Academic Programs and Support

A "Primo Colloquio" (First Colloquium), featuring sixteen leading scholars from the humanities faculties of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Rome "La Sapienza" took place in Rome, Italy June 4-5, 2007. The meeting, which was held in the chapel of the historic Villa Mirafiori (seat of the Department of philosophy) was co-sponsored by the Devers Program in Dante Studies, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies of the University of Notre Dame, and by the Facoltà di scienze umanistiche (College of Arts and Letters) of the University of Rome. The goal of the meeting was to begin to establish research relations between faculty and students in the humanities at Notre Dame and the University of Rome, as well as in anticipation of Notre Dame's establishment of a humanities center in Rome.

The meeting was introduced by Roberto Antonelli, Dean of the Facoltà di scienze umanistiche, University of Rome, Piero Boitani, Chairperson of the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Rome, and Theodore Cachey, Chairperson of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and Director of the Devers Program in Dante Studies, University of Notre Dame. Participating scholars from the University of Notre Dame, who presented on "work in progress" were:

  • Keith Bradley, Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Professor of Classics
  • Joseph Buttigieg, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English
  • Theodore Cachey, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Margaret Doody, John and Barbara Glynn Family Professor of Literature
  • Maud Ellmann, Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies
  • Vittorio Hösle, Paul Kimball Professor of Arts and Letters
  • Sabine MacCormack, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. Professor of Arts and Letters
  • Christian Moevs, Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures

The program covered an interdisciplinary range of topics, which were organized in groupings dedicated respectively to:

  • Comparative Literature: Roberto Antonelli, "The Future of European Literature," Margaret Doody, "Literature, Culture, and Passion," Piero Boitani, "Water Literature";
  • Classics: Keith Bradley, "Apuleius and Jesus," Alessandro Schiesaro, "Furthest Voices in Virgil's Dido";
  • History: Sabine MacCormack, "Jose de Acosta, S.J., in Rome," Silvana Pelosi, "Nuovo Mondo e la plenitudo gentium nel pensiero di Anotino Vieira";
  • Philosophy and Cultural Studies: Joseph Buttigieg, "Gramsci, filologia e cultural studies," Vittorio Hösle, "Che cos'è un dialogo filosofico?" Tullio De Mauro, "La nozione della cultura in Gramsci";
  • Irish Studies: Maud Ellmann, "The Irish Romunculus," Joan Fitzgerald: "Grandad, Pound, Joyce and the Nobel Prize";
  • Italian Studies: Christian Moevs, "Poesia e rivelazione in Dante," Roberto Mercuri, "Spazio e tempo in Dante, Petrarca e Boccaccio," and Theodore Cachey, "Tra Dante e Petrarca."

The Devers Program also sponsored a meeting during the Fall term, on October 11, 2006, dedicated to the discussion of "Work in Progress" by scholars working in the Italian Studies area at Notre Dame. This meeting was co-sponsored by the Demergasso Family Fund for Excellence in Italian Studies, the Medieval Institute, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Ph.D. in Literature Program, and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and featured the following panels and papers:

I. Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature and Culture:Zygmunt G. Baranski - University of Cambridge / Romance Languages, Notre Dame: "Epicurus in the Middle Ages and Medieval (Italian) Literary Historiography"; Andrea Robiglio - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano / Medieval Institute, Notre Dame: "Nobility as Recognition in Dante"; Chiara Sbordoni - Università di Roma / Romance Languages, Notre Dame: "Lo stile epistolare amoroso nell'Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta: Boccaccio tra Ovidio e Dante. Proposte di ricerca"; Piotr Salwa - University of Warsaw / Romance Languages, Notre Dame: "La novella politica dopo Boccaccio."

II. Modern Italian Literature and Culture I: Maurizio Albahari - Erasmus Institute, Notre Dame: "Politics of Migration and Religion, Made in Italy"; Philip Balma - Indiana University / Romance Languages, Notre Dame: "Reflections on the Life and Work of Edith Bruck"; Pierpaolo Polzonetti - Program in Liberal Studies, Notre Dame: "Da Ponte and Soler's La capricciosa corretta (1795), or the Taming of the Shrew in the Age of Terror."

III. Modern Italian Literature and Culture II: Joseph Buttigieg - Dept. of English / Ph.D. in Literature, Notre Dame: "The Critical Edition of Gramsci's Prison Notebooks"; Colleen Ryan-Scheutz - Romance Languages, Notre Dame: "Desiring Subjects: Feminism and Femininity in Contemporary Italian Cinema"; Theodore Cachey - Romance Languages, Notre Dame: "From Opera to Silent Cinema: Enrico Caruso in 'My Cousin' (1918)."

The Program continued its Distinguished Visiting Professor series with the appointment of Professor Zygmunt G. Barański, Serena Professor of Italian and Head of the Department of Italian in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years.

The Program supported the graduate studies of Mr. Luca Benedetto Cottini of Milan Italy, who completed the M.A. degree in Italian Studies and graduated in May 2007. Mr. Cottini was accepted to the doctoral program in Italian Studies at Harvard University where he will be continuing his graduate studies in the fall of 2007.

Chiara Sbordoni, a 2006 Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature from the Università La Sapienza in Rome, is the current post-doctoral fellow. At Notre Dame Sbordoni has taught "Introduction to Medieval and Renaisance Italian Literature", "Textual Analysis" (twice), and "Italian Language". She will be teaching "Dante I" and "Textual Analysis" in Fall 2007.

Sbordoni's dissertation, which she is revising and expanding for publication, is the first comprehensive catalogue and study of fictional letters found in texts of all the main literary genres of Italian literature from the 14th century to the end of the 16th century. Besides epistolography, she is interested in the impact of literary models from the classical tradition on medieval authors such as Dante and Boccaccio and has worked on the influence of Ovid on Boccaccio's Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta.She published an article on the relationship between Dante's Comedy and St. John's Apocalypse.

Justin Steinberg, 2002-2003 Devers Program Post-Doctoral Fellow, was recently awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago.

The Devers Program continued its support of Notre Dame's TEACHERS as SCHOLARS (TAS) Program. The TAS program at the University of Notre Dame is a professional development program for K-12 teachers in collaboration with School City of Mishawaka, South Bend Community School Corporation, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Schools, Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, John Glenn School Corporation, and Union-North United School Corporation. TAS was brought to Notre Dame in 2000 by Julia Douthwaite, then associate dean of Arts and Letters, and Theodore Cachey, professor of Romance languages and literature. It was funded initially by a grant from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Scholarly Publication

Volume 8 in the Devers series appeared in the Fall of 2006. Accounting for Dante: Urban Readers and Writers in Late Medieval Italy by Justin Steinberg of the University of Chicago had been awarded the 2005 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies of the Modern Languages Association.

Volume 9 in the Devers Series, scheduled to appear in 2007, will be Prof. Winthrop Wetherbee's The Ancient Flame: Dante as a Classical Poet. Wetherbee is a senior scholar of medieval literature who teaches at Cornell University. His book fills an important lacuna within Dante studies by providing the first exhaustive and authoritative investigation of the presence and treatment of classical auctores in Dante's Commedia. Although in the past other scholars have offered valuable insights into the literary relationship established by Dante with Virgil or Ovid — less so with Lucan or Statius — none had ventured before to consider the role that all four "bella scola" poets played in the composition of Dante's "poema sacro".

Internet Research and Development

The Devers Program has continued its support of the ItalNet project. Our agreement with the founding members of the consortium, the ARTFL project of the University of Chicago, the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano (OVI), Florence, Italy, and the Italian Studies Program of the University of Reading (U.K.) was renewed during 2004-2005 for another five year period. Through this collaboration, a year-long internship at the Italian national dictionary project for a graduate student in the Ph.D. in Literature Program and the Italian Studies Program, Mr. Charles Leavitt, was organized for the 2005-2006 academic year. Leavitt remained in Italy and continued his internship during the 2006-2007 academic year.

This represented the continuation of the internship program that was inaugurated in 2003-2004 with James Kriesel, a Ph.D. student in the Medieval Institute, who during his stint at the OVI authored seventeen credited dictionary entries as a part of this internship. Kriesel was in Italy during 2006-2007 researching his dissertation: "Boccaccio's First and Second Friend: Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio's Synthesis of Vernacular and Latin Poetics."

Rare Book Acquisitions

A list of works purchased during the 2006-2007 academic year is available here.