Prizes and Awards

Each year the Dante Society of America awards the following prizes to recognize excellence among undergraduate and graduate students and secondary school teachers in North America in promoting a greater understanding of Dante’s life, time, and works:

For a listing of current and previous prize winners, please consult the following links:


The Durling Prize

Established in 2016 in memory of our late colleague Robert M. Durling, this award recognizes excellence in the teaching of Dante’s life, time, and works by educators working in North American secondary schools (i.e., high school and middle school). The prizewinner receives a monetary award in the amount of $1,000.

The Durling Prize is awarded to an educator who demonstrates effective and innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching Dante, whether in a single unit, semester or year-long course. Submissions must include the following items: 1) a two-page resume that highlights the instructor's involvement with Dante; 2) a description of the applicant's involvement with Dante (between 500 and 1,000 words in length); 3) an annotated syllabus and detailed assignment descriptions; and 4) one letter of support from a former student or colleague involved with the project who is not the applicant (i.e., a peer observation). Applicants may (but are not required to) send in additional supplementary materials, such as: recordings of class instructions; examples of digital and other teaching aids used in the classroom; sample student work; student evaluations; or additional letters of support.

Nominations for the prize – either self-nominations or nominations submitted by someone who is not the applicant – must be received by July 1 of each year. Nominated parties will be contacted by The Dante Society of America and asked to submit a complete dossier by September 1. All nominations and submissions must be sent as e-mail attachments to The Dante Society of America at dantesociety@gmail.com. Files should be saved as documents with either a .doc, .docx, or an .rtf extension. No hardcopy submissions will be accepted.

A special committee of the Society will judge the submissions. The announcement of the winners will be made in late autumn and published in the spring issue of the Society’s Newsletter; they will also appear in the Annual Report of the Society. Candidates not in receipt of the award remain eligible to participate in a future competition, for which submission guidelines must be followed.

Additional donations to the Durling Prize Fund can be made by credit card using the contributions form on our website (member login required), where there is a designated entry for the “Durling Prize,” or by calling our publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press, toll free at (800) 548-1784 (or 410-516-6987 outside the USA and Canada) during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00am until 5:00pm EST. Donations may also be sent by check made payable to the "Dante Society of America, Inc." to: Donations by check should be sent to Michael Sherberg, Treasurer / The Dante Society of America / P.O. Box 600616 / Newtonville, MA 02460, with a memo indicating that the contribution is for the Durling Prize.


The Dante Prize and the Charles Hall Grandgent Award

Since 1887 The Dante Society of America has presented annual prizes for the best student essays on a subject related to the life or works of Dante Alighieri. The Dante Prize of five hundred dollars ($500) is offered for the best essay submitted by an undergraduate enrolled in any college or university in the US, US territories, or Canada, or by anyone not enrolled as a graduate student who has received an undergraduate degree from a college or university in the US, US territories, or Canada within the past year. The Charles Hall Grandgent Award of seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750) is offered for the best essay submitted by a student enrolled in any graduate program in the US, US territories, or Canada.

Undergraduate essays should be no longer than 7,500 words and graduate essays should be no longer than 10,000 words, including footnotes but excluding bibliography. The essay submitted can be a self-standing work or a portion of a larger work. In the latter case, writers are asked to include in the submission a description of how the essay fits within the larger whole. That description will not count towards the essay's overall word limit, but should not exceed 750 words for undergraduate essays or 1,000 words for graduate essays.

The deadline for submissions is June 30 of each year. All submissions must be sent as e-mail attachments to The Dante Society of America at dantesociety@gmail.com. Files should be saved as documents with either a .doc, .docx, or an .rtf extension. No hardcopy submissions will be accepted. Students may submit only one essay per year, but may submit entries each year they meet the eligibility requirements for enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate program.

Each author should provide a cover page (as the first page of the file) giving her or his name; institutional affiliation; local, permanent and e-mail addresses; and the title and category (undergraduate or graduate) of the essay. The author’s name should not appear on the essay title page (to follow the cover page) or on any other page of the text since the essays are submitted anonymously to the readers. Essays may be submitted in either English or Italian. Quotations from Dante's works should be cited in the original language. Students working primarily with English translations may quote the translations, but they should provide the corresponding Italian or Latin text in parentheses. Illustrations are acceptable if they are analyzed in the essay, or if they help illuminate a point made in the essay. The format of the essay should conform to either the Chicago or MLA Style Sheet guidelines. Body text should be set in Times New Roman 12, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins.

A special committee of the Society will judge the submissions. In either competition, the committee may, at its discretion, split the award between two contestants (each to receive one half of the prize), or it may make no award. The announcement of the winners and their essay titles will be made in early autumn and published in the fall issue of the Society’s Newsletter; they will also appear in the Annual Report of the Society. The essays remain the intellectual property of their authors.


2017 Winners

The Prize Committee is very pleased to announce the winners of the three prizes sponsored by the Dante Society of America for the 2017 calendar year: the Dante Prize for best undergraduate essay; the Charles Hall Grandgent Award for best graduate essay; and the Robert Durling Prize for an outstanding educator at the secondary school level.

  • The Dante Prize was awarded to Charles East (Princeton University), for his original reading of Inferno 5, ‘Slipping through the Cracks: A Study of the Elusive Literal Reading of Dante’s Contrapasso for the Lustful’.
  • The Grandgent Award was presented to Andrés Amitai Wilson (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), for his essay, ‘“For the Love of God”: The Centrality of Bernard of Clairvaux’s Song of Songs Commentaries in Dante’s Divine Comedy’, which is a sophisticated comparative analysis of this cluster of texts.
  • The second annual Durling Prize was awarded to Daniel Christian of Gilman School, in Baltimore, for his imaginative, innovative approach to the teaching of Dante, enabling his students to lead themselves through Dante’s poem and fostering creative intellectual engagement with the text and its afterlife.  

Since 1887 The Dante Society of America has presented annual prizes for the best student essays on a subject related to the life or works of Dante Alighieri. The Dante Prize of five hundred dollars ($500) is offered for the best essay submitted by an undergraduate enrolled in any college or university in the US, US territories, or Canada, or by anyone not enrolled as a graduate student who has received an undergraduate degree from a college or university in the US, US territories, or Canada within the past year. The Charles Hall Grandgent Award of seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750) is offered for the best essay submitted by a student enrolled in any graduate program in the US, US territories, or Canada.

Established in 2016 in memory of our late colleague, the Durling Prize recognizes excellence in the teaching of Dante’s life, time, and works by educators working in North American secondary schools. The prizewinner receives a monetary award in the amount of $1,000. The Durling Prize is awarded to an educator who demonstrates effective and innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching Dante, whether in a single unit, semester, or year-long course.

We warmly congratulate this year’s prize winners.

The Prize Committee of the DSA

  • Francesca Southerden, University of Oxford (Chair)
  • Francesco Ciabattoni, Georgetown University
  • Jessica Levenstein, Horace Mann High School

Previous Winners

Please consult the following pages for listings of the winners of our annual prizes and awards since their inceptions: