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Research

I am a researcher in classical and medieval Latin literature who combines a rigorous philological reading of the texts with interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches, particularly from gender, posthumanism, ecocriticism, and medical humanities. Having recently finished a project on Medieval Latin fables (Il Romulus della Recensio Gallicana: Testo, Traduzione e Commento; forthcoming with Sismel), I am currently finalizing my monograph on Ovid’s Heroides and an edited volume on Body and Medicine in Latin Poetry. I am also preparing an edited volume on reinterpretations of Sappho's poetic persona. My next book project focuses on “The (Diseased) Body and the Landscape: Rethinking Human-Environment Interaction within Plague Narratives from the Roman World”.

Seeking the Mothers in Ovid’s Heroides

My first monograph, Seeking the Mothers in Ovid’s Heroides (Cornell University Press, 2024), explores motherhood within Ovid’s Heroides through gender-informed readings. Authored by Ovid (1st century BC ca.), the Heroides are cast as elegiac epistles penned by female characters of mythology, such as Penelope (writing to Ulysses), Dido (writing to Aeneas), Medea (writing to Jason). These characters consistently challenge stereotypical gender and social roles, as well as traditional literary and generic patterns. By focusing on the maternal experience, my monograph resituates the Heroides within the most recent gender-based readings of Ovid’s poetry, as well as addressing works dealing with motherhood in the Roman world (e.g. Dixon; Augoustakis; McAuley). While the general interest in motherhood in literature has been leading classical scholars to produce fresh contributions on this very topic (e.g. Keith & Sharrock 2020), little attention has been given to motherhood within Roman elegy, where its presence is perhaps unexpected.

 

By building upon the epistles’ challenge to traditional conceptions of male heroism, I innovatively demonstrate how Ovid has the heroines transform their motherhood into a rhetorical tool. Motherhood serves to enhance the heroines’ ironical discourse and the gender role reversals that occur within these epistles; it allows the Ovidian fictional personas to reshape the previous literary tradition and thus cast themselves as masters of their narrative. This liminal role of the heroines as both narrators and (narrated) characters within their letters articulates the coexistence of different narratological levels and gendered voices. By navigating this fluidity of poetic voices and gender identities, my monograph (1) enhances our understanding of ironical discourse within Ovidian poetry, (2) sheds new light on the manipulations of previous literary and cultural models within Latin literature, (3) and contributes to the broader discussion on feminist (and, more broadly, theoretical) interpretations of literary texts.

Body and Medicine in Latin Poetry

My second major project is a co-edited volume on the interactions between medical knowledge and poetry within Latin literature (Body and Medicine in Latin Poetry), whose publication is scheduled for 2024 (De Gruyter). Alongside editing the volume, I am writing the introduction and a chapter (“The Body and the City: Disease, Fury, and Self-Mutilation in Seneca’s Oedipus”). This volume reveals the connections between Roman literature and ancient theories of the body, thus showing how indebted Roman poetic production was to both ancient Greek and Roman medical traditions. As such, it engages with researchers and students interested in ancient Greek and Roman medicine (and its reception in contemporary discussions concerning bodily and mental health), Roman poetry, ancient senses and emotions, as well as medical humanities. 

Other Minor Projects

Along with these two major projects, I am currently finalizing or preparing several articles and book chapters, which focus on Roman law within Ovidian poetry, ecocritical approaches to Latin literature, and the intersections between ancient medicine and Senecan drama. (See my CV for a full list of my publications and ongoing projects)

The (Diseased) Body and the Landscape

The (Diseased) Body and the Landscape: Rethinking Human-Environment Interaction within Plague Narratives from the Roman World” explores the interaction between representations of suffering bodies and tormented landscapes.

Climate change, depletion of natural resources, and extreme weather conditions compel us to think about the ongoing environmental crisis. Aside from scientists, anthropologists, and experts in the political, social, and economical sciences, scholars within the Humanities have also been reconsidering how they might engage with issues of ecology and eco-sustainability, and the relationship between humans and ecosystems. My project rereads the relationship between humans and environmental damage within Latin poetry through an ecocritical approach, specifically by focusing on four case studies (Lucretius, Vergil, Ovid, Seneca), where the descriptions of environmental collapses are strongly intertwined with, and interdependent upon, great plagues.

While ecocriticism has been fruitfully applied to modern and contemporary literature and history, ecocritics have largely overlooked pre-modern and classical material. Moreover, the work that explicitly tackles Latin literary texts through an ecocritical approach is very limited. By exploring the relationship between plagues and environmental collapse within Latin poetry, my project fills this gap, thereby contributing to a reassessment of our understanding of the natural world within Roman sources. The selected case studies are particularly appropriate to show how ineffective is the human attempt to explain and control nature.

This lack of understanding of the mechanisms regulating natural phenomena articulates the dialectic between an anthropocentric, constructed notion of nature as an explainable and coherent system and the natural world as enigmatic and self-controlled. Alongside shedding light on the representations of plagues and environmental collapses in Roman sources, my project also engages with the broader and interdisciplinary debate on the Anthropocene, thus de-territorializing the role of humans as masters of the natural world.

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