature, Culture, History

• LANGUAGE: Storytelling and games help children improve their language skills and acquire a simple vocabulary of the foreign language (Italian or English and Irish)

• SOCIALISATION: Dante to Joyce allows the children to interact with and make friends in other countries.

• GEOGRAPHY: Let us look at Ireland and discover more.

Tortorelle School (Agrigento, Sicilia, Italy); Happy school (Blelluno, Veneto, Italy) and Ballyboy School (County Offaly, Ireland).

For schools part 2 of the project has been structured as follows:

1. Let’s hunt for Dublin Landmarks. 5 items are hidden in the school garden to be found by the children (pictures /photos of James Joyce centre; O’Connell bridge; the National Library; Sandy mount strand, and the James Joyce tower. The landmarks were chosen to prompt discussion about what they represent, and whether they represent the place we live in or a foreign country we would like to someday visit?

2. Let’s find Ireland on the map and talk about this country. Classroom setting: a world wall map and the landmarks ready to be placed on the map or pointed out.

3. Ireland is the birthplace of James Joyce. Who was James Joyce? What is the book Ulysess about? Who was Odysseus? Classroom setting: Information and James Joyce picture or puppet used by the teacher.

4. Storytelling time and drawing. A reading from the book James Joyce Literary Legend by Andrew O’Connor that explains Joyce and his masterpiece Ulysses to young children. From this reading the children will understand that Ulysses is set on one day (June 16 th). The teacher will read few lines from the Lestrygonians chapter in Ulysses:

“He halted again and bought from the old applewoman two Banbury cakes for a penny and broke the brittle paste and threw its fragments down into the Liffey. See that? The gulls swooped silently, two, then all from their heights, pouncing on prey. Gone. Every morsel…he shook the powdery crumb from his hands. They never expected that. Manna.”

After the reading the children are invited to think on their own daily routine and then draw it. The drawings made by the children will be used to create a classroom book.

Follow up: every child will bring home a Banbury cake recipe. The children will be invited to bring to school photos of their bakes, and discuss taste, texture etc.

Banbury cakes, background and recipe:


Banbury Cakes– A tried and tested recipe!


  • 500g puff pastry, chilled
  • 120g brown Demerara sugar 
  • 60g butter 
  • 120g raisins/sultanas
  • 120g currants 
  • 60g candied peel 
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice or a tiny pinch each of cinnamon, cassia, allspice, cardamon seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg
  • 75g white granulated sugar 


  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/ 400*F / gas mark 6. 
  2. Line a flat baking tin with grease proof paper (butter lightly ) or baking parchment.  
  3. Place fruit, spices, peel, butter and demerara sugar in a bowl. 
  4. Use your hands to mix it well together. 
  5. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out your pastry. 
  6. Cut the pastry into nine separate pieces. 
  7. Into the centre of each, place a spoonful of your prepared fruit filling
  8. Bring the corners together over the fruit to meet in the middle, enclosing the fruit, and pinch to close.
  9. Turn them over, lightly flattening them in your hand, then gently with a rolling pin to make them more circular in shape. 
  10. Brush the tops with a little cold water.  
  11. Place the granulated sugar in a wide dish.
  12. Press the tops of each cake into the sugar to coat. 
  13. Place on the baking tray. 
  14. Using a sharp knife, make three diagonal slashes across the top of each cake.
  15. Bake them in the centre of a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  
  16. Allow to cool and then eat! 


A video call with all the children involved in the project: Tortorelle School (Agrigento, Sicilia, Italy); Happy school (Blelluno, Veneto, Italy); Ballyboy School (County Offaly, Ireland).

A CERTIFICATE OF PARTICIPATION is awarded to all the children taking part

joyce-da-colorare DUBLIN-HUNT-CHECKLIST James-Joyce-1

Che cos’è il Bloomsday e perché si festeggia

Il nome della celebrazione deriva da quello del protagonista dell’Ulisse, Leopold Bloom. Anche la data scelta è presa direttamente dal romanzo, i cui eventi si svolgono in un’unica giornata, il 16 giugno 1904. Un giorno che ha un significato importante anche nella vita personale di Joyce, ovvero quello del primo appuntamento con la sua compagna di vita, Nora Barnacle.

I primi festeggiamenti per il Bloomsday risalgono agli anni ‘50, quando un gruppo di scrittori decise di ripercorrere i movimenti del protagonista dell’Ulisse per la città di Dublino dando letture di passi dell’opera. Da allora iniziative letterarie simili a queste si sono ripetute ogni anno, non solo nella capitale irlandese, ma in molte altre parti del mondo

Bloomsday celebrato anche dai ragazzi e dai bambini. A 100 anni dalla pubblicazione dell’Ulisse, lo scrittore irlandese rivive nelle traduzione dei ragazzi e nella rivisitazione dedicata ai più piccoli

What is Bloomsday and why is it celebrated?

The name of the celebration derives from that of the protagonist of Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. Even the date chosen is taken directly from the novel, whose events take place on a single day, 16 June 1904. A day that also had an important meaning in Joyce’s personal life, that of his first date with his partner, Nora Barnacle.

The first Bloomsday celebrations date back to the 1950s, when a group of writers decided to retrace the movements of the protagonist of Ulysses through the city of Dublin, giving readings of passages from the work. Since then, literary initiatives similar to these have been repeated every year, not only in the Irish capital, but in many other parts of the world

Bloomsday for children. 100 years after the publication of Ulysses, the Irish writer lives again in this project of discovery for the children in Ireland and Italy, in a celebration dedicated especially to the little ones

I gatti di Copenhagen”: una storia per bambini di James Joyce

Non tutti sanno che James Joyce, celebrato autore dell’Ulisse, aveva un nipote che adorava, Stephen. Il tema di conversazione comune tra lui e il piccolo Stephen erano proprio i gatti, ed è nella corrispondenza tra i due che sono state reperite le uniche due storie per bambini dell’autore: The cat and the devil e I gatti di Copenhagen.

The Cats of Copenhagen”: a children’s story by James Joyce

Not everyone knows that James Joyce, celebrated author of Ulysses, had a nephew he adored named Stephen. The common topic of conversation between him and little Stephen was cats, and it is in the correspondence between the two that the author’s only two children’s stories were found: The cat and the devil and The cats of Copenhagen.

Il trifoglio

Il trifoglio è uno dei più famosi simboli irlandesi, profondamente legato alla figura di San Patrizio. Il simbolo ufficiale dell’Irlanda è l’arpa celtica, ma anche il trifoglio ha un significato speciale per il popolo irlandese, tanto da essere spesso associato alla verde isola, più della stessa arpa.

Lo shamrock (in irlandese seamróg, “lett. “giovane trifoglio””, IPA [ˈʃamˠɾˠoːɡ]), o trifoglio irlandese, è un simbolo di un ramoscello con tre foglie, strettamente correlato all’Irlanda e alla sua cultura. Benché sia un simbolo informale, lo shamrock è divenuto simbolo dell’Irlanda in tutto il mondo, tanto da essere

 presente anche fuori dall’isola in qualsiasi contesto dove si richiami un retaggio culturale irlandese, soprattutto in ambito sportivo.

The Shamrock

The shamrock is one of the most famous symbols of Ireland, deeply linked to the figure of Saint Patrick. The official symbol of Ireland though is the harp.

The shamrock (Irish seamróg, “lit. “young clover””, IPA [ˈʃamˠɾˠoːɡ]), or Irish shamrock, is a clover with three leaves, and the symbol is closely related to Ireland and its culture. Although an informal symbol, the shamrock has become a symbol of Ireland throughout the world, so much so that it is also used outside the island in any context where Irish cultural heritage is recalled, including on the sporting field.



James Joyce è considerato il maestro del romanzo del “flusso di coscienza”, la stream of consciousness novel, narrazione in forma di monologo interiore che trasmette le sensazioni più profonde dell’io basandosi sui procedimenti “illogici” propri dell’inconscio, della fantasia e del sogno.


James Joyce nasce a Dublino nel 1882 in una famiglia benestante profondamente cattolica. Nella sua formazione hanno un’importanza decisiva gli studi classici  in un Collegio gesuita. Consegue la laurea in letteratura straniera, specializzandosi in francese e in italiano.
Fin dall’adolescenza Joyce si appassiona alla letteratura ed in particolare a due scrittori contemporanei:

  • Ibsen, i cui drammi mettevano a nudo falsità e ipocrisie della vita borghese;
  • Yeats, rappresentante della letteratura nazionalista irlandese, che Joyce conobbe all’università e da cui in seguito prese le distanze.

Studia anche l’Odissea e la Divina Commedia dantesca e comincia ad interessarsi al personaggio di Ulisse.
Il 1904 rappresenta un anno di svolta per Joyce, sia sul piano personale che professionale:

  • Il 16 giugno 1904 (giorno in cui si svolgerà l’epopea di Leopold Bloom nell’Ulisse) Joyce conosce Nora Barnacle che diventa la sua compagna di vita e da cui avrà due figli. 
  • Lascia l’Irlanda per stabilirsi in Europa.
  • Pubblica Musica da camera (Chamber music), libro in versi di ispirazione simbolista, e pianifica due nuovi progetti importanti, i racconti che usciranno anni dopo col titolo Dubliners e il romanzo autobiografico incompiuto Stefano eroe (Stephen hero)


Joyce ha un carattere ribelle, anticonformista ed è molto critico nei confronti della società borghese in cui vive e della chiesa a cui attribuisce l’immobilità spirituale della sua nazione.
Con la moglie Nora Barnacle espatria dall’Irlanda per trasferirsi nel continente. Joyce vuole fuggire dall’ambiente ristretto e dall’educazione cattolica opprimente della patria perché aspira ad una cultura europea più ampia e libera.
Vive a Trieste per dieci anni, facendo traduzioni e dando lezioni private di inglese. Tra i suoi allievi c’è anche, l’ancora sconosciuto, Italo Svevo col quale stringerà amicizia e che incoraggerà a scrivere La coscienza di Zeno, favorendone la divulgazione attraverso i suoi contatti parigini.



James Joyce is considered the master of the “stream of consciousness” novel, a narrative in the form of an interior monologue that transmits the deepest sensations of the ego based on the “illogical” procedures of the unconscious, of fantasy and of the dream.


James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882. Classical studies in a Jesuit college were important in his education. He obtained a degree in foreign literature, specialising in French and Italian. From adolescence Joyce had been passionate about literature and in particular two contemporary writers:

* Ibsen, whose plays exposed the falsities and hypocrisies of bourgeois life;

* Yeats, representative of Irish nationalist literature, whom Joyce met at university and from whom he later distanced himself.

He also studied the Odyssey and Dante’s Divine Comedy and began to take an interest in the character of Ulysses. 1904 represents a turning point for Joyce, both personally and professionally:

* On 16 June 1904 (the day on which Leopold Bloom’s epic Ulysses took place) Joyce met Nora Barnacle who became his life partner and with whom he had two children.

* Leaves Ireland to settle in Europe.

* Publishes Chamber music, a book in verse of symbolist inspiration, and plans two new important projects, the stories that will be released years later with the title Dubliners and the unfinished autobiographical novel Stephen Hero.


Joyce had a rebellious, non-conformist character and was very critical of the bourgeois society in which he lived, and of the church to which he attributed the spiritual immobility of his nation. With his partner Nora Barnacle he left Ireland to move to the continent. Joyce wanted to escape from the restricted environment and oppressive Catholic education of his homeland because he aspired to a broader and freer European culture. He lived in Trieste for ten years, doing translations and giving private English lessons. Among his students there was the still unknown Italo Svevo with whom he become friends and who he encouraged to write The Conscience of Zeno, encouraging its dissemination through his Parisian contacts.



Nel 1914 viene pubblicato Dubliners  (in italiano Dublinesi o Gente di Dublino), raccolta di quindici racconti su Dublino e la vita di Dublino. E’ il ritratto realistico e critico della gente comune di Dublino che fa cose ordinarie e vive vite ordinarie, oppressa dalla religione cattolica e chiusa nel sentimento nazionalistico irlandese, insomma una società provinciale e retriva. In questo romanzo Joyce mette in atto la poetica delle epifanie, ovvero improvvise rivelazioni del senso delle cose, che si svelano in una prospettiva nuova e vera, per un attimo. La narrazione di un frammento di vita insignificante serve a trasmettere il significato dell’intera esistenza del personaggio.
Dubliners è il romanzo che dà a Joyce la fama in Europa.


Nel 1916 Joyce pubblica Portrait of the artista s a young man (noto in Italia come Dedalus, il nome del protagonista) romanzo semi-autobiografico che segue a Stephen hero, tentativo abbandonato di autobiografia. Narra la vita di Stephen Dedalus, dagli iniziali interessi religiosi, le prime esperienze sessuali, all’atteggiamento di rivolta che lo porta a svincolarsi dalle istituzioni religiose e politiche e ad abbandonare l’Irlanda e la famiglia.


All’inizio della prima guerra mondiale Joyce si trasferisce a Zurigo dove inizia la stesura di un romanzo enciclopedico, modellato sull’Odissea di Omero ma in chiave antieroica e realistica, Ulysses (Ulisse), il suo capolavoro pubblicato a Parigi nel 1922, dove Joyce si è trasferito alla fine della guerra.
Nonostante le furiose polemiche e lo scalpore suscitati da quest’opera, Joyce, viene riconosciuto come uno dei massimi scrittori del novecento.


E’ la tecnica che vuole rendere narrativamente i movimenti dell’inconscio e della vita onirica e compare la prima volta nel romanzo Pointed Roofs di Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957), pubblicato nel 1915 e in seguito utilizzato da Virginia Woolf ed in modo più radicale da James Joyce nel suo capolavoro l’Ulisse.
Con Joyce la tecnica viene condotta ai limiti estremi con l’abolizione della punteggiatura e della sintassi per rendere a pieno gli automatismi e la logica associativa dell’inconscio.


Dubliners, a collection of fifteen short stories about Dublin and Dublin life, was published in 1914. It is a realistic and critical portrait of the ordinary people of Dublin who do ordinary things and live ordinary lives, oppressed by the Catholic religion and closed in by Irish nationalistic sentiment – a provincial society. In this novel Joyce implements the poetics of epiphanies, that is, sudden revelations of the meaning of things, which reveal themselves in a new and true perspective, for a moment. The narration of an insignificant fragment of life serves to convey the meaning of the character’s entire existence. Dubliners is the novel that gave Joyce fame in Europe.

DEDALUS/ Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

In 1916 Joyce published Portrait of the Artist as a young man ( known in Italy as Dedalus, the name of the protagonist), a semi-autobiographical novel that followed Stephen Hero, (an abandoned attempt at autobiography). It narrates the life of Stephen Dedalus, from his initial religious interests, his first experiences, to the attitude of revolt that led him to free himself from religious and political institutions and abandon Ireland and his family.


At the beginning of the First World War Joyce moved to Zurich where he began writing an encyclopedic novel, modeled on Homer’s Odyssey but in an anti-heroic and realistic key, Ulysses , his masterpiece. It was published in Paris in 1922, where Joyce had moved at the end of the war. Despite the controversy and sensation caused by this work, Joyce is recognised as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.


It is the technique that aims to narratively convey the movements of the unconscious and dream life and appears for the first time in the novel Pointed Roofs by Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957), published in 1915 and later used by Virginia Woolf, and in a more radical way by James Joyce in his masterpiece Ulysses. With Joyce the technique is taken to its extreme limits with the abolition of punctuation and syntax to fully convey the automatisms and associative logic of the unconscious.


Dal 1920 al 1940 James Joyce vive a Parigi dove lavora ad un nuovo progetto, Finnegans Wake, pubblicato nel 1939, opera sperimentale dalla struttura complessa e dal significato enigmatico. E’ un opera aperta, in divenire, non a caso il suo titolo provvisorio è proprio Work in progress poi cambiato in Finnegans Wake (La veglia di Finnegan). In quest’ultima opera Joyce giunge sino alla destrutturazione completa del linguaggio, che non si basa più sulla logica comunicativa ma solo allusiva di una realtà indecifrabile, ed a una consapevole oscurità espressiva.


Negli ultimi anni della sua vita Joyce soffre di disturbi agli occhi e di problemi familiari dovuti alla malattia mentale della figlia Lucia.
L’invasione della Francia nel 1940 da parte dei nazisti costringe Joyce a riparare nuovamente in Svizzera dove muore, per le conseguenze di una operazione chirurgica, nel 1941 a Zurigo.


From 1920 to 1940 James Joyce lived in Paris where he worked on a new project, Finnegans Wake, published in 1939. It was an experimental work with a complex structure and enigmatic meaning. It is an open work, one in progress, and it is no coincidence that its provisional title was Work in progress, later changed to Finnegans Wake. In this last work Joyce reaches the point of complete de-structuring of language, which is no longer based on communicative logic but only allusive of an indecipherable reality, and on a conscious expressive obscurity.


In the last years of his life Joyce suffered from eye problems and family problems due to the illness of his daughter Lucia. The invasion of France in 1940 by the Nazis forced Joyce to return to Zurich, Switzerland where he died, due to the consequences of a surgical operation, in 1941.

Information on places associated with Joyce

James Joyce Centre

In the early 1900s this beautiful Georgian townhouse at 35 North Great George’s Street was home to a dance academy run by Prof Denis J Maginni, a character who appears a few times in Ulysses. The building was saved from the wrecking ball by a Joyce scholar. Leopold Bloom’s fictional home at 7 Eccles Street wasn’t so lucky, but the front door to the property is on display here. See image below.

Centro James Joyce

All’inizio del 1900 questa bella residenza georgiana al 35 di North Great George’s Street ospitava un’accademia di danza gestita dal Prof Denis J Maginni, un personaggio che compare alcune volte nell’Ulisse. L’edificio fu salvato dalla palla da demolizione da uno studioso di Joyce. La casa immaginaria di Leopold Bloom in 7 Eccles Street non è stata così fortunata, ma la porta d’ingresso della proprietà è in mostra qui.

 O’Connell Bridge

This famous bridge over the River Liffey, built between 1791 and 1794 as the Carlisle Bridge and renamed in 1882 after the Irish political leader Daniel O’Connell, plays a starring role in The Dead, the long final story of Joyce’s Dubliners. The character Gabriel has an epiphany here, realising that he must embrace his country’s quest for independence. In Ulysses, Bloom stops on the bridge to feed the seagulls Banbury cakes (currant-filled pastries similar to Eccles cakes).

Ponte O’Connell

Questo famoso ponte sul fiume Liffey, costruito tra il 1791 e il 1794 come Carlisle Bridge e ribattezzato nel 1882 in onore del leader politico irlandese Daniel O’Connell, ha un ruolo da protagonista in The Dead, la lunga storia finale di Dubliners di Joyce. Il personaggio Gabriel ha un’illuminazione qui, rendendosi conto che deve abbracciare la ricerca di indipendenza del suo paese. Nell’Ulisse, Bloom si ferma sul ponte per dare da mangiare ai gabbiani le torte Banbury (pasticcini ripieni di ribes simili alle torte Eccles).

The National Library

This classical building in Kildare Street, designed by Cork-born Thomas Newenham Deane, dates back to 1877. In the episode Scylla and Charybdis, Stephen – who has just lectured some scholars on his ‘biographical’ theory of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – and Bloom almost meet at the entrance to the library. The coffered ceiling of the main reading room, the stained glass windows, the reliefs and the mosaic floor are worth a visit.

La Biblioteca Nazionale.

Questo edificio classico in Kildare Street, progettato da Thomas Newenham Deane, nato a Cork, risale al 1877. Nell’episodio Scilla e Cariddi, Stephen – che ha appena tenuto una conferenza ad alcuni studiosi sulla sua teoria “biografica” sull’Amleto di Shakespeare – e Bloom quasi incontrarsi all’ingresso della biblioteca. Meritano una visita il soffitto a cassettoni della sala di lettura principale, le vetrate, i rilievi e il pavimento a mosaico


Sandymount Strand ( Dumach Thrá) is a strand situated on the east coast of Ireland, adjacent to the south Dublin suburb of Sandymount.

“Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount beach?” Stephen asks in an early stream-of-consciousness section.

This long, wide beach is the perfect place to clear your head before diving into the labyrinthine novel/city


Sandymount Strand (Dumach Thrá) è una spiaggia situata sulla costa orientale dell’Irlanda, adiacente al sobborgo di Sandymount, a sud di Dublino.

“Sto camminando nell’eternità lungo la spiaggia di Sandymount?” si chiede Stephen in una delle prime sezioni del flusso di coscienza.

Questa lunga e ampia spiaggia è il luogo in cui schiarirsi le idee prima di immergersi nel labirintico romanzo/città

The James Joyce Tower and Museum is a Martello tower in Sandycove, Dublin, where James Joyce spent six nights in 1904. The opening scenes of his 1922 novel Ulysses take place here, and the tower is a place of pilgrimage for Joyce enthusiasts, especially on Bloomsday.


La James Joyce Tower and Museum è una torre Martello a Sandycove, Dublino, dove James Joyce trascorse sei notti nel 1904. Le scene di apertura del suo romanzo Ulisse del 1922 si svolgono qui e la torre è un luogo di pellegrinaggio per gli appassionati di Joyce, soprattutto in Giorno di fioritura.

WHY a DANTE TO JOYCE project for young children?


Dante to Joyce Is  a creative and unpublished proposal of the work of Dante and Joyce, linked virtually from DANTEDI to BLOOMSDAY. A rereading that starts from appropriate language, words and images, which tells of the life, thoughts and works of Dante and Joyce, suitable for children of kindergarten age and the early years of primary school. It is an original collaborative project of the Museum of Childhood Ireland and Tortorelle school, Agrigento, Italy.

‘Reading, listening, observing are valuable stimuli for growing, knowing and developing creativity.’

Is there a correct age to familiarise pupils with Dante and his Divine Comedy or Joyce and his Ulysses?

Obviously no, there is no ‘right’ age, however, there are methodologies and didactic paths which can be structured and reasoned starting from books and illustrated books, paraphrased texts and comics suitable for the various school age groups and there are student readers and writers who approach a literary work with the help of a ‘guide’, a ‘teacher’, who helps them explore the works. We imagine the combination with any literary work (especially if so far from us) as we would a visit to a frescoed cathedral or a museum, when we look up, the images speak to us, the guide explains them, we understand at a first level; there will be time in the future to understand techniques, and cultural substrate, to analyse the repertoire work at several levels. 

You can be a reader without being critical, but you can’t be critical without being a reader.

All the activities carried out, through a simple narrative, lightened by the philosophical and historical parts, have the objective of offering a first approach to the understanding of the cultural and human richness contained in the works of the two great authors.

Methodological ties

Reading the texts aloud is undoubtedly a useful teaching experience to bring children and young people closer to the knowledge of Dante and Joyce. As professor Federico Batini reminds us: “By reading aloud, children and young people are able to fruitfully enjoy texts of a linguistic level higher than they could access through autonomous reading… Reading aloud makes complex ideas more accessible and exposes children to a richer vocabulary and linguistic patterns that are not part of everyday language” (Federico Batini, Aloud, Giunti, 2021).

On orality and reading, “Eric A. Havelock, one of the foremost protagonists in the studies of orality and the civilisation of writing, states that great writers originate from good speakers and in fact it is a virtuous circle that combines spoken and written language. The better you speak, the less effort you will have to read; the less difficult you have with reading, the more pleasant reading will be. So you will read more and in a diversified way (following our instinct to learn, our curiosity and the need to feel more and more competent) the more you read, the richer our vocabulary becomes. We will be able to formulate complex periods and we will have a greater command of language, in essence we will speak better. And so it begins over again.

So why focus attention on verbal stimuli, dialogues, virtuous initiatives and debates for ages zero to five years? 

We are not born with the ability to read. To learn to read we must devote exercise, time and effort to this activity, so that in our brain the circuits necessary to do so are strengthened. 

“He reads first of all those who feel capable of doing so, undertakes to improve those who believe they can succeed, become a strong reader who experience the experience of flow” (B. Eleuteri, The Teenager and the Book. A proposal for a qualitative motivational survey, in Libraries Today, vol. XXXVII July-August 2019, p. 8-16.)

Philosophy for children, conceived by an American professor, Lipman, in the USA, around the mid-seventies of the twentieth century believes the aim of the didactic-pedagogical objective is to increase complex cognitive abilities, linguistic-expressive and social skills. It is a kind of philosophical curriculum, because it deals with everyday existential problems, pedagogical, as it builds complex and democratic thinking skills, and didactic, because it sets up a working method by transforming the class into a research community and the teacher into a facilitator of learning. ‘We start from the reading of specific texts, on which the teacher then builds a ”discussion”: a very useful source for insights and materials can be found here:’


I think it is useful to recommend for the understanding of the texts read, in particular for the poetic ones, the methodology of the pedagogy of expression that uses the technique of mìmesis (from the Greek mimeomai = imitate, represent mimando): to make oneself similar in voice and / or gesture to someone or something. This method, practical and functional, makes the pupils actors and protagonists of a learning process that starts from the body: the teacher reads a text aloud and asks the pupils to express with the body what those words arouse. So mind and body participate together in a path that facilitates the internalisation of values and the expression of personal creative energy, while also facilitating textual understanding. To learn more, I recommend the text edited by prof. Gilberto Scaramuzzo, professor of General Pedagogy and director of the master’s degree in Expression Pedagogy at the University of Rome Tre, Mimopaideia Good practises for a pedagogy of expression, Anicia, 2011.

Working with images, from kindergarten, primary to secondary school, communicating figurative and literary language, is an appealing and engaging method for students who can use the illustrations that accompany the chosen books to better explain the concepts and ask to represent figuratively what has been learned, stimulating the imagination (for primary students). 

For any secondary school students engaging with this project it should be possible to compare the verses of the Comedy with the works of various painters, from miniature codices (code Ms Hegerton 943), to the portraits of Füssli and William Blake of Count Ugolino and Paolo and Francesca or to the representation of Pia de ‘Ptolomei by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

For Joyce, it might be interesting to explore: UvA-DARE (Digital Academic Repository) Joyce in Art: Visual Art Inspired by James Joyce. Lerm-Hayes, C.M. Publication date 2004. Document Version. Final published version. Link to publication. Citation for published version (APA): Lerm-Hayes, C. M. (2004). Joyce in Art: Visual Art Inspired by James Joyce. Liliput Press.


The educational value of literature

If it is true, as Daniel Taylor argues, that everyone is the product of the stories he has listened to, lived and not lived, then it is important that educational and training contexts give space to a quality narrative that can accompany the individual on his or her growth path. The fable, and in general the narrative, come to be configured as an adequate space-time in which to build one’s vision and knowledge and in which to experience one’s self within a protected context; it is an environment that, as the psychologist and pedagogist G. argues. Petter, plays a very important role in the psychological and cognitive development of the child, particularly on aspects of language, the emotional-affective sphere and sociality.

Narrative Pedagogy: The Benefits of Storytelling in Childhood

Narrative pedagogy has often been underestimated and connected to the simple functional concept of ‘learning to read’, without taking into account all the transversal and cognitive implications that such practice can induce in children (Bartoli, 2020).

The narrative is defined by psychologist Bruner as the ‘mode of organising the experience’ and it allows children to develop emotional intelligence, empathy, language, communication and soft skills. So, thanks to it, the child has the chance to discover and get to know the world around him but also to become an active co-builder from childhood (Bruner, 1999).

In fact, the child described by the psychologist is defined as a “narrative child” because thanks to the narrative there is a social interaction that allows the development of the child.

But so is the narration only facilitated by reading? The answer is no; the psychologist Piaget represents the development of the child and argues that from the age of two the child through the symbolic function manages to develop the imitative ability. As a result, the game and all categories of thought come into operation and are closely related to the narration and production of meanings (Liverta Sempio, 1998). The narrative becomes a fundamental protagonist in the development of children from the first years of life. The beneficial effects it brings in and for the child’s growth are countless.

Specifically, the areas that are taken into account by education professionals are:

• Learning;

• The attachment

• Autonomy

• Emotionality/feelings

• Fantasy and creativity

• Language

• Socialisation.

. Geography

. Culture and Heritage

Storytelling plays an important role in both the home and school spheres. For the latter, the Miur argues that ‘direct experience, play, proceeding by trial and error, allow the child, appropriately guided, to deepen and systematise learning’. Activities in the school environment are organised on the basis of fields of experience that offer opportunities for children’s direct experiences. Among the fields of experience there is also the one that concerns speeches and words, as well as narration. It is taken into account in its entirety, the child has the opportunity to experiment, to communicate, tell, describe and imagine (Miur, 2012).

Further elements of the Dante to Joyce project explore geographical and language knowledge, heritage and cultural awareness, empathy, friendship building, and strengthening of ties between Ireland and Italy.

Dante to Joyce with:

Ausilia Venturella, Sonia Sartor and Majella McAllister.

Find some wonderful resources to support the introduction of Dante and Joyce to young audiences here:

Have you ever gone on a very long trip that did not turn out as planned? Find out about one of the most famous journeys, full of unexpected events, taken by a man named Odysseus in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey.




Contact: mmcallister@museumofchildhood.ie