Dante at Hand

Principal Investigator Carol Chiodo

Programmer Doug Duhaime

UX Design Monica Ong

Project: Customized WordPress site using the extra-illustrated volume as an organizational principle. 


Asset 4@3xA multimedia history of reading Dante

The Dante at Hand Project examines the extent to which the study of Dante reinvented and reinvigorated the innovation and expansion of higher education across the United States in the late nineteenth century. The first  phase of the project examines the role of the members of The Dante Society of America in the translation and diffusion of Dante’s works as part of a broader initiative to modernize university instruction.  When did Dante become essential to a nineteenth century American education? And what role did scholarly and non-scholarly networks play in that process?

Theodore W. Koch’s bibliographical and historical investigation into the dissemination of Dante’s work in America published in 1896 for the Society delineated an exclusive scholarly genealogy  which extended from Lorenzo Da Ponte to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Charles Eliot Norton with nary a mention of the contributions made by female scholars. Subsequent studies have broadened slightly the horizon of inquiry, but the narrative — and the gender — of the “Dante Club” remained intact. Yet during those same decades,  women scholars were translating, adapting and teaching Dante’s Comedy in unprecedented numbers. Their emerging presence in higher education and the public sphere is registered in the membership rolls of the scholarly societies open to them, such as the Dante Society of America and the American Association for University Women, both founded in 1881. This project shines new light on these women and their contributions, addresses the gender gap in the study of Dante’s reception, and illustrates how Dante became an American author. 

Subsequent phases now underway explore the role of the Society in the promotion and the establishment of Italian as a discipline in the American university, the material role of scholarly communication and the publishing industry in translation and diffusion of Dante’s Comedy and the importance of the non-scholarly community in the support and development of Dante studies in North America.  

Timeline Draft

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