Academic Programs and Support

The Devers Program's fifth annual lecture series illustrated the theme, "Dante Across the Curriculum":

  • Professor Piero Boitani, Visiting Fulbright Professor in the Medieval Institute from the Dipartimento di Anglistica, Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza," spoke on "Moby Dante?" (Sept. 20); Professor Boitani's lecture was co-sponsored by the Department of English.

  • Professor Gary Cestaro of DePaul University spoke on "Dante's Queer Nature" (Oct. 31); Cestaro's lecture was co-sponsored by the Gender Studies Program.

  • Professor Manuele Gragnolati of Dartmouth College spoke on "Eschatologies on Immortality and Resurrection: Somatized Soul and Glorified Body in Dante's Comedy" (Dec. 6); Professor Gragnolati's talk was co-sponsored by the Department of Theology.

All of the lectures were followed by informal seminars offered by the visiting scholars the morning following the lecture. During the Spring of 2001 the Devers Program hosted Professor John Scott from the University of Western Australia, who spoke on "Dante – Time & Eternity (Par. 31 32)" (Apr. 26).

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 offered for the fifth year in a row (taught by Professor Christian Moevs during 2000-2001); and by its support of the teaching of Dante in the Core Course. Professor Moevs continued the tradition of Italian faculty conducting a special seminar for Core faculty on teaching the poem. Dr. Christian Dupont, Curator for Special Collections continued the tradition of introducing students in Core to the rare books and illustrated volumes of the poem in the Zahm Dante Collection.

An important new initiative was successfully conceived and launched: the co-sponsorship of a post-doctoral fellowship in Dante and Italian Studies in collaboration with the Core course. Dr. John Kerr, a 2001 University of Notre Dame Ph.D. in Medieval Studies, was appointed the first post-doctoral fellow in Dante and Italian Studies for the 2001-2002 academic year.

The Devers Program collaborated with the Albert Ravarino Italian Studies Travel Scholarship program by contributing to the support of graduate students studying in Italy during the summer (under the category of Devers Dante graduate research travel award program). The Devers Program contributed to the support of three graduate students: Aileen Feng (Masters program in Italian Studies), Kate Hennessey (Ph.D. program in English/Irish Studies), and Erika Schutte (Masters program in Art History).

The Devers Program initiated a Travel Grant for graduate students and scholars from other institutions interested in participating in our seminars and lectures. The Program partially supported Tamara Pollack, a graduate student from Indiana University at Bloomington working on a dissertation on Dante, who attended two of the lectures/seminars during the fall and Professor Scott's lecture in the spring.

The Devers Dante Program initiated a Devers Travel to Collections grant supporting work of visiting scholars in the Italian Studies area interested in using the rare materials in Special Collections and/or the Ambrosiana microfilm holdings. The Dante Program supported the visit to Notre Dame of Professor Francesco Sberlati of the University of Bologna, who continued his work on a short list of Italian literary manuscripts in the Ambrosiana, continuing work he began during his tenure as Visiting Fulbright Professor during the spring of 1997. Professor Sberlati also gave a seminar on Manzoni in the context of Professor Christian Moevs' Spring semester course on Manzoni.

The Devers Dante Program was pleased to support the visit of a distinguished visiting scholar and friend of the Devers Program, Professor Zygmunt Barański, (recently appointed Serena Professor of Italian at Cambridge). During his visit, Baranski gave a seminar in the context of Professor Moevs' Dante II course, served as external reviewer and examiner on John Kerr's Ph.D. thesis and defense, provided editorial consultation regarding the Devers Series in Dante Studies, and participated in planning meetings for the International Dante Seminar.

The Devers Program continued its support for research into the history and significance of the Zahm Dante Collection at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Christian Dupont, Curator of Special Collections, was engaged in extensive research into the origins of the Zahm Dante Collection at Notre Dame and its relation to Dante collecting by other American institutions at the end of the nineteenth century. In March 1999, Dupont was contacted by Stefania Acquaticci, a descendent of Giulio Acquaticci, from whom John Zahm, C.S.C. had purchased a nearly complete series of fifteenth and sixteenth century imprints of the Divine Comedy in 1902. Ms. Acquaticci had learned about the Notre Dame collection through the internet publication of Notre Dame's online exhibit “Renaissance Dante in Print.” Dupont was subsequently invited to present a paper on the Dante collecting activities of Giulio Acquaticci and John Zahm at a conference on the history of the Acquaticci family organized under the auspices of several Italian cultural agencies and with the honorary patronage of the President of Italy. The Devers Program sponsored Dupont's travel as well as that of Professor Christian Moevs, who was invited to lecture on Acquaticci's Dante scholarship. The conference "Quei battenti sempre aperti—Gli Acquaticci di Treia e la cultura marchigiana" was held in the historic city hall of Treia on 4 November 2000. More than a hundred people attended the day's events, which included musical and dramatic performances.

Dupont was subsequently invited by Michael Winship of the Bibliographical Society of America to give a presentation on "Collecting Dante in American at the End of the Nineteenth Century" as part of the New Scholars Panel at the Society's annual meeting in New York on 26 January 2001. An expanded version of his paper focusing specifically on the formation of the Zahm Dante Collection will appear in the December 2001 issue of the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America.

Internet Research and Publications

Several electronic initiatives fostered by the Devers Program and ItalNet consortium were enhanced during the last year under the supervision of Dr. Christian Dupont, Curator of Special Collections. The internet publication of the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano (OVI) database of early Italian vernacular texts, the fruit of a collaboration between the Devers Dante Program, the Centro Nazionale delle Ricerche Opera del Vocabolario Italiano in Florence, Italy and the ARTFL Project at the University of Chicago, was expanded to include an additional 88 texts, bringing the total number of full-text searchable documents to 1,498. In addition, significant improvements in the document and bibliographic coding schemes were tested and released in November 2000. In March 2001, a copy of the database was installed on a server at the OVI headquarters in the Accademia della Crusca in Florence, where it will be configured to support paid subscriptions from users outside North America in the future; at such time, North American users will receive access to the database through a personal or institutional ARTFL subscription. In June 2001 the Sun Sparc30 workstation purchased by the Devers Program in 1998 was upgraded in preparation for the installation of a local copy of the OVI database specifically for Notre Dame users.

In March 2001, a survey of the more than 550 then registered users (the number has since exceeded 700) was conducted to investigate how scholars have employed the database in support of their research and to document where results obtained from its use have been published. More than forty users responded, and the results were very encouraging: scholars throughout the world and from a wide variety of fields—e.g. literature, linguistics, economics, music, art history—have consulted the database in the course of preparing lectures, essays and critical textual editions. Drawing on a sample of the responses received which illustrate different search strategies, Dr. Dupont offered a live demonstration of the OVI database at the annual meeting of the American Association of Italian Studies in Philadelphia on 21 April 2001. Dupont has since been invited to contribute an article on the project to the December 2001 issue of Italica, the journal of the American Association of Teachers of Italian.

The Ambrosiana Drawings Project, whose internet publication is another fruit of the Italnet Consortium, has also recently benefited from an upgrade and other enhancements. In April 2001, Professor Randy Coleman delivered nearly a thousand more records to the online catalog, bringing the total number of entries to 6,725. At the same time the database structure was modified to incorporate the display of graphical images of transliterated Greek inscriptions, which appear on some of the drawings. Newsletter 11 of the International Gramsci Society edited by Professor Joseph Buttigieg of the Department of English and which is also hosted and organized by ItalNet was published on the IGS Web site in May.

Rare Book Acquisitions

A list of works purchased during the 2000-2001 academic year is available here.