Dante Lab is an online application that allows students and scholars of the Divine Comedy to read and compare up to four texts from the site’s database simultaneously; these texts include Giorgio Petrocchi’s critical edition, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1867 translation, and more than 75 commentaries from the fourteenth century through today. The objective of Dante Lab is to create a virtual workspace that accounts for the needs of both students and novices to the poem, as well as serious scholars engaged in contemporary Dante Studies. For this reason, the Dante Lab reader was inspired by the ‘analogue’ workspace of the professional Dantista, who needs quick and easy access not only to the text of the poem’s three canticles, but also to the early commentaries, notes from numerous recent editions, and a concordance that facilitates philological research and interpretive criticism.
Dante Lab, which was first presented at Dartmouth College in 2013 at the Digital French and Italian Symposium , would not exist without the Dartmouth Dante Project. The DDP was originally developed by Robert Hollander, a visiting professor at Dartmouth College during several summers between 1982 and 1988, when the project opened to public use. Professor Hollander still serves as co-director of the DDP along with Stephen Campbell of Dartmouth. The goal of the project was to digitize the texts of many of the earliest commentaries to the Divine Comedy in order to provide access to a substantial and important body of material not easily found outside of large research institutions. Dante Lab seeks to further the original vision of the DDP by reimagining the possibilities for research afforded by the union of digitized text with current web design.
The development of Dante Lab has been made possible by the financial support of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College. The design of Dante Lab was carried out under the supervision of Daniel Rockmore, Director of the Neukom Institute; Graziella Parati, Chair of French and Italian at Dartmouth College; and Scott Millspaugh, Visiting Lecturer in French and Italian at Dartmouth College. Jennifer Mirsky of Mirsky Digital and her incredibly capable team — Liza Bouchard (User Experience Design) and Charles Forcey (Ruby on Rails development, database integration and search) — made Dante Lab a reality. Stephen Campbell, who carried out the 2005 redesign of the Dartmouth Dante Project, consulted on the integration of the DDP database into Dante Lab. Additional organizational direction was provided by Jill Baron, Andrea Tarnowski, and Michelle Warren, all at Dartmouth College.
Homepage image: “Dante in Exile,” Domenico Peterlini (1822-1891/Italian), Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy.