Nov. 17, 2010

Geneseo student wins top Dante prize

Will Porter

The college community celebrates its rich history in Dante academics. For the second time in five years, a Geneseo student has won the esteemed Dante Society of America's 2010 Dante Prize, a major national recognition.

The society has presented the annual prize since 1887 for the best competitive essay by an undergraduate in an American or Canadian college or university on a subject related to the life or works of the Italian poet Dante.

Will Porter '12 won for his essay, "'L'arco de lo essilio': The Nexus of History, Pilgrimage and Prophecy in the Heaven of Mars."

"I'm incredibly honored," said Porter, an English major. "I am grateful to Professor Ron Herzman, who taught the Dante course, and to the rest of the English department faculty members for their guidance and commitment to teaching."

Herzman, a distinguished teaching professor, is a world-renown expert in Dante, who has mentored many students.Porter's essay, which he wrote and submitted last spring as a sophomore, is about the nature and significance of exile in the "Divine Comedy" and how Dante's own exile can be transformed into spiritual pilgrimage, shown through the prophecy of his great-great-grandfather.

"We're thrilled that the Dante Society has identified Will as one of the young scholars who is shaping the future of Dante studies," said Paul Schacht, professor and chair of the Department of English. "This national recognition is testimony both to Will's extraordinary critical talent and to the remarkably high level at which our English majors are working."

In 2006, then-Geneseo student Lisa Caruana '05 shared the prize with a student at Harvard College. Prize winners in others years have come from institutions such as Princeton, Duke and Yale.