Dr Leyla Livraghi

School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Bio

I am an IRC postdoctoral researcher at the Italian Department. I studied and worked at the Universities of Pisa, Cambridge, Notre Dame, Fribourg and Frankfurt, and most recently held a post-doctoral position at the University of Pisa, where I collaborated with the ‘Hypermedia Dante Network’.

My research interests embrace the transmission and transformation of Latin culture and texts from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, Dante, the early commentators to the Commedia (especially Benvenuto da Imola), Medieval Italian lyric poetry (Cino da Pistoia), Neoclassical art and literature (Foscolo), and the implementation of digital knowledge and resources in the Humanities.

Abstract 

My research project is entitled: Livy’s legacy in Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio: the practice of reading history in Italian culture from the late 13th to the 14th century.

The rediscovery of Livy, the most renowned Roman historian, took place in Italy in the late 13th century. This event had huge cultural significance, since the rediscovery of Classical texts and the growing interest towards history were crucial elements in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern era. In this period, Dante (b. 1265), Petrarch and Boccaccio (d. 1375), the ‘Three Crowns’ of Italian literature, flourished. Despite the unified label, scholarly consensus has traditionally drawn a sharp line between Dante, regarded as a fully Medieval author who did not participate in the rediscovery of the classics nor know Livy, and the other two, considered true precursors of Humanism and the Renaissance fully engaged with the classics.

My project aims to overcome this distinction and demonstrate a more gradual evolution from the Late Middle Ages to the Renaissance. To this end, I will study how the three authors, including Dante, used Livy and other related historical sources to represent a group of famous men and women from Antiquity whose deeds had become exemplary. This perspective will allow me to analyse each author’s response to key issues, like the relationship between intellectuals and political power and the roles of women in society, as they developed in this crucial period of Western cultural innovation.

The main questions my research will answer are: How did each author integrate the newly discovered Livy with historical knowledge inherited from the Medieval tradition? What can we say about their different approaches to Classical authority? How could the same exemplary male characters be used to advocate for different political models like the universal empire in Dante and the government of his lord-patron in Petrarch? Were Medieval moral stereotypes about women progressively abandoned to grant more complexity and realism to the female universe, as in the Renaissance?

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