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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Alessia Carrai

(c) The University of Cambridge
PhD Candidate
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 335 000 (Main Faculty number)

Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Raised Faculty Building
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue
United Kingdom


In 2013, I graduated cum laude from the University of Florence with a Bachelor’s Degree in Modern Philology. Afterwards, I continued my studies at the University of Bologna, where I completed my Master’s Degree cum laude defending a thesis on the invocations to the Muses in Dante’s Commedia.

In 2017, I started my academic path at the University of Cambridge, funded by the Keith Sykes Postgraduate Research Scholarship. I obtained an MPhil in European, Latin American and Comparative Literatures and Cultures, with distinction. My final thesis (‘”Infino a qui l’un giogo di Parnaso / assai mi fu”. A Problem of Reception and Interpretation in Dante’s Commedia’) analysed the medieval commentary tradition on Latin texts in order to explain some passages from Dante’s poem.

Since October 2018, I have been a PhD candidate in Italian Studies at Selwyn College. My PhD is funded by the Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities.

Research interests: 

I specialise in medieval Italian literature and Dante studies. I am particularly interested in Dante’s relationship with his Latin sources and in the reception and circulation of classical texts during the Middle Ages.

My PhD project centres on Dante’s reworking of the metapoetic myths related to Parnassus, with a focus on the last section of Purgatorio. I want to investigate whether and in what way the ideal of human perfection and perfectibility that emerges from the second cantica (and especially from the cantos of Earthly Paradise) is connected with the classical ideal of art, mediated by classical mythology connected with Parnassus.

The approach that I propose involves a contextual investigation of the reception of classical texts during the Middle Ages, in an attempt to determine what Dante actually read and how. To this aim, this research will include a careful analysis of glosses and commentaries to Latin texts, as well as a study of the principal sources of medieval mythography.