Academic Programs and Support

The Devers program's fourth annual Fall series was dedicated this year to the theme, "Dante and Modern Italian Poetry":

  • Professor Dennis Dutschke of the University of California, Davis spoke on "Uncovering Dante in Petrarch" (Sept. 23).

  • Professor Andrea Ciccarelli of Indiana University spoke on "Experimentalism vs. Traditionalism: Dante and Modern Italian Poetry" (Oct. 14).

  • Professor Rebecca West of the University of Chicago spoke on "The Other Woman in Dante's and Montale's Poetic Itineraries" (Nov. 11).

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

During the Spring of 2000 the Devers Program sponsored the third in its series of credit-bearing compact seminars dedicated to the examination of Dante's minor works. This year's Devers Visiting Professor, Teodolinda Barolini, Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University, offered a seminar on "Dante's Lyric Poetry: Le rime" during the week following Spring break (March 20-24) in the Department of Special Collections. Professor Barolini is currently preparing an edition and commentary of Dante's Rime and provided an intensive (not to say gripping) comprehensive reading of the collection. She generously made herself available to faculty and students, including Ph.D. students in the Medieval Institute with whom she discussed their work. Professor Barolini also gave a public lecture entitled "Desire and Death, or Francesca and Guido Cavalcanti: Inferno 5 in its Lyric Context" on March 20.

The Devers Program also co-sponsored:

  • with the Medieval Institute a lecture by Professor Salvatore Camporeale of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University's Villa I Tatti on "Lorenzo Valla and the Donation of Constantine" (March 1);

  • with the Italian section of the Department of Romance Languages a lecture by Professor Paolo Giordano of Loyola University, Chicago on Italian-American literature on the occasion of the annual Italian Studies award program (April 26);

  • with the Department of Theology a lecture by Professor Peter Hawkins of Yale University entitled "Figlia del tuo figlio: Dante's Marian Christology" (April 27).

The Devers Program continued to support the teaching of Dante "across the curriculum" by its support of the annual Dante course offered by the Department of Romance Languages and taught by Professors Cachey and Moevs for the fourth year in a row; by its support of teaching about 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.

The Devers Program also continued to provide small grants of support for graduate level research in Dante studies and related areas. During 1999-2000 the Program was pleased to support the summer research in Italy of Kari Kloos, a graduate student in the History of Christianity Program.

The Devers Program's academic goal of establishing Notre Dame as a leading national and international center for the study of Dante is complemented by its commitment to enhancing the quality of local intellectual and spiritual life both within and without the University's walls. To this end, the Devers Program spearheaded the establishment of a pilot site at Notre Dame of the national Teacher as Scholars initiative and offered a seminar within the context of this program "Dante's Inferno: Instructions for Use." Finally, the Devers Program co-sponsored both the Dante 2000 conference organized by the Dante Society of America at Columbia University on April 7-9 and the Third International Dante Seminar held in Florence on June 9-11, 2000.

Scholarly Publication

The Devers Series in Dante Studies, edited by Professors Cachey and Moevs, published its fourth volume, The Fiore (and the Detto d'amore): a 13th century Italian translation of the Roman de la Rose attributable to Dante by Santa Casciani and Christopher Kleinhenz. This volume is the first English translation of the Fiore, a sequence of over 250 sonnets, which has been the focus of intense debate over the last several years both for the question of its attribution to Dante and for its critical collocation within the context of early Romance lyric poetry.

In 1997 the series published a volume dedicated to the attribution question (vol. II:The Fiore in Context: Dante, France, Tuscany, eds. Barański and Boyde) which has been received as a landmark contribution to the field. The Kleinhenz and Casciani translation represents an ideal sequel to this earlier title.

Internet Research and Publications

The principal accomplishment in this area during the 1999-2000 academic year was the release of a major upgrade of the search engine software for the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano textbase of Italian vernacular sources. The search engine software used to support this project is the PhiloLogic system developed by Mark Olsen of the ARTFL Project at the University of Chicago. PhiloLogic version 2.0 was tested on several ARTFL databases last year and in the spring of 2000 the OVI database was rebuilt to take advantage of its enhanced retrieval and reporting capabilities, including the display of line numbers and organic textual references, improved treatment of diacritics and the hiding of certain types of extra-textual data from search indexing.

In February 2000, an Italian version of the Ambrosiana Drawings Project Web site was created in conjunction with the Biblioteca Ambrosiana. Both the Italian and English versions are now linked to the official Web site of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana. An additional 500 records were added to the database in May, bringing the total number of cataloged drawings to 5,825.

The Web-based Progetto Italica video language courseware package developed by the Devers Program in collaboration with RAI International continued to be used in first and second level Italian language courses at Notre Dame throughout the year. Mirror sites were also established at York University in Toronto and Middlebury College in Vermont so that faculty and students at these institutions could more easily access courseware content. Additional self-correcting grammatical exercises were added to project at the end of last spring and more are planned for the coming fall, together with updates of information contained in the cultural resource pages.

Rare Book Acquisitions

An important part of the mandate of the Devers Program since its inception has been the purchase of rare materials for the Zahm Dante Collection of the University Libraries. A formal program of acquisitions was initiated during the 1999-2000 academic year focusing on rare materials pertinent to the strengths of the Zahm collection with a special emphasis on Renaissance editions of Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch as well as materials related to the history of the Italian Language which was codified during the Renaissance on the basis of the classic works of these authors. This collection strategy develops a niche for Notre Dame's collections vis-à-vis those of other major libraries in the Midwest including Chicago, Newberry Library, IU, and the University of Michigan and complements well other collections currently held by the University like the Ambrosiana microfilm collection and the Durand collection which also includes a strong representation of late Medieval and Renaissance Italian literary texts.

A list of works purchased during the 1999-2000 academic year is available here.