Personal profile

Overview

I am a book historian and Italianist, based at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian) and the John Rylands Research Institute and Library
My work is characterised by its interdisciplinary approach and transnational scope. I adopt book- and art-historical approaches to investigate the cultural agency of printed artefacts, at the intersection of materiality, (para)text, and imagery.
I take a special interest in Renaissance geography (the reception of Ptolemy) and the representation of cities in word and image (city praise in verse and prose, across Latin and European vernaculars; evolving visual languages from print antiquarianism to painterly vedutismo). 

Currently, I am a Research Associate on the AHRC-funded project ‘Envisioning Dante, c. 1472–c. 1630: Seeing and Reading the Early Printed Page,’ led by Prof Guyda Armstrong (Manchester) and Prof Simon Gilson (Oxford). The Envisioning Dante project will offer the first in-depth analysis of the material features of almost the entire corpus of printings (1472 – 1629) of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
By using machine learning technologies and image matching as well as book historical, literary, and art-historical approaches, the project will shed light on the multifaceted, socio-cultural messages held in these printed objects and chart their place in the history of the book.
The 1472 edition of the Commedia was one of the first vernacular books printed in Italy, and over the next 150 years more than 50 further editions would be printed. This frequency  made Dante's Divina Commedia - the poet's narrative journey through the realms of the afterlife: the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise - one of the most printed books of its time. The work's cultural influence across Europe and the world continues to this day. 
The multidisciplinary Dante team comprises colleagues based in both Manchester and Oxford (Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and the Visual Geometry Group in Engineering). It is difficult to immagine a more stimulating environment. 
As book historian happily based at Manchester's unrivalled John Rylands Library, I connect my own academic expertise with what I learn from day-to-day conversations with the curators, computer scientists, digital humanists, and imaging staff involved in the processes of digitisation and valorisation of Dante's ongoing legacy. 
My research departs from a thorough understanding of the inner workings of early modern publishing (the challenges and opportunities involved in the printing of text and imagery across the print centers of early modern Italy and northern Europe), to investigate the impact of Dante's authority on the survival, success, and self-fashioning of printers. Other areas of interest include cosmography, cartography, and the visualisation of space in ensuing editions of the Divina Commedia.

I am also a member of the TextDiveGlobal project, led by Prof Warren Boutcher (Queen Mary University of London). In my chapter for Textuality and Diversity: A Literary History of Europe and its Global Connections (Oxford University Press)I will juxtapose the political and commercial realities of Dutch colonial enterprise in 17th century Brazil - relatively short-lived, ultimately unsuccessful - with its versatile, editorial afterlife.
In particular, I here investigate how the Amsterdam based Blaeu publishers 
imposed parts of the visual and linguistic heritage familiar to European audiences on the cultural construction of new, New World history. 
Through the particular re-elaboration of sources by authors, editors, and printers - merging models from greco-roman antiquity with more locally embedded (partially indigenous), contemporary materials - an artificial sense of Eurocentric supremacy could be constructed across time, from overtly highlighting victory visually, to trying to textually hide defeat. 
This strand of my research came about as the serendipitous result of collaborations with colleagues based across the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, and the Americas. Personal and professional highlights include the seminar Dutch Brazil in Print and Poetry, co-organised at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR) with Dr Matthijs Jonker (KNIR), and the series of panels on New World Narratives organised at the 2023 annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (San Juan, Puerto Rico) by Dr Giacomo Comiati and Dr Arthur Weststeijn (University of Padua).

Previously, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the university of Padua (2020-2023), and visiting fellow at the Scaliger Institute (Leiden University Library) and the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Instituut (NIKI) in Florence. Over the years, my work has  benefitted especially from the generous support of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR), the Newberry Library (Chicago), the Bibliographical Society, and the Society for Renaissance Studies

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Renaissance Studies , The University of Warwick

Award Date: 1 Nov 2019

Master of Arts, Book History , Rijksuniversiteit Leiden (Leiden Univ)

Bachelor of Arts, Italian studies (cum laude), Rijksuniversiteit Leiden (Leiden Univ)

External positions

Honorary Fellow, The University of Warwick

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • John Rylands Research Institute and Library

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or