User’s Guide

dante-and-virgil

Detail from an illuminated manuscript of the Commedia, North Italy, Genoa (?), 14th century (Bodleian Library, Oxford University, MS. Holkham misc. 48)

How To Use This Site:
  • Recent Dante Sightings: Here you will find the 7 most recently posted sightings. These posts often report the current Dante-related events, magazine articles, films etc. that find their way to Dante Today, but they can also contain recently discovered Dante references from the past (e.g. a book published in 2003 or a restaurant opened in 1980).
  • Categories: We have created 8 broad categories of sightings to organize the posts into groups (Consumer GoodsDining & LeisureMusicOdds & EndsPerforming ArtsPlacesVisual Arts & Architecture, and Written Word). Some posts fall under multiple categories, and within each category, the posts are arranged chronologically by date posted. Browsing through the categories is one way of familiarizing yourself with a general division of posts, while searching with tags prompts you to think about the more specific ways that various posts are related (learn more about tags below).
  • Search This Site: This is a useful way to find a post containing specific information, such as a person, historical event, band name, film title, etc. For example, you would use Search This Site to see postings related to Dan Brown’s Inferno or to the auction house Sotheby’s. The search terms will appear highlighted in yellow.
  • Searching with Tags: After you enter into a category or begin viewing a specific post, a toolbar appears at the right of the screen. This bar includes a list of the 8 Categories, a list of Frequent Tags, and a link to a list of All Tags. We have tagged each post with its key terms and ideas, and tags create more specific connections between different kinds of posts based on related content, themes, ideas, and/or Dante phrases. Tags also break the larger 8 categories down into subcategories. For example, Visual Arts and Architecture includes posts tagged with Sculptures, Paintings, Prints, etc.. Written Word, the largest category, can be usefully narrowed down by tags such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Translations, Journalism, Comics, etc. We are always looking to create a greater network of connections between posts, so if you have additional tag suggestions, please email them to asaiber@bowdoin.edu and/or ecoggeshall@fsu.edu.
  • Submit a Citing: If you have a Dante sighting to contribute, we welcome your submissions here.

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Other Resources Available On Dante Today
  • Dante Links: This tab, found at the top of each page, includes a list of useful external links for further Dante research and exploration.
  • Bibliography of Scholarly Works: Also found at the top of each page, this tab brings you to a list of scholarly studies (books and articles) on Dante in contemporary culture. We do periodic searches to update this page, but also update it when someone sends us a new bibliographic reference.

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Important: Quirks To Keep In Mind:
  • Predominance of USA and New York City: This website was built at an American university, and the majority of the sightings come from American contexts. Of particular note is a disproportionately high number of sightings connected to New York City. The New York Times is a frequent source for our contributors, and it features many articles (arts, culture, politics, etc.) with references to Dante. We recommend, thus, that you do not draw global conclusions about locations (cities, states, countries, regions, etc.), as our contributions are skewed toward sightings found in the US, in English, and often in The New York Times.
  • English Language: The majority of the posts and website content is in English. We welcome and encourage sightings from around the world, but we do need to keep the titles, quotations, and tags in English in order for the search engine to function.
  • Data-in-Progress: Dante Today does not, and could not possibly, contain every Dante sighting there was or is. This is especially important to remember when doing searches based on questions that are looking at statistics. However, like any experiment, the more data the site accumulates, the more useful the data becomes for drawing provisional conclusions. We recommend that you keep the caveat of “provisional” in mind if you are using this site for research.
  • Inferno/Hell Tags and Searches: We have tagged sightings to do with hell (the place, not the canticle) with either Hell or Inferno, depending on which word is used in the sighting’s text. In some cases, we use both. The same goes for Purgatory and Purgatorio, and Paradise and Paradiso. We think it is interesting to see which sightings use Dante’s Italian vs. which use the English translation. It is unlikely that there is a post’s text that contains one of these words and is not tagged, so you do NOT need to use the Search This Site for them. If you want to see everything to do with Purgatory, for example, be sure to check both Purgatory and Purgatorio in tags.
  • Adaptation vs. Illustration vs. Translation vs. Borrowing: We have not categorized sightings into “kinds,” nor have we tagged them as such (except for Translations and some posts that state they are illustrations). We encourage discussion about the nature of the sightings. Is the sighting, for example, clearly illustrating a scene from the Comedy, or is it an adaptation of a scene, canto, canticle, or the entire Comedy? Is the sighting simply borrowing a name, general idea, association, or word from Dante and/or the Comedy? When does a translation become an adaptation? What degree of “interpretation” goes into borrowing, translation, illustration, and adaptation both in general and in individual cases?

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A Sampling Of Questions Dante Today Can Help To Answer:
  • What aspects of Dante and his works are most commonly emphasized in contemporary culture?
  • Among the most popular tags, which did you find most surprising or unexpected? Why do you think Dante and his works were used in a particular context?
  • Where does Beatrice show up in contemporary culture?
  • What are there common themes, words, or images in Beatrice sightings?
  • What is the most common genre of film linked to Dante?
  • Which sightings contain humor, and why are there so many?
  • How true to Dante-the-person/pilgrim and the Inferno are inferno-based video games? What do they get right, and what do they get wrong?
  • In what sort of Consumer Goods do Dante and his works appear most frequently?
  • What differences/similarities are there between illustrations (painting, sculpture, etc.) of Dante’s work in contemporary culture? What has or hasn’t changed over time?
  • How much familiarity with Dante and his works does a given post reveal? Is there a category, or subcategory of posts that indicates a particularly deep level of knowledge? One that shows a particularly superficial level of knowledge?

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A Final Note: Dante Today is an evolving website and we are always looking to improve its utility and navigability. We welcome feedback and suggestions, which can be sent to Arielle Saiber and/or Beth Coggeshall.