Academic Programs and Support

During AY 2014-2015 Notre Dame Professor of Dante and Italian Studies, Zygmunt G. Barański, Serena Professor of Italian at Cambridge, emeritus, organized the fourth annual Italian Studies Research Seminar co-sponsored by the Devers Program in Dante Studies that was initiated by him in his first year on the ND faculty. The Italian Studies Research Seminar provides a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian history, language, and culture (from literature to film, from art history to music, and from anthropology to architecture), as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame’s community of Italianists to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for scholars and students from a variety of disciplines.

• The Italian Research Seminar during AY 2014-2015 featured: 25 September, Giorgio Bertellini (Michigan), “ ‘There’s Nothing Like Going to an Authority!’: Valentino, Mussolini and Celebrity Culture in 1920s America”; 30 October, Martin Bloomer (Notre Dame), “Theorizing the (Roman) Child”; 20 November Elsa Filosa (Vanderbilt), “Boccaccio and the Coup in Florence (1360-61)”.

In January 2015, we began a year-long celebration of both the 750th  anniversary of Dante’s birth, and the 20th anniversary of the Devers Program in Dante Studies, taking the form of a lecture series of the poet’s so-called “minor works” and a publication. Dante’s Other Works 2015: A Celebration of the 750th Anniversary of Dante’s Birth is co-sponsored by the Devers Program in conjunction with Italian Studies at Notre Dame. The series takes place on eight Thursdays throughout 2015, beginning in January and ending in November. Twelve prominent scholars from the US, Italy and the UK have been invited to deliver lectures in the series. Each lecture addresses one of the “other works” by presenting the principal interpretive trends and issues relating to the text and focusing on some of its aspects of particular interest. In conjunction with the lecture series, Notre Dame University Press will publish a “companion to Dante’s other works.”

The Devers Program in Dante Studies gave special attention during AY 2014-15 to strengthening the Program’s commitment to the support of the undergraduate study of Dante and of the humanities. In the Fall of 2014, Christian Moevs taught a course on Dante’s Inferno and the so-called “minor works” (“Dante I”); and he repeated his regularly offered spring semester course on Dante’s Purgatory and Paradise (“Dante II”). Vittorio Montemaggi taught a course cross-listed with the Medieval Institute called “Humanity and Divinity in the works of Dante Alighieri”.

• An important initiative in support of the undergraduate study of Dante was the successful “Dante Now! Divine Comedy Flash Mob Readings from the Divine Comedy” that was held Friday afternoon October 10. Notre Dame’s campus became the perfect stage for this unique event, which gathered Notre Dame students, faculty, and other members of the Notre Dame community who love the Italian language, the poet Dante, and his immortal poem, the Divine Comedy, for choral public readings from the poem. A public illustrated lecture “Reading Dante Reading Hell” by Theodore Cachey, Christian Moevs, and Anne Leone (Notre Dame) concluded the afternoon.

The Devers Program sponsored and co-sponsored numerous guest lectures and seminars in addition to the above during AY 2014-2015, including:

• September 4, Brian K. Reynolds (Fu Jen), “Dante’s Prayer to the Virgin, the Commedia and the Marian Tradition”; three lectures in January by Federico Gallo (Ambrosiana Library), “Into the Library: Ecclesiastical Libraries in Italy and Their Collections: Parts 1-3”; 20 March, Arielle Saiber (Bowdoin), “The Rainbow Fire-Breathing Topology and Combinatorics of Dante’s Trinity” at the Newberry Library, Chicago.

• The Devers program collaborated with the Religion and Literature Program in its support of Robin Kirkpatrick, emeritus Professor of Italian at Cambridge University, as a distinguished Visiting Professor during the fall semester of 2014.

Graduate student support

During 2014-2015 the Devers Program contributed to the research travel to utilize the Zahm Dante collection of several visiting scholars and funded the research travel of several Notre Dame graduate students through its annual research travel grant and travel to collections program. In addition, the Devers Program continued its support of the Cambridge-Notre Dame Graduate Student Exchange Program, in which a student from Notre Dame studies for a semester at Cambridge, and vice versa, each year.

During 2014-2015 under the category of Humanities outreach programming, the Devers Program contributed to Notre Dame’s “Teachers as Scholars” Program of which the Devers Program is one of the founding co-sponsors. “Teachers as Scholars” is a professional development program that enables teachers in schools from South Bend area school districts to participate in specially organized academic seminars offered by Notre Dame professors on campus.

Scholarly publications

Several years ago the scholarly remit of the award-winning Devers series in Dante Studies was expanded to include beyond Dante, all of 13th and 14th century Italian literature; and significant changes were made to the editorial structure of the series, which now includes Zygmunt Barański as series editor, Theodore Cachey and Christian Moevs. In 2013-14, the Devers series considered several projects for publication. Among these the series is supporting the development of a volume based on the conference “Dante’s Theology” which the Devers program co-sponsored and that was held in Tantur, Jerusalem in 2013:

“Dante’s Theology” based on the conference at Tantur seeks to make a substantial “contribution to the study of Dante’s theology while also being true to the particular spirit of the meeting that took place in June 2013, capturing - in both its content and its form - the depth, breadth, energy and collaboration that characterized our proceedings at Tantur. In an academic climate that increasingly considers originality to be the hallmark of academic success, but does so in strongly individualistic ways, the volume seeks to provide fresh and original content, but also to make a strong and original statement concerning the importance of genuine friendship and collaboration in academic enquiry. The volume aims to share this with the wider academic community.

Internet research and development

The Devers Program continued to develop new initiatives utilizing emerging digital technologies to collaborate with institutions on a global scale. Two ongoing projects include:

• Italian Studies at Notre Dame with support of the Devers Program is in the third year of its collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge and Leeds in the UK: Cambridge Vertical Readings in Dante’s Commedia, a four-year long series of workshops via teleconference investigating collaboratively all 100 cantos of Dante’s most famous work. Scholars and students from the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds and Notre Dame engage in a series of workshops via teleconference to collaborate on the project; in 2014-15, scholars at Notre Dame’s Rome Global Gateway joined the discussions.

• Italian Studies at Notre Dame with support of the Devers Program continues to partner with the Opera del vocabolario italiano (OVI) in Florence, Italy, a branch of the prestigious Accademia della Crusca (founded in 1583) on the creation of a historical dictionary of the Italian language before 1375. During 2014-2015, several members of the Notre Dame community conducted research on early Italian texts. The Devers Program also sponsored the travel expenses for three ND participants in the program to travel to Florence for training. Notre Dame researchers have authored more than a hundred signed entries for the dictionary.

• A new initiative was begun in 2014-15, which will continue throughout 2015-16: a research collaboration between Notre Dame and the AHRC-funded Project “Dante and Late Medieval Florence: Theology in Poetry, Practice and Society,” which is co-led by the Universities of Leeds and Warwick. In September 2014, a workshop was held at Notre Dame to introduce scholars here to the project being undertaken at Leeds and Warwick. In 2015-16, Notre Dame will develop its own related branch of the project which will include the sponsorship of a postdoctoral researcher, Luca Lombardo, who will undertake further research related to the issue of “Dante’s Vernacular Culture”.

• On 18 September 2014, scholars from the Universities of Notre Dame, Leeds and Warwick met at Notre Dame for a workshop on the research project, enabling those attending to encounter some of the archival materials relating to theological and religious life in the 1280s and 1290s, and to be introduced to Florentine religious culture in the period, with a particular focus on the quodlibetal disputations held in the mendicant houses of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce, and on preaching. A sample of the disputations and of the sermons which Dante’s Florentine contemporaries – and perhaps Dante himself – would have heard were presented; much of this material was made available in this workshop for the first time. Topics discussed included the theological interest of the material, as well as its possible value for understanding of Dante’s works. The workshop was led by Matthew Treherne, Claire Honess, and Nicolò Maldina (Leeds), and Anna Pegoretti (Warwick).

Rare Book Acquisitions

One of the main functions of the Devers Program continues to be the funding and organizing of the acquisition of additional rare materials for the Zahm Dante Collection in Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries. During 2014-15, the Devers Program purchased the following rare items for the Zahm Collection:

• Domenico Nani Mirabelli: Polyanthea. Venice, ex officina Petri Liechtenstein, 1507.

• Poliziano. Stanze [...] comintiate per la Giostra del Magnifico Giuliano di Piero De’ Medici [Fabula di Orpheo]. Venice, per Nicolò Zopino e Vincentio [de Polo] compagno, 1524.

• Pietro Aretino. Tre primi canti di Marfisa [...]. Nuovamente stampati et historiati. Venice, per Giovanni Andrea Vavassore ditto Guadagnino e Florio fratelli, 1544.

• Pietro Aretino, Lodovico Dolce, Francesco Sansovino, Capitoli [...], diretti a gran Signori sopra varie et diverse materie molto dilettevole. Venice, Comin da Trino?, 1540.

Proverbii e Motti bellissimi di diversi autori eccellentissimi hebrei, greci et latini, in rima nuovamente composti a commune utilitade. s.l. [Milano?], s.n.t., s.a. [ca. 1550].

• Lorenzo de’Medici. Poesie volgari. Venice, Paolo Manuzio, 1554.

L’Africa del Petrarca in ottaua rima insieme col testo latino, fedelissimamente tradotta da m. Fabio Marretti gentilhuomo senese. Venice, Appresso Domenico Farri, 1570.

• Alessandro Tassoni. Auuertimenti di Crescenzio Pepe da Susa al Sig. G. degli Aromatari intorno alle riposte dat da lui alle Considerazioni des Sig. A Tassoni sopra le Rime del Petrarca. Modena, 1611.

• Giraldi Giraldo. Novelle [...] per la prima volta date in luce. Amsterdam, 1796.

Comedia di Dante con Figure Dipinte. Rome, Salerno Editrice, 2014.