The Cowan-Blakely Memorial Library lends copies of Dante’s Comedy to interested souls and will soon begin to lend a smaller, furrier Dante in hopes of promoting student involvement within the library.
Dante the groundhog is a hand puppet the library has designated as its official mascot. According to Zannah Buck, reference librarian, the mascot serves to connect students with the library’s social media accounts and to encourage student involvement in the library. Students will be able to borrow Dante the groundhog after April 16 and tag the library in any photos or videos taken with him.
“Everyone here ends up studying the Divine Comedy as part of the Core, and the groundhog is a fabulous extra here at UD,” said Buck, when asked why a groundhog dressed as Dante was an appropriate mascot. “There was room to play with [the idea], and so we will be creating videos, little tutorials, and we thought maybe students can give him tours of the library.”
Buck has been tasked with clothing the puppet and is currently in the process of sewing Dante the groundhog’s outfit using medieval stitches and buttons. She hopes students will create other costumes for little Dante and lead him around the library as Virgil and Beatrice would.
Still, as the University of Dallas ascends into the second semester, most students have already read the works of the poet and the plight of the pilgrim in Lit Trad II and are familiar with Dante, but few students have heard of Dante the groundhog.
Clement Say, physics major and library student worker, commented that he had not even been aware of such a project.
Nevertheless, students can see how a groundhog dressed as Dante is apt, because both figures see their shadows and become frightened.
Dr. Anthony Nussmeier, assistant professor of Italian and “Dante-ista,” expressed his opinion on the project:
“I cannot think of any other mascot as improbable and absurd as it seems that would represent better the University of Dallas,” said Nussmeier. “In a certain sense, it unites the academic and the convivial. The groundhog representing a great convivial tradition of partying and of course drinking a little bit. Dante of course representing the Core.”
To further promote Dante the groundhog, the library is encouraging students to visit after April 16 to provide the voice for Dante by reading a couple of lines of the “Comedy” in Italian and English.
Unlike Dante the pilgrim, Dante the groundhog is a permanent resident of the library and is expected to be a star.