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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Jonathan Wiles

Jonny Wiles
PhD Candidate
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 

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


Jonny completed his BA in Italian Language and Literature at Christ Church, Oxford in 2019. He then took the ELAC MPhil course at Cambridge, writing a dissertation on centres and centrality in Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. His doctoral dissertation also focuses on Dante, but he has previously written on Boccaccio, Anna Maria Ortese, and the modern Italian lyric.

Recent research projects: 

Jonny’s research explores representations of absence in the “Divine Comedy”. Despite its being a poem that seeks to contain the universe in a single volume, it consistently draws attention to what it does not (and cannot)  contain. In his doctoral study, Jonny is examining the ways in which Dante makes absences conspicuous in his poem, and the cumulative effect of the resultant empty spaces which permeate the text.


  • Jebb Studentship, 2020-present
  • Cecil Roth Memorial Prize, 2019
  • DART Poetry Prize, 2019
  • Benjamin Zephaniah Poetry Prize, 2012

Conference Papers

  • Forthcoming: “AAA Cercasi: Absence, Affect Antiquity in the Commedia” Cambridge 2023 SIS Conference.
  • “La trama, l’ordita, e il vano: weaving and emptiness in Dante’s Commedia,” Text and Techne: Textual Poetics, Poetic Textiles, June 2023.
  • “‘(D)ov’è?’: Prospettive sulla perdita fra l’Inferno e il Paradiso,” Alma Dante, Università di Bologna, May 2023.
  • “‘Vegna Medusa’: Raffigurando gli spazi ‘vuoti’ della Commedia, University of Palermo, October 2022.
  • “‘Quel gran seggio: Approaching Absence in Paradiso,” Dante’s Futures, University College Cork, November 2022.
  • Scemare, o come la Commedia si svirgilia” Alma Dante, Università di Bologna, June 2022.
  • “‘Scemare,’ or approaching ‘Virgilessness’,” Dante’s Futures: A Centenary Celebration of New Voices in UK and Irish Dante Studies, November 2021.
  • “‘Non posso tacere’: la materialità della confessione in Inferno 13,” Alma Dante, Università di Bologna, September 2021.
  • “Inferno 23: Voice, Velocity, and the Pursuit of Gappiness” Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time, New York University and the Dante Society of America, July 2021. Co-presented with Robin Kirkpatrick.
  • Ov’è? Absence, Desire, and the Meaning of Narrative in Dante’s Commedia,” Dante’s Afterlives, In Via Dante Network, June 2021.
Published works: 
  • “Scemare, or Approaching ‘Virgillessness’,” Bibliotheca Dantesca, 5 (2022): 312-326.
  • “‘Tutto avem veduto’? Enumeration and ‘Forgetfulness’ in Dante’s Commedia,” MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 17 (2022): 6-14.
  • “Se non…” and “I vostri mali…”: Interpretative Issues of Infernal Aposiopesis, Annali d'italianistica, 3 (2021): 205-228.
  • “Centro del cammin”: Centers and Centrality in the ‘Commedia,’ Bibliotheca Dantesca, 3 (2020): 106-145. love, and/or the storm, Broken Sleep Books, 2020.


Other activities and roles

Alongside his part-time PhD research, Jonny works in London as an actor and a tutor.