Spotlight on ‘Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding’

We take a closer look at this two-part course taught by Vittorio Montemaggi in Fall 2016, which saw our students venture as far as Jerusalem.

Vittorio Montemaggi taught Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding at the London Global Gateway in Fall 2016. Focusing on the history of relations between Judaism and Christianity, the two-part course saw students connect the skills required for literary interpretation and the virtues appropriate for inter-religious dialogue. 

Both classes included a significant travel component, bringing to life the study of texts including Scripture, Dante’s Commedia, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man

Thanks to a Nanovic Institute Learning Beyond the Classroom Grant, students in ‘Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding I’ were able to make three important trips over the course of the semester. Read about their travels to:


The second part of ‘Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding’ took place at the Jerusalem Global Gateway in the week after finals, funded by Notre Dame International and the College of Arts and Letters

As well as considering relations between Jews and Christians, ‘Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding II’ explored Islamic religion, culture, and history. The week-long course provided students with a challenging and inspiring set of experiences and perspectives, deepening their understanding of interconnections between the three Abrahamic faiths and their significance in today’s world. 

Organized in collaboration with the Jerusalem Global Gateway’s Academic Director and Program Director, Robert Smith and Karis Ailabouni, the week’s activities included:

  • Guided visits to the Old City and other significant locations in and around Jerusalem
  • Participation in a Scriptural Reasoning symposium on the topic of “memory” organized by the Three Faiths Forum 
  • Meetings with distinguished speakers including Professor Gary Anderson, Fr. Jamal Khader, and Dr. Debbie Weissman 
  • Attending a Shabbat service at Yedidya Synagogue and Shabbat meals with host families
  • Meeting with Palestinian young adults at the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center in Bethlehem 

With its impressive itinerary and connections with three Global Gateways (London, Rome, Jerusalem), ‘Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding’ exemplifies Notre Dame’s international presence and the scope of its offering to students.  

Read more about Notre Dame’s study abroad opportunities in London and beyond.  

Students in ‘Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding II’ visit the Old City of Jerusalem
Students in ‘Literature and Inter-Religious Understanding II’ visit the Old City of Jerusalem



Originally published by Rina Buznea at on February 14, 2017.