Academic Programs and Support

The Devers Program co-sponsored with Italian Studies and the Medieval Institute a panel on recent research on Dante’s Vita nova, which featured presentations by Zygmunt G. Baranski, Serena Professor of Italian at Cambridge and Claire Honess, Co-Director of the Leeds Center for Dante Studies and Visiting Scholar at Notre Dame for Fall Semester 2010 (November, 2010).

The Devers Program co-sponsored with Italian Studies and the Medieval Institute the lecture “Albertino Mussato and the Politics of Poetry in Fourteenth-Century Italy,” by David Lummus, Assistant Professor of Italian, Yale University (April, 2010).

The Devers Program co-sponsored with Italian Studies and the Medieval Institute the lecture “The Treasure of the Translator: Dante and Vernacularization,” by Professor Alison Cornish, Professor of Italian, Yale University of Michigan (April, 2010).

The Devers Program co-sponsored with Italian Studies and the Medieval Institute and with Shakespeare at Notre Dame the lecture "Turning to a Joy," by Robin Kirkpatrick, Professor of Italian and English Literatures, University of Cambridge; and "Facing Discovery," a dance performance inspired by Dante and led by Robin Kirkpatrick (April, 2010).

The Devers Program co-sponsored with Italian Studies and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies the inaugural Rome Summer Seminar (13 June –1 July, 2011)—devoted to the theme of Italia “Glocale”/“Glocal” Italy—explored the history and the contemporary reality of Italy as both a major presence on the world stage and a culture grappling with the need to construct a unified national imaginary while at the same time preserving regional and local distinctiveness, identity, difference. In broader, more abstract terms, reflection on “Glocal Italy” provided multiple starting points for examining on the relations between centers and peripheries, identity and difference, the urban and the rural, the universal and the particular, national and minority languages or dialects, hegemony and subalternities, the global and the local. In keeping with its cross- and inter-disciplinary character, the Rome Seminar was conducted by faculty and scholars representing a broad spectrum of academic fields.

The seminar leaders and distinguished lecturers included:

  • Maurizio Albahari (Anthropology), Joseph Buttigieg, Theodore Cachey, Dennis Doordan (Architecture), Sabine MacCormack (History and Classics), Margaret Meserve (History), Charles Rosenberg (Art History), and Ingrid Rowland (Architecture and Art History) of the University of Notre Dame;
  • Roberto Antonelli (Romance Philology), Piero Boitani (Comparative Literature), and Maria Serena Sapegno (Italian) of the University of Rome “La Sapienza”;
  • Roberto Dainotto (Italian and Comparative Literature) of Duke University;
  • Salvatore Settis (Art History and Classical Archeology) of The Scuola Normale di Pisa;
  • Aldo Schiavone (Law and History) of the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane; and
  • Maurizio Viroli (Political Theory) of Princeton University.

Participants in the seminar included advanced graduate students and junior faculty from a broad array of institutions and Italian Studies programs worldwide, including the University of Chicago, James Madison University, Flinders University Adelaide, Rutgers University, the University of Cambridge, the University of Michigan, Brown University, California State University-Chico, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Stanford University, New York University, and the University of Notre Dame. (For a complete program and details on the faculty and participants, see http://italianstudies.nd.edu/rome-seminar.)

Graduate student support

The Devers Program supported during AY 2010-2011 the graduate studies of Filippo Gianferrari of Bologna, Italy, in the form of a MA graduate teaching assistantship. Gianferrari completed the M.A. degree in Italian Studies and graduated in May 2011. He will continue his studies in the Ph.D. Program of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame, beginning AY 2011-2012.

Scholarly publications

Freedom Riders: the African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy

Written by Dennis Looney, volume 12 in the Devers Series appeared in the Spring of 2011.

Looney’s book is a literary-historical study of the many surprising ways in which Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy have assumed a position of importance in African American culture. Dennis Looney examines how African American authors have read, interpreted, and responded to Dante and his work from the late 1820s to the present. Looney demonstrates this appropriation of Dante as a locus for black agency in the creative work of such authors as William Wells Brown, the poet H. Cordelia Ray, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, and the filmmaker Spencer Williams. Looney fruitfully suggests that we read Dante’s Divine Comedy with its African American rewritings in mind, to assess their effect on our interpretation of the Comedy and, in turn, on our understanding of African American culture. Dennis Looney is professor of Italian at the University of Pittsburgh.

Internet research and development

During AY 2010-2011, the Devers Program in Dante Studies, together with Italian Studies at Notre Dame strengthened the relationship between Notre Dame and the University of Leeds, one of the two top-rated Italian programs in the United Kingdom, which is also home to the leading Centre for Dante Studies in the U.K. The collaboration included joint conferences, graduate student exchanges, video-conference seminars, podcasts, learning assessment and research-led teaching. Claire Honess, Co-Director of the Leeds Center for Dante Studies spent the Fall 2010 semester at Notre Dame as a Visiting Scholar. A video-conference held on December 8, 2010, brought together the faculties of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Leeds, with research presentations by Maurizio Albahari, Damiano Benvegnù, Joseph Buttigieg, Sabrina Ferri, Charles Leavitt, and John Welle of Notre Dame and Rhiannon Daniels, Claire Honess, Brian Richardson, Olivia Santovetti, and Gigliola Sullis of Leeds.

The Devers Program has continued its support of the ItalNet project. In particular Italian Studies at Notre Dame is partnering with the the Opera del vocabolario italiano (OVI), a branch of the prestigious Accademia della crusca (founded in 1583) on the creation of the Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO), a historical dictionary of the Italian language before 1375. Over the last year, several members of the Notre Dame community, including Filippo Gianferrari, Elisabetta Drudi, Giovanna Lenzi-Sandusky, and Charles Leavitt, have been conducting research on early Italian texts. Notre Dame researchers have authored more than 100 signed entries for the dictionary. In April, the Devers Program co-sponsored with Italian Studies a video-conference that brought together the Notre Dame participants in the project with the scholars based in Florence, including the Director of the OVI, Professor Pietro Beltrami.

Rare Book Acquisitions

During AY 2010-11, the Devers Program purchased the following rare items for the Zahm Dante Collection:

1. Pietro Bembo. Rime, Le Stanze, De gli Asolani. Venice: Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio, 1530. [System Number: 002716683]


2. Serafino Ciminelli, called Serafino Aquilano. Opere nuouamente ricorrette & con diligentia impresse. Venice: Nicolo de Bascarini, 1548. [System Number: 002698375]

One of the first complete editions of Ciminelli’s volgare poems of the late 15th century.

3. Lodovico Dolce. Osservationi nella volgar lingua, divise in quattro libri. Venice: Appresso Gabriel Giolito De Ferrari, 1550. [System Number: 002573351]

First edition of a linguistic and grammatical study in which Dolce draws examples from and comments on Dante, Boccaccio, Ariosto, etc.

4. Matteo San Martino. Le osseruationi grammaticali e poetiche della lingua italiana. Rome: Per Valerio Dorico, e Luigi fratelli, 1555. [System Number: 002692299]

First edition of one of the earliest Italian grammars and systematic explications of the Italian language, with particular attention to Dante and Petrarch.

5. Nicolò Secchi. Gl'Inganni commedia. Florence: Appresso i Giunti, 1568. [System Number: 002742081]

Influential Italian comedy of the 16th century and possible source of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

6. Giovan Battista Cini. La vedova, commedia. Florence: Appresso i Giunti, 1569. [System Number: 002742074]

First edition of the only published play by Cini, the biographer and secretary to Cosimo I de’ Medici, notable amongst contemporary Florentine comedies for its use of regional dialects.

7. Thomaso Porcacchi. L'isole piu famose del mondo. Venice: Appresso gli heredi di Simon Galignani, 1590. [System Number: 002700799]

Third edition of Porcacci’s important cartographic work; includes 19 maps not included in the first edition of 1572 and two additional maps not included in the second edition of 1576.

8. Francesco Sansovino. The Quintesence of wit. London: Printed by Edward Allde, 1590. [System Number: 002727873]

An important and rare translation that demonstrates the influence of popular Venetian political and literary sources in Elizabethan England. The text is also considered a Shakespeare source book.

9. Gabriele Zinano. Sommarii di varie retoriche greche, latine, et volgari. Reggio: Appresso Hercoliano Bartholi, 1590. [System Number: 002722277]

First edition of Zinano’s translations of pithy tenets taken from Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, etc. for the befit of courtiers and, as notes the preface, for the enrichment of the Italian language.

10. Ascanio Persio. Discorso del s. Ascanio Persio intorno alla conformità della lingua italiana con le più nobili antiche lingue, & principalemente con la greca ... Venice: In Appresso Gio. Battista Ciotti, al segno della Minerua, 1592. [System Number: 002742078]

Corrected second edition of a discourse on the Italian language by the Bolognese scholar Ascanio Persio.

11. Luigi Tansillo. Il cavallarizzo. Vicenza: G. Greco, 1601. [System Number: 002634282]

First edition of Tansillo’s reworking of three Pietro Aretino comedies that had been placed on the Index in 1558 in an attempt by the publisher to deceive censors.

12. Giovanni Boccaccio. The novels and tales of the renowned John Boccacio ... : containing a hundred curious novels, by seven honourable ladies, and three noble gentlemen. London: Printed for Awnsham Churchill, 1684. [System Number: 00291952]

Influential English translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron.

13. James Wallace Black. Photographs from Dore's Dante. Boston: J. E. Tilton and Company, 1868. [System Number: 002701395]

Rare photographically illustrated book that reproduces Dore’s engravings as printed by James Wallace Black, an early American pioneer of photography. 

14. George D. Sproul. Sonnets From Petrarch. 1902. [System Number: 002689283]

Printed book on vellum, illustrated with hand-illuminated title page and 30 initial letters.

15. Dante miniature set: La Commedia (1921), Vita Nuova e Canzoniere ( 1921), Il Convivio (1917), De Monarchia (1917). Firenze: G. Barbera, Editore. [System Number: 002723680]

Set of Dante miniature volumes in hand-crafted ‘treasure chest.’

16. John Henry Nash. Life of Dante. San Francisco: printed by J.H. Nash for his friends, 1922. [System Number: 002638922]

Fine press print edition of Boccaccio’s Life of Dante.

17. Autograph Letter, signed G Santayana, to George Rauh on the topic of Lawrence Grant White’s translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dated January 31, 1950. [System Number: 002575037]


18. Dennis Marsico. Canto V. Pittsburg: Dionysus Press, 2004. [System Number: 002590586]

Artists’ book with digital illustrations to the fifth canto of Inferno, reenacted in the turbulent hellish waters of a hot tub in Pittsburgh.