Dante Prize Winners

Since 1887, the Dante Society of America has had a tradition of recognizing outstanding essays on a subject related to the life or works of Dante Alighieri by undergraduate students enrolled in American college and universities. For further information and submission guidelines, please consult our Prizes page.


2017   Charles East (Princeton University), “Slipping through the Cracks: A Study of the Elusive Literal Reading of Dante’s contrapasso for the Lustful”

2016   Dale Lobo (University of Notre Dame), “Reaching for the Pomo: Seeking the Fulfillment of Desire Within”

2015   (shared) Alex Cuadrado (Princeton University), “Fraud Defrauded: Allusion and Analogy in Inferno

2015   (shared) Melinda Wilson (University of California, Los Angeles), “From Shipwreck to Salvation: Family, Division and Self-Sacrifice in the Commedia

2014   Christian Coppa (University of Notre Dame), “From the ‘selva oscura’ to the ‘divina foresta’: Sylvan Symbols in Inferno and Purgatorio

2013   Kelly Leow (University of California, Los Angeles), “‘Come l’uom s’etterna’: Poetry, Pride and Textile in the Divine Comedy

2012   William Porter (The State University of New York, Geneseo), “The Clockwork of Dante’s Cosmos: Some Uses of Time in Paradiso

2011   Joshua Fox (University of Chicago), “The Winds of the Earthly Paradise: The Importance of Growth without Seed on Earth”

2010   William Porter (The State University of New York, Geneseo), “‘L’arco de lo essilio’: The Nexus of History, Pilgrimage, and Prophecy in the Heaven of Mars”

2009   David Ungvary (Duke University), “Ulysses and Diomedes: A Model of Unity and Duality in Inferno XXVI”

2008   Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin College), “‘A piè del ponticello’: Schism and Suspension in Inferno XXIX”

2007   Sherif Girgis (Princeton University), “The Anti-Sacrament of Inferno Canto XIII”

2007   (honorable mention) Kelsey Abbruzzese (Bowdoin College), “The Stately Tree: Longfellow and Dante at Bowdoin College”

2006   (shared) Lisa Caruana (The State University of New York, Geneseo), “The Dynamic Motion of Paradise”

2006   (shared) John Davies (Harvard University), “Purgatorio petroso: The Rime in the Purgatorio

2005   Michael Nicholson (University of California, Berkeley), “Reading Dante’s Stars: An Examination of Dante’s Poetics in the Divine Comedy

2004   Benjamin F. Johnson (Brigham Young University), “Rekindling Dante’s carboni spenti: Vindicating Virgil to Preserve an Empire”

2003   Kyle Anderson (Brigham Young University), “Dante, Love, and Virgil’s Bees”

2002   Marisa Escolar (Columbia University), “Finding ‘I’ In The Place Where All Things Are: Borges’ Use of Dante’s Epic Themes in El Aleph

2001   Paul Hackwell (Princeton University), “Dante’s ‘non falsi errori’: A True Allusion to Augustine?”

2000   Toby Levers (University of California, Berkeley), “The Image of Authorship in the Vita Nuova’s Final Chapter”

1999   Stephen E. Sachs (Harvard University), “The Well-Nurtured Soul: Freedom, Dependence, the Pilgrim and His Guides”

1998   Matthew Pearl (Harvard University), “Dante in Transit: Emerson’s Lost Role as Dantean”

1997   William C. Hacker (Brown Universtiy), “Beyond a Common Language: Dante, Abraham, and Textual Faith”

1996   (shared) Anna Foy (Princeton University), “Antagonism, Transformation, and the Serpent in Inferno IX and Purgatorio VIII”

1996   (shared) Anna Marrs (Northwestern University), “Reading the ‘visibile parlar’ in Dante’s Commedia

1995   Gillian Webster (Princeton University), “Divine Authority in Dante’s Comedy

1994   [not awarded]

1993   Sean P. Keilen (Williams College), “Dante’s Ovid: Toward a Poetics of Play for the Commedia

1992   (shared) David Burnett (Princeton University), “Divine Reflections: Notes toward an Understanding of Mirrors and Light in the Divina Commedia

1992   (shared) William C. Stull (Princeton University), “Dante, Dido, and Lust in the Divine Comedy

1991   Ashley Imus (New York University), “Dante’s Derridean Nightmare: contrapasso in Inferno XXV”

1990   [not awarded]

1989   Paul R. Wright (Northwestern University), “Linguistic Mediation, Adamic Idiom, and the Babel Legend in Dante’s De Vulgari Eloquentia and Paradiso XXVI”

1988   Nicholas Rennie (Princeton University), “The Leaves of a New Language”

1987   [not awarded]

1986   [not awarded]

1985   (shared) John Paul Wauck (Harvard University), “Vision of Love: Dante’s Associated Sensibility in the Sphere of the Sun”

1985   (shared) Virginia Jewiss (University of Pennsylvania), “Papal Petrology: The Punishment of the Simonists in Inferno XIX”

1984   John Kleiner (University of Massachussets, Amherst), “Celestial Paradise”

1983   (shared) Charles Willburn (Stanford University), “Palinodes in Purgatorio

1983   (shared) Elizabeth Stratmore (Princeton University), “Old Song, New Song, and Dante’s Conversion of Poetics”

1982   Andrea Wilson (Stanford University), “Dante’s Earthly Paradise: An Antipastoral”

1981   [not awarded]

1980   (shared) Martha Toll (Yale University), “A Study of Music in Dante’s Divine Comedy

1980   (shared) Peter Borton (Yale University), “Bestiality, Sin, and Poethood: The Taming of Geryon in Inferno XVIII”

1979   (shared) Elizabeth A. Raymond (Princeton University), “Jason and the Argo Theme in Dante’s Commedia

1979   (shared) Sharona Ben-Tov (Princeton University), “Lecturacula Dantis, or Some Notes on the Souls in Jupiter”

1978   [not awarded]

1977   [not awarded]

1976   Felice Visceglia (Princeton University), “The Divina Commedia as Prothalamion”

1975   Steven J. Rowan (University of Connecticut), “The Problem of Redemptive Identity in the Canto of the Three Florentines”

1974   [not awarded]

1973   Susan Nugent (Princeton University), “Visions of Love in La Vita Nuova

1972   Donna Mancusi-Ungaro (Vassar College ), “Osservazioni sulla Monarchia di Dante”

1971   [not awarded]

1970   John D. Levenson (Harvard University), “The Grundworte of Pier delle Vigne”

1970   (honorable mention) Francis C. Klein (Harvard University), “Dante’s First Encounter with Fraud”

1969   [not awarded]

1968   J. Ranallo (University of Victoria, British Columbia), “Dante’s Inferno and the Early Poetry of T.S. Eliot”

1967   Wilbur F. Pierce (State University of New York, Buffalo), “The Dramatic Relationship between Dante and Virgil”

1966   Elizabeth Gesmer (Wellesley College), “The Role of Dante’s Dreams in Purgatorio

1965   Joan Schwarz (Bard College), “The Concept of Figura in the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri”

1964   (shared) Caroline Hibbard (Wellesley College), “Poets and Poetry in Dante’s Purgatorio

1964   (shared) Claudia Anne Swartz (Washington University, St. Louis), “Il varco folle di Ulisse”

1963   (shared) Joan Lubin (Grinnell College), “Dante as Poet of the Double War”

1963   (shared) Margaret Ann Krauss (University of Colorado), “Dante, Humanist”

1962   [not awarded]

1961   Diana Gisolfi (Radcliffe College), “Manfred’s Salvation: Document, Doctrine, Drama”

1960   Chalres J. Doria (Western Reserve University), “The Third Circle of Venus in the Paradiso of Pound and Dante”

1960   (second prize - shared) Frank De Furia (Harvard University), “Guido da Montefeltro”

1960   (second prize - shared) Jane Perry (Bryn Mawr College), “T.S. Eliot and Dante: A Study of Their Relationship”

1959   Rachel Jacoff (Cornell University), “A Raid on the Inarticulate”

1958   Morton D. Paley (Brown Universtiy), “Dante’s Triumphal Pageant”

1958   (honorable mention) John Krnacik Jr. (Duquesne University), “Fortitude as Virtue against ‘lento amore’: A Study of the Purgatorio

1958   (honorable mention) Theodore Holmes (Iowa State University), “The Light of Dante’s Paradise”

1957   (shared) John Darzins (Yale University), “Infernal Time”

1957   (shared) Sally Wiseley (Yale University), “Time in Dante’s Inferno

1957   (honorable mention) Blossom M. Douthat (Yale University), “The Theme of Commitment in the Inferno

1956   (shared) Elizabeth L. Helgenberg (Bryn Mawr College), “Paradise Lost and the Divina Commedia: Related Aspects of Religion”

1956   (shared) John V. Saly (Columbia University), “A Note on Giants and Angels in the Divine Comedy

1956   (honorable mention) Mark Musa (Rutgers University), “Translation of the Vita nuova

1955   [not awarded]

1954   [no record of award]

1953   Dorothy Hughes Gillerman , “Trecento Illustrators of the Divine Comedy

1952   [no record of award]

1951   [no record of award]

1950   Siegle Fleisher, “Dante’s De Vulgari Eloquentia

1949   (shared) Howard H. Schless, “Melville and Dante: A Structural Comparison”

1949   (shared) Raymond J. Dorius, “The English Reader and Dante’s Visibile parlare

1948   [no record of award]

1947    Ellen Harriman, “Angels in Dante”

1946   [no record of award]

1945   (shared) Mary C. Williams, “Fear in the Divine Comedy

1945   (shared) Rosina Bateson, “Paolo and Francesca”

1944   [no record of award]

1943   [no record of award]

1942   (shared) Florence M. Newman, “The Francesca da Rimini Episode in English Literature”

1942   (shared) Frances Lynd, “Imagery in the First Two Cantiche of the Divine Comedy

1942   (shared) Joanna H. Loewe , “The Divine Comedy in Art”

1942   (shared) Sarah C. Alexander, “Dante in Relation to Landscape Poetry”

1941   L. Marsden Durham, “Dante and T.S. Eliot”

1940   [no record of award]

1939   Mimi Wilczynski, “A Thread of Shadow in Dante’s Purgatory

1938   J. Chelsey Mathews, “Dante and Major American Writers 1800- 1867”

1938   (second prize) Paul Siegel, “Dante on Monarchy”

1937   [no record of award]

1936   [no record of award]

1935   Caryl P. Haskins, “The Religious Background of the Divine Comedy

1934   William Edward Harrison, “Dante’s Mantle”

1933   (shared) Agnes Marion, “Michelangelo’s Debt to Dante”

1933   (shared) Jeannette G. Byington, “Milton’s Debt to Dante”

1932   (shared) David L. Marks , “Dante and Rousseau”

1932   (shared) Jeannette G. Byington , “The Relation of Dante’s Theological Doctrines to the Present Teachings of the Church of Rome”

1931   Gina R. Merola, “Influences in the Dolce Stil Nuovo

1930   Arthur M. Bullowa, “The Divine Comedy during the Renaissance”

1929   (shared) Ambrogio Donini, “Appunti per una storia del pensiero di Dante in rapporto al movimento Gioachimita”

1929   (shared) Paul H. Harris, “The Influence of Guido Cavalcanti on Dante”

1928   Anthony De Florio, “Il concetto dantesco delta giustizia divina”

1927   [no record of award]

1926   Marc Denkinger, “Aspects Modernes de Dante”

1925   (shared) Marthe Bloch, “The Rhythm of Dante’s Sonnets in the Vita Nuova

1925   (shared) May Belle Penn, “A Comparative Study of the Similes of the Divine Comedy and the Aeneid

1924   Fredericka Blankner, “The Influence of the Vita Nuova on Lorenzo de’ Medici’s Comento sopra alcuni de’ suoi sonetti

1923   [no record of award]

1922   Merritt Y. Hughes, “The Study of Dante in the Last Fifty Years”

1921   S. Shubow, “Dante in Politics”

1920   Walter Llewellyn Bullock, “Modern Traits in Dante”

1919   [no record of award]

1918   [no record of award]

1917   [no record of award]

1916   [no record of award]

1915   Amos Philip McMahon, “On Dante’s De Monarchia. A Study of Imperialism in Mediaeval and in Modern Times”

1914   Richard Ager Newhall, “Italian Ghibellinism as reflected in Dante”

1913   George Hussey Gifford, “Expressions of Gratitude in Dante”

1912   Roger Theodore Lafferty, “The Philosophy of Dante”

1911   [no record of award]

1910   [no record of award]

1909   Ralph Hayward Keniston, “The Dante Tradition in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries”

1908   [no record of award]

1907   Alexander Guy Holborn Spiers, “Characteristics of the Vita nuova

1906   Chandler Rathfon Post, “The Beginnings of the Influence of Dante in Castilian and Catalan Literature”

1905   [no record of award]

1904   [no record of award]

1903   Fritz Hagens, “A Critical Comment of the De Vulgari Eloquentia

1902   (awarded as Latham Prize) Alain Campbell White, “A Translation of the Quaestio de aqua et terra, and a Discussion of its Authenticity”

1902   (second prize) Alfonso de Salvio, “The Verse Endings in the Divina Commedia in which Dante has made ‘li vocaboli dire nelle sue rime altro che quello ch’erano appo gli altri dicitori usati di esprimere’”

1901   Henry Latimer Seaver, “A Translation of the Three Canzoni of the Convito

1900   Arthur Newton Peaslee, “A Metrical Rhyming Translation of the Three Canzoni of the Convito

1899   [no record of award]

1898   [no record of award]

1897   Annette Fiske, “Dante’s Obligations to Old French and Provençal Lyric Poetry”

1896   [no record of award]

1895   Jeremiah Denis Matthias Ford, “Dante’s Influence upon Spanish Literature during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries”

1894   Kenneth McKenzie, “The Rise of the Dolce Stil Nuovo

1893   [no record of award]

1892   [no record of award]

1891   [no record of award]

1890   (posthumously awarded as Latham Prize) Charles Sterret Latham, “A Translation into English of Dante’s Letters, with Explanatory and Historical Comments”

1889   [no record of award]

1888   George Rice Carpenter, “The Interpretation and Reconciliation of the Different Accounts of his Experiences after the Death of Beatrice, given by Dante in the Vita nuova and the Convivio

1887   Heinrich Conrad Bierwirth, “Dante’s Obligations to the Schoolmen, especially Thomas Aquinas”