Guyda Armstrong

Guyda Armstrong


Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I am the Director of the John Rylands Research Institute and Library at the University of Manchester, and a book historian and early modern literary scholar, who works at the intersection of languages, information design, and the digital. I formerly led the Faculty of Humanities H-SIF-funded Digital Humanities initiative, DH@Manchester, from 2014 until 2020. My current AHRC-funded research project, Envisioning Dante, c. 1472-c. 1630: Seeing and Reading the Early Printed Page is deeply situated in the Rylands’ world-leading early print collections and uses cutting-edge machine vision technologies to explore the evolution of the graphic design of Dante’s Divine Comedy through time and across different languages and reading communities.

Further information


My teaching reflects my research interests in Italian medieval literature, the history of the book and media studies, and translation, with an emphasis on new media technologies. I have taught on various language and cultural courses within the Italian department and wider School, including postgraduate medieval studies and book history modules, and in recent years have offered an Italian Level 2 and Level 3 module on Renaissance Florence, and Level 3 module on book history approaches to Dante's Divine Comedy.  

I have received teaching awards from the universities of Harvard and Manchester.

Research students 

I am currently involved in the supervision for two PhDs in the fields of early modern multilingual translation and medieval Italian visual culture and Dante's Commedia, with recent students completing PhDs in comparative Dante studies, book history, Venetian print culture, early modern French philosophical thought, and digital museology. I have also supervised undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations in medieval studies, translation studies, photography, popular music, gender and race under Italian colonialism, and modern Italian narrative.

I am available to supervise doctoral research in any of my areas of expertise, especially textual and media studies, Boccaccio and Italian premodern literature, and translation and media.

Digital teaching initiatives and awards

My course on the technological and cultural history of Dante's Divine Comedy has pioneered many different digital approaches. In 2011/12 it was a pilot for the SCARLET Augmented Reality project, which aimed to bring Special Collections into the age of the app. SCARLET received a number of awards for innovation in teaching, including runner-up for the ALT-C Learning Technology of the Year in 2012, and the Innovation in Higher Education award 2013. We were also nominated for the Outstanding Higher Education Technology of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards 2013. 




I have an MA in Modern European Languages from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in Italian Studies from the University of Leeds. Before joining the University of Manchester in 2007, I was Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Italian Studies and New Media at Brown University, USA (2001-2003), and also taught at Harvard University during my time in America. I held a Centre for the History of the Book postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Edinburgh in 2004, and lectured in Italian at Cardiff University from 2005 to 2007.

From 2014 to 2020 I was Academic Lead for Digital Humanities for the Faculty of Humanities, becoming founding Director of the University's Centre for Digital Humanities in 2018. From 2021-23 I was Scientific and Digital Lead for the John Rylands Research Institute and Library.

Editorial Board, Modern Languages Open (Digital Modern Languages), 2019-

Advisory Board, Book History, 2018-

Humanities and Data Science group, Alan Turing Institute, 2018-

Worldwide Advisory Board, Virtual Humanities Lab, Brown University, 2013-

Reviews Editor, Italian Studies, 2007-2013

Co-editor, New Readings, 2005-2007

Editorial Board, Heliotropia, 2003-05

Editorial Board, Decameron Web, 2001-03


Research interests

My current AHRC-funded research project, Envisioning Dante, c. 1472-c. 1630: Seeing and Reading the Early Printed Page is deeply situated in the Rylands’ world-leading early print collections and uses cutting-edge machine vision technologies to explore the evolution of the graphic design of Dante’s Divine Comedy through time and across different languages and reading communities.

Beyond this project, my research focuses primarily on Boccaccio and medieval Italian literature, and its transmission across languages and cultures from the medieval period to the present day. I am interested in the material, textual, and visual forms of the book and how they mediate and remake the text for multiple audiences, from medieval manuscripts up to digital media. I have published widely on Boccaccio and Dante and early modern translated print cultures, and my wider research interests include the information design of the translated book, digital humanities, and translation studies. I am also in the early stages of developing a new line of research on the soundscapes of the book.

My monograph, Boccaccio in English: A History in Books (UTP, 2013) reads 500 years of Boccaccio's reception through the material forms of his translated book-objects. I am currently completing a critical edition of the 17th-century English translation of Boccaccio's Decameron for the MHRA New Tudor and Stuart Translations series, and developing a new research project on the previously unstudied French Boccaccio manuscript I identified in the University's John Rylands Library. I am also one of the co-editors of the Cambridge Companion to Boccaccio (CUP, 2015).

From 2017-2019 I was Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded grant Petrarch Commentary and Exegesis in Renaissance Italy, c. 1350- c.1650, with Professor Simon Gilson (PI, Warwick) and Dr Federica Pich (Co-I, Leeds). The project reconstructed the corpus of exegetical material around Petrarch's vernacular poetic outputs, and I directed the Petrarch Digital Library component of the project, which has digitized 84 Petrarch editions held in the Special Collections of the John Rylands Library. A co-edited volume arising from this project will be published by Legenda in early 2023. 

With my colleagues Steve Milner (Manchester) and Rhiannon Daniels (Leeds), I organized the major UK conference on Boccaccio to commemorate his septcentenary, 'Locating Boccaccio in 2013', and curated the accompanying exhibition at the John Rylands Library. You can access the archived conference blog here. 

I am also the PI for the British-Academy funded Manchester Digital Dante project, which has digitized culturally significant incunable editions of the Divine Comedy from the holdings of the John Rylands Library. You can read the project blog here.

Research awards and projects

  • 2022-2025 PI, 'Envisioning Dante: Seeing and Reading the Early Printed Page 1472-1629', AHRC Standard Grant.
  • 2018 Named international collaborator on Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant, ‘Trajectories of Translation in Early Modern Britain (1473-1660): Routes, mediations, Networks’; PI Dr Marie-Alice Belle, Linguistique et traduction, Université de Montréal (2018-2024)
  • 2017-2019 ‘Petrarch Commentary and Exegesis in Renaissance Italy, c. 1350-c. 1650’ (Co-I), AHRC Standard Grant 2016
  • 2017 ‘Envisioning Dante’: John Rylands Research Institute Pilot collaboration grant/ Seebibyte Transfer Application Project, Visual Geometry research group, Department of Engineering, University of Oxford 
  • 2016-2017 ‘Dramatizing Boccaccio for the 21st century’. SALC Research Impact Award
  • 2015-16 ‘Fostering Digital Humanities Collaborations with Computer Science’. Co-I, University of Manchester Research Institute Pump-priming award
  • 2013 Short-Term Research Fellowship, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C.
  • 2008/09 British Academy Small Research Grant, for Manchester Digital Dante Project
  • 2006/07 AHRC Research Leave Scheme (Cardiff University)
  • 2006 Cardiff University Early Career Travel Grant (Visiting Researcher, Brown University)
  • 2004 University of Edinburgh, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Centre for the History of the Book Visiting Fellowship
  • 2001-2003 Brown University, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Early Modern Italian and New Media

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 5 - Gender Equality

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • John Rylands Research Institute and Library
  • Creative Manchester
  • Digital Futures


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