Italian professor wins national book award

Author: Arts and Letters


Christian Moevs, associate professor of Romance languages and literatures at the University of Notre Dame, has been awarded the Howard R. Marraro Prize by the Modern Language Association (MLA) for his recent book “The Metaphysics of Dante’s `Comedy’,” in which he sheds new light on the interpretation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”

Published by Oxford University Press, the book explores Dante’s metaphysics – his understanding of reality. Moevs argues that if we are to resolve the central problem of the “Comedy’s” claim that the status of revelation, vision or experiential record is morethan imaginative literature, then Dante’s metaphysics must be recovered. Through this exploration, Moevs arrives at the conclusion that Dante believed that all of what we perceive as reality is a creation or projection of conscious being, which can only be known as oneself.

A Notre Dame faculty member since 1994, Moevs specializes in Dante, medieval Italian literature, lyric poetry and poetics, and the intersection between literature and philosophy, and serves as a faculty fellow in the Medieval Institute. He is a past recipient of Notre Dame’s Sheedy Award for Excellence in Teaching and Kaneb Teaching Award, as well as the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures’ Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his doctorate from Columbia University.

Established in 1973, the Marraro Prize is awarded biennially for an outstanding book in the field of Italian literature or comparative literature involving Italian. This year’s prize also was awarded to Graziella Parati of Dartmouth College. The MLA will present the awards during its annual convention Dec. 28 in Philadelphia.

Contact: Christian Moevs, 574-631-6781,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on December 01, 2006.