Exploring Dante in the Digital Age

Blending technology with classic literature for a unique learning experience

User Experience
User Interface
Front-end Development


Back in 2000, Georgetown University's MyDante project began with a bold vision: to transform students’ interaction with Dante's "Divine Comedy." Under Professor Frank Ambrosio, the initiative sought to deepen readers’ connection with this classic, inspired by the reflective practices of medieval monks.

Crafted as a digital version of ancient manuscripts, MyDante encouraged students to intertwine their insights with Dante’s verses, nurturing a learning community where individual contributions wove into a rich tapestry of perspectives.

The Challenge

At the heart of MyDante was the creation of a 'technology of contemplation'. We aimed to build more than just a digital interface; our goal was to craft a vibrant, interactive space where students could engage with Dante's text.

We envisioned MyDante as a communal hub, where every annotation, image, sound clip, and journal entry contributed by users was a step towards a collective exploration of the text—a digital sanctuary of sorts. This approach promotes deep, reflective reading, allowing students to layer their insights onto Dante's verses, much like monks did with manuscripts in the past.

The Result

MyDante strikes a balance between individual and collaborative reading experiences within a virtual community, providing what has been referred to as the "social thrill of shared immersion," all while seamlessly integrating teaching and tech.

This project extends far beyond Dante’s work. Our technology’s extensibility and transferability are two of its greatest assets, and we hope that this project and future iterations will show not only what is possible with the framework we have created, but also underscore the value of immersive, purposeful reading in the digital age.

We feel quite strongly that an intentional, focused use of technology can create a deeper, more engaged interaction between students and difficult literary and philosophical texts.

— Francis J. Ambrosio , Associate Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University