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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Nicolò Morelli






Dr Heather Webb

About me:

Before coming to Cambridge, I studied at the University of Bologna. Here, in 2009, I was awarded a first-class Bachelor’s degree in Arts cum laude, having completed a philological dissertation on the sonnets of Lorenzo Moschi, a late fourteenth-century Florentine poet, whose texts were mostly unpublished. In 2012, I completed my Master’s degree in Italian Studies cum laude, for which I received a distinction defending a thesis worthy of publication on the manuscript tradition of Petrarch’s Triumphi. The following year, I broadened my education with a Master of Science in Management at the Business School of the University of Bologna.

Afterwards, I started my academic path at the University of Cambridge. In June 2014, I obtained an MPhil in European Literature and Culture, with distinction, at St Catharine’s College, presenting a thesis on Dante and mediaeval bestiaries, for which I was selected for a Sir John Claypoole Scholarship. Since October 2014, I have been a PhD candidate in Italian studies at Pembroke College. As part of my doctoral training, in autumn 2015, I undertook an eight-week shadowing programme in language teaching, which qualified me to work as a language supervisor in the Department of Italian.

My PhD is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Cambridge, and Pembroke College.

My research:

The aim of my research is to gain a better understanding of Petrarch’s animal imagery and vocabulary in relation to his precursors. I intend to carry out a comparative study between Petrarch’s Canzoniere and the works of the mediaeval poets that he quotes, as his models, in the song ‘Lasso me’ (Rvf, LXX), namely Arnaut Daniel, Guido Cavalcanti, Dante, and Cino da Pistoia. My goal is to explore Petrarch’s attitude towards the traditional repertoire of animal images, investigating whether and how he re-used and re-semanticised these.

The choice of Petrarch’s Canzoniere as the main area of enquiry of my research is based on two reasons. First, the Canzoniere is the only vernacular work of Petrarch’s to be completed, ordered, and polished as a coherent macro-text. Second, the Canzoniere played a crucial role in Italian fourteenth-century poetry, acting – through its new poetic norms – as a turning point between previous and successive poetry.

As well as medieval Italian literature, my research interests include Occitan and Old French literature, Italian early modern literature, palaeography, philology and textual criticism.


ITA1: Use of Italian

Conference papers:

‘Dante as a bear: A bestial poetic voice’, paper presented at the IX Annual Graduate Conference in Italian Studies, University College Cork, Ireland, 27 February 2016

Other activities:

I am one of the three coordinators of the Research Seminar Series in the Department of Italian, Cambridge University.

In 2015 I also prepared teaching materials on Italian grammar for the HE+ project. Through the HE+ project, the University of Cambridge is working together with state schools and colleges to help A-level students to develop their academic skills and submit competitive applications to highly selective universities.

In 2014, I worked as a translator for Cambridge Assessment, on the team providing admission tests for Italian universities.