Professor of Italian
Tutorial Fellow, Somerville College
Lecturer in Italian, St Catherine’s College and Lady Margaret Hall
Francesca Southerden holds a BA (Honours) in Italian and French from Somerville College, Oxford and a D.Phil in Italian literature from Hertford College, Oxford. Before joining Oxford she was Assistant Professor of Italian and Medieval-Renaissance Studies at Wellesley College, MA (2010-16) and Mary Ewart Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Somerville College (2007-10).
Francesca Southerden’s research focuses on the relationship between language and desire in the works of Dante and Petrarch and in medieval Italian lyric poetry more broadly. Her most recent book, Dante and Petrarch in the Garden of Language (Legenda, 2022), explores the significance of the garden for Dante and Petrarch's thinking about language and desire and how the authors reimagine Eden in their poetic works. This book develops, within a medieval context, the concern with the relationship between desire, subjectivity, and poetic space that was at the heart of her first monograph, Landscapes of Desire in the Poetry of Vittorio Sereni (Oxford University Press, 2012). She is interested in the relationship between literature and critical theory, including affect studies, ecocriticism, and queer theory, and in the concept of lyric from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Francesca Southerden teaches a broad range of topics within medieval Italian literature. She is interested in hearing from graduate students who would like to work on thirteenth- or fourteenth century Italian literature and culture, especially Dante, Petrarch and the early lyric tradition. She is also happy to supervise projects with an interdisciplinary focus within medieval Italian literature.
Dante and Petrarch in the Garden of Language (London: Legenda, 2022)
Landscapes of Desire in the Poetry of Vittorio Sereni (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
Possibiities of Lyric: Reading Petrarch in Dialogue, with an Epilogue by Antonella Anedda Angioy (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2020), co-authored with Manuele Gragnolati
The Oxford Handbook of Dante, co-edited with Manuele Gragnolati and Elena Lombardi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)
Desire in Dante and the Middle Ages, co-edited with Manuele Gragnolati, Tristan Kay, and Elena Lombardi (Oxford: Legenda, 2012).
Articles and Chapters in Books
'The Voice Astray: Caroline Bergvall's Dante', forthcoming in postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies
'Ad modum floris: Petrarch's Narcissus between the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta and Triumphi, forthcoming in MLR.
'Becoming Laurel: Openness and Intensity in Petrarch’s Rerum vulgarium fragmenta 23 and
228’, co-authored with Manuele Gragnolati, in Openness in Medieval Europe, ed. by Manuele
Gragnolati and Almut Suerbaum (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2022).
‘The Lyric Mode’, in The Oxford Handbook of Dante, ed. by Gragnolati, Lombardi and
Southerden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)
‘Dante Unbound: A Vulnerable Life and the Openness of Interpretation’, co-authored
with Manuele Gragnolati and Elena Lombardi, in The Oxford Handbook of Dante, ed. by
Gragnolati, Lombardi and Southerden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)
‘Parlare e lagrimar vedrai insieme’, in Citar Dante [Espressioni dantesche per l’italiano di oggi], ed. by Irene Chirico and others (ETP Books, 2021)
‘From Loss to Capture: Temporality in Cavalcanti, Dante, and Petrarch’s Lyrical
Epiphanies’, co-authored with Manuele Gragnolati, in Medieval Temporalities: The Experience
of Time in Medieval Europe, ed. by Almut Suerbaum and Annie Sutherland (D.S. Brewer,
‘Compulsion, plaisir, regret: Volonté et passivité dans trois sonnets de Dante, Pétrarque
et Shakespeare’, in Dante et Shakespeare: Cosmologie, Politique, Poétique, ed. by Isabelle Battesti and Pascale Drouet (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2020), pp. 105-24
‘The Art of Rambling: Errant Thoughts and Entangled Passions in Petrarch’s “Ascent of
Mont Ventoux” (Familiares IV, 1) and RVF 129’, in Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry,
Hypothesis, and Experience in the European Middle Ages, ed. by Philip Knox and others
(Turnhout: Brepols, 2018), pp. 197-221
‘From Paradox to Exclusivity: Dante’s and Petrarch’s Lyrical Eschatologies’, co-authored
with Manuele Gragnolati, in The Unity of Knowledge in the Pre-Modern World: Petrarch and
Boccaccio between the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. by Igor Candido (Berlin: De Gruyter,
2018), pp. 129-50.
‘Between Autobiography and Apocalypse: The Double Subject of Polemic in Petrarch’s
Liber sine nomine and Rerum vulgarium fragmenta’, in Polemic: Language as Violence in Medieval and Early Modern Discourse, ed. by Almut Suerbaum and others (London: Ashgate, 2015), pp. 17-42.
‘Desire as a Dead Letter: A Reading of Petrarch’s RVF 125’, in Desire in Dante and the
Middle Ages, pp. 185-207.
‘Introduction: Transforming Desire’, co-authored with Gragnolati, Kay, and Lombardi,
in Desire in Dante and the Middle Ages, pp. 1-11.
‘“Per-tras-versioni” dantesche: Post-Paradisiacal Constellations in the Poetry of Vittorio
Sereni and Andrea Zanzotto’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations
and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries, ed. by Fabio Camilletti and
others (Berlin; Vienna: Verlag Turia und Kant, 2010), pp. 153-74.
‘Lost for Words: Recuperating Melancholy Subjectivity in Dante’s Eden’, in Dante’s
Plurilingualism: Authority, Knowledge, Subjectivity, ed. by Sara Fortuna and others (Oxford:
Legenda, 2010), pp. 193-210.
‘Performative Desires: Sereni’s Re-staging of Dante and Petrarch’, in Aspects of the
Performative in Medieval Culture, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati and Almut Suerbaum (Berlin;
New York: De Gruyter, 2010), pp. 165-96.
‘Dialogo col paesaggio’, in Luino e gli immediati dintorni: Geografie poetiche di Vittorio Sereni (Varese: Insubria University Press, 2010).