1998-1999

Academic Programs and Support

The Devers Program's annual Fall series entitled "Diversely Dante" was dedicated to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the poet and his works.

  • Rachel Jacoff of Wellesley College spoke on "Dante and the Maternal Sublime" (September 3); the lecture was co-sponsored by Genders Studies.

  • Dennis Looney of the University of Pittsburgh spoke on "Dante in Black and White: Moments in the African-American Reception of the Divine Comedy" (Oct. 8); the lecture was co-sponsored by African-American Studies.

  • Steven Botterill of the University of California, Berkeley spoke on "Linguistic Ideal and Social Reality: From the De vulgari eloquentia to Inferno" (Nov. 12); the lecture was co-sponsored by the Medieval Institute.

The afternoon lectures were followed the next morning by informal seminars offered by the visiting scholars.

During the spring the Devers Program sponsored the second in its series of credit-bearing compact-seminars dedicated to the examination of Dante's minor works. These seminars are offered by distinguished visiting scholars. This year's seminar, offered by Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta, Dilley Professor of Italian Language and Literature at Yale University, focused on the Fiore, a poem attributable to Dante. The seminar was entitled "Dante: Vices and the Quest for Virtue"and was held March 16-25 in the Department of Special Collections. Professor Mazzotta also gave two very well-attended public lectures, "The Language of Fraud in Lower Hell" (March 16, co-sponsored by the Devers Program and the Medieval Institute) and "Dante Between Bonaventure and Aquinas" (March 25, co-sponsored by the Devers Program and the Department of Theology).

Additional events co-sponsored by the Devers Program this year were:

The Program continued to support the teaching of Dante "across the curriculum" by offering its annual Dante course for the third year in a row; by its support of the teaching of Dante in the Core Course; and by its organization of lectures and tours of rare Dante materials held in the Zahm Dante collection in the Department of Special Collections.

Finally, the Devers Program continues to provide small grants of support for graduate level research in Dante Studies and related areas. During '98-'99 the Devers Program was pleased to support the research of Joy Antoinette Shroeder, a graduate students in theology, by assisting her with travel expenses associated with dissertation research she was conducting in Italy on Italian medieval theological literature. Dr. Shroeder recently defended her dissertation "Sacred Space and Sacred Time in the Religious Experience of Angela of Foligno." The Devers Program also partially supported the travel of a graduate student in Italian Studies, Giuseppe Gazzola, who delivered academic papers at a graduate student conferences held at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Scholarly Publication

The Devers Series in Dante Studies published its third volume and its first critical monograph during the spring: Marc Cogan's The Design in the Wax: the Structure of the Divine Comedy and its Meaning. Cogan's book treats a topic, the underlying ethical structure of the poem, that has been too long taken for granted. The work is distinguished by its comprehensiveness and clarity as well as by its penetration regarding some notoriously difficult issues—like the nature of heresy in Dante, to give one example.

The Devers Program organized and sponsored the formal presentation of the volume at a special panel at the annual meeting of the American Association of Italian Studies held in Eugene, Oregon (April 1999). Approximately sixty scholars participated in the discussion, including several members of the international advisory board for the Devers Series who were at the meeting. Professor Cogan presented a brief overview of his theses to which Professor Stephen Botterill of the University of California, Berkeley responded. There followed a very lively discussion and debate.


Internet Research and Publications

During the course of 1998-99 more than three hundred scholars from around the world registered with the project to use Opera del Vocabolario Italiano (OVI) textual database, an ItalNet consortium project sponsored in part by the Devers Program. During the beginning of 1998 and continuing through the summer and fall of 1999, the database underwent an update which involved the addition of a couple hundred new texts and a complete revision of the access system, to bring the database into conformity with other databases run under the PhiloLogic access system which has been developed by ARTFL out of the University of Chicago.

New and continuing ItalNet projects include: a collaboration with the Dartmouth Dante project to develop a web accessible version of the Dartmouth Dante Project; the development of a new Franco-Italian database project; the expansion and improvement of the ItalNet sponsored publication of the International Gramsci Society Newsletter; and the continued support of the Ambrosiana Drawings Project.The Franco-Italian textbase project was presented and discussed by Dr. Christian Dupont in a special panel at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studiesin Kalamazoo, MI (May 1999).

The Devers Program continued to provide support for the teaching of the Italian language at the University in the form of the development of an innovative video-based courseware package, which was tested extensively during the year in the context of three intermediate Italian language and culture courses.


Rare Book Acquisitions

A list of works purchased during the 1998-1999 academic year is available here.