Academic Programs and Support

During the Fall semester the Devers Program in Dante Studies organized and co-sponsored together with the Medieval Institute and the Departments of Romance Languages and Literatures and Theology an international seminar on "Dante and the Contemplative Tradition." The seminar featured:

  • an opening lecture by Denys Turner, Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology, Yale Divinity School on "Reason, Poetry and Theology: 'Vernacularity' in Dante and Aquinas," held Wednesday November 7, 2007 in the Department of Special Collections;

and lectures held Thursday November 15, 2007 in the Department of Special Collections and in the Medieval Institute:

  • by Christian Moevs, Associate Professor of Romance Languages, University of Notre Dame on "God Alone Surpasses the Soul: Dante and Augustine'sDe quantitate animae";
  • by Matthew Treherne, Lecturer in Italian, University of Leeds on "Contemplation and the Created World in the Commedia";
  • by Vittorio Montemaggi, Junior Research Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge University on "Contemplation and Charity in the Commedia";
  • and by Zygmunt Baranski, Serena Professor of Italian, Cambridge University, and 2007-08 Ravarino Family Distinguished Visiting Professor in Italian Studies, University of Notre Dame: on "Between Laus and Vituperatio: Doctrine in Paradiso 27-29."

In addition, the Devers Program organized several co-sponsored lectures and seminars, including:

  • A lecture by Gary Ferguson, Professor of French, University of Delaware,"Italian Models/Italian Vices: Marguerite de Navarre and Boccaccio," held Monday, December 3, 2007 in Department of Special Collections, co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the Ph.D. in Literature Program.
  • A lecture by Vittorio Montemaggi, University of Cambridge, "The theological language of Dante's Commedia," held Friday, February 15, 2008 in the Department of Special Collections, and co-sponsored by the Religion and Literature Program, and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.
  • A seminar by Claudio Giunta, University of Trento, "A New Commentary on Dante's Rime, that is, the Difference Between Medieval and Modern Poetry," held Wednesday, April 23 in the Department of Special Collections and co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages.

Graduate student support

The Program supported during AY 2007-2008 the graduate studies of Ms. Giulia Cardillo of Rome, Italy, in the form of a MA graduate teaching assistantship. Cardillo completed the M.A. degree in Italian Studies and graduated in May 2008. Ms. Cardillo was accepted to the doctoral program in Italian Studies at Yale University where she will be continuing her graduate studies in the Fall of 2008.

Devers Program in Dante Studies Post-doctoral Fellow

Chiara Sbordoni, a 2006 Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature from the Universitá La Sapienza in Rome, completed a second year as Devers Program in Dante Studies post-doctoral fellow. 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.

At Notre Dame Sbordoni has established a reputation as a thoughtful and effective teacher of Italian language, literature and culture. During 2007-2008 she taught "Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature," "Textual Analysis," "Dante I" and an advanced undergraduate seminar of her own devising offered in Italian for the first time in the Spring term: "Amori felici e infelici nella letteratura italiana del medioevo e del rinascimento" (Happy and Unhappy Loves in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Literature). 15 students enrolled in this course and Dr. Sbordoni received excellent teaching reviews for it (3.98 on Q17). Sbordoni has been appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian for academic year 2008-2009.

Outreach: Teachers as Scholars

The Devers Program continued during AY 2007-2008 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.

During the Spring, the Devers Program co-sponsored the TAS seminar "Boccaccio's Decameron: Love, Laugher, and Life," offered by Christian Moevs, and held on 
Wednesday, April 30 & Wednesday, May 7.

Outreach: Summer Scholars Dante course

During the summer of 2007, the Devers Program offered for the first time a Summer Scholar Dante course for high schools students sponsored by Notre Dame's Summer Scholar Programs. The course was successful (15 students), and it will be offered again during the summer of 2008. Theodore Cachey taught the course, which was focused on the study of Dante's Inferno, in collaboration with Christian Moevs (on "selected cantos from the Inferno"), John Welle (on "Dante and the Cinema") and Ben Panciera (on "The Zahm Dante Collection"), who each offered seminars as part of the course.

University of Rome-Notre Dame Humanities conference

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 of the University of Notre Dame, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and by the Facoltá di scienze umanistiche (College of Arts and Letters) of the University of Rome (ranked 14th in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, October, 28, 2005). 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, also in anticipation of Notre Dame's establishment of a humanities center in Rome. A second "colloquium," bringing together faculty in the Humanities from both institutions, will be held the University of Notre Dame during the Spring term, 2009.

Scholarly publications

The Ancient Flame: Dante as a Classical Poet, by Winthrop Wetherbee, Volume 9 in the Devers series in Dante Studies published by the University of Notre Dame Press, appeared in the Spring of 2008. Wetherbee is a senior scholar of medieval literature who teaches at Cornell University. His book fills an important lacuna in 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".

Volume 10 in the Devers Series, scheduled to appear during the Spring of 2009, will be Petrarch and Dante: Antidantism, Metaphysics, Tradition, edited by Zygmunt G. Baranski and Theodore Cachey. The volume originated as a series of seminars organized by the William and Katherine Devers Dante Program to celebrate the seventh centenary of Petrarch's birth (1304) that were held at the University of Notre Dame during the Fall of 2004. It features contributions by Albert Ascoli (Berkeley), Zygmunt G. Baranski (Cambridge), Teodolinda Barolini (Columbia), Theodore Cachey (Notre Dame), Ronald R. Martinez (Brown), Sara Sturm-Maddox (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), Giuseppe Mazzotta (Yale), Christian Moevs (Notre Dame) and Justin Steinberg (Chicago).

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 PhD 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 AY 2006-2007.

During the summer of 2008, Leavitt will offer a seven–week seminar/workshop designed to establish a working group of researchers at Notre Dame, who will contribute entries to the Italian National Dictionary Project, the Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini project of the Opera del vocabolario italiano, a branch of the famous Accademia della crusca. Since 1583, the Accademia della crusca has worked to shape and disseminate the Italian language, publishing the first dictionary in any vernacular language in 1612. Today, the Opera del vocabolario italiano is tasked with creating a historical dictionary of the Italian language as it existed before 1375.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, the Devers Program website was updated by Ms. Sara Weber and Mr. Demetrio Yocum.

The site features information about the Program's support of teaching and research about Dante across the Arts & Letters curriculum, in particular in the Medieval and Italian Studies areas; the sponsorship of conferences, fellowships, lecture series, seminars, and visiting professorships related to Dante studies; print and electronic publications of scholarly research published by the University of Notre Dame Press; the ItalNet Consortium for the creation of scholarly internet resources in the Italian Studies area; the funding of an annual program of research and travel grants for faculty and students; and rare book acquisitions in the John A. Zahm, C.S.C., Dante Collection.

Rare Book Acquisitions

A list of works purchased during the 2007-2008 academic year is available here.