Department of Medieval and Modern Languages and Linguistics, Italian
My research focuses on the language of Dante's 'Commedia' and in particular its hapax legomena, those words which occur only once within the poem. Not just the most important vernacular literary work of the European Middle Ages, the 'Commedia' is definitive in the history of the Italian language. Dante uses a vast corpus of words in the 'Commedia', many not seen before in the language and deriving from a variety of languages, dialects and fields of intellectual and practical activity.
My interest is in what kind of poetic effects are stimulated by a word with a unique mode of expressing its referent, and what receptive strategies are left to the poem’s readers at such moments of interpretative crisis. How do we moor ourselves when faced with a word with no other occurrences to contextualise it? And who is ‘we’? Which words are intelligible to readers from certain spheres but remain opaque to others? My research demonstrates the centrality of hapax legomena to Dante’s poetic method in the 'Commedia' both as extreme material presences chosen for their precise physical characteristics, and intensely metapoetic, paradigmatic of the processes of word selection and reception.
After graduating from my BA in English at the University of York in 2018, I then completed my MPhil in European Literatures at the University of Cambridge in 2020, through a Cambridge UK Masters & Selwyn Sykes Scholarship. My PhD project is supervised by Dr Heather Webb and is an OOC AHRC DTP Trinity College match-funded studentship.