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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Heather Webb

Dr Heather Webb
Professor of Medieval Italian Literature and Culture
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
(+44) (0)1223 335 852

Selwyn College
Grange Road


Heather Webb (PhD Stanford 2004) specialises in medieval Italian literature and culture with a particular interest in poetry, theology, philosophy, and visual culture. She is the author of The Medieval Heart (Yale, 2010), Dante’s Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman (Oxford University Press, 2016), and Dante, Artist of Gesture (Oxford University Press, September 2022). With George Corbett, she is editor of Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy, 3 vols (Open Book Publishers, 2015, 2016, 2017). With Pierpaolo Antonello, she is editor of Mimesis, Desire, and the Novel: René Girard and Literary Criticism (Michigan State Press, 2015). She is Senior Editor of Italian Studies for pre-1700 material. 

Professor Webb welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with relevant research interests.

Research interests: 
  • Dante Studies
  • Catherine of Siena
  • Medieval Women Religious
  • Boccaccio Studies
  • Early Italian Lyric Poetry
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Illustrations of the Comedy
  • Medieval prayer manuals and preachers’ manuals
  • History of Emotions/Affects
  • Visual cultures in conversation with textual cultures
  • Bodies and embodiment; gestures and kinesis
  • Transcultural responses to Dante and the Italian Middle Ages
Recent research projects: 
  • Dante's Vita nova: A Collaborative Reading  (co-edited volume)
  • Affect/Sensation/Emotion in Medieval France and Italy (research group)

Selected published works

Dante, Artist of Gesture (Oxford University Press, September 2022)

Dante's Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman (Oxford University Press, 2016)

The Medieval Heart (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).  241 pp.  ISBN: 978-0-300-15393- 4.

Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy, ed. with George Corbett (in three volumes) (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015, 2016, 2017).

Mimesis, Desire, and the Novel: René Girard and Literary Criticism, ed. with Pierpaolo Antonello (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2015).

‘Pluralità, azione e diletto in Dante e Arendt’, in Rivista di letteratura italiana, xxxix, 3, 2021, pp. 33-43.

‘La gestualità della richiesta in Purgatorio V e VI: Coreografie classiche e cristiane a confronto’ Italianistica «Italianistica. Rivista di letteratura italiana», 1, (2021), 169-183.

‘Corporealities in Italian Studies’, with Derek Duncan, Italian Studies, 75:2, (2020), 176-193.

‘Botticelli’s Illustrations of Dante’s Paradiso: The Construction of Conjoined Vision,’ I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance 22, no. 2 (Fall 2019): 187-208.

‘Il rossore profetico’ in Dante e il profetismo, Giuseppe Ledda, ed. (Ravenna: Centro Dantesco dei Frati Minori Conventuali) 2019, 69-83.    

‘Postures of Penitence in Dante’s Purgatorio’, Dante Studies CXXXI (2013), 219-236.

‘Three Paths in One Journey’, with George Corbett, L’Alighieri, 41 (2013), 63-81.

‘Power Differentials, Unreliable Models, and Homoerotic Desire in the Commedia’, Italian Studies, 68.1 (2013), 17-35.

‘Inferno from a Purgatorial (and Paradisiacal) Perspective’, Dante’s Inferno, ed. by Patrick Hunt (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2012), 49-62.

‘Dante’s Definition of Life’, Dante Studies, 129 (2011), 47-62.

‘Deceit, Desire, and Conversion in Girard and Dante’, Religion and Literature. Special issue: ‘Deceit, Desire and the Novel 50 Years Later: The Religious Dimension’, ed. by Ann W. Astell and Justin Jackson, 43.3 (2011), 200-207.

‘“Lacrime cordiali”: Catherine of Siena and the Value of Tears’, A Companion to Catherine of Siena, ed. by George Ferzoco, Beverly Kienzle, Carolyn Muessig (Leiden:  Brill, 2011) 99-112.

‘Catherine of Siena’s Heart’, Speculum, 80.3 (2005), 802-817. Reprinted in Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, vol. 116, (Farmington Hills: Cengage Gale, 2010).