Laura Ingallinella

Laura Ingallinella
Italian Studies
B.A., M.A., University of Catania (Italy); Ph.D., Scuola Normale Superiore (Italy)

Laura Ingallinella

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Italian Studies & English

Teaches medieval Italian and comparative literature; works on the manuscript transmission of late medieval texts and reading practices.

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Departments of Italian Studies and English & Creative Writing at Wellesley College, I received my B.A. and M.A. (both with honors) at the University of Catania, Italy, where I specialized in Romance Studies and worked on medieval French, Occitan, Italian, and Sicilian literature. Then I moved on to the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, Italy, where I received a Ph.D. (with honors) in Italian Philology from the Department of Philology and Linguistics in 2018. Since 2016, I have lived in the United States, where I joined Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies at the Medieval Academy of America.

My research focuses on the manuscript transmission of late medieval vernacular texts. In particular, I have studied how prose translations of saints’ lives into French and Italian—borne in a period in which literary prose in the vernacular was not the most obvious choice for anyone wishing to build grand narratives—became best-sellers across Europe from 1200 to 1500. In my book project, I argue how these highly popular anonymous collections tell us a lot about late medieval men and women’s reading practices, language and literary preferences; their devotional culture and religious beliefs; and most importantly, how they answered cogent questions of salvation and conversion, cultural encounters, gender, and race, to name a few. I am also preparing the critical edition of a collection authored by a fifteenth-century merchant.  

My interests also lie in historical linguistics, lexicography, and digital humanities. One of my current projects aims at developing a digital model of authorship attribution of texts in medieval Italian.

At Wellesley College, I teach a course on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (ITAS 263) as well as a course on the literature of the global Middle Ages (ENG 214/314). My interdisciplinary training has shaped not only my research, but also my teaching. In my classes, I am at showing my students that literature does not exist in a vacuum, but it is a product whose creation and reception depends on cultural climates, political claims, aesthetic standards, and so much more. Much like today, medieval authors molded genres, languages, and media, they disrupted and invented rules for one main reason—to reach their intended audience.

When I am not teaching, meeting my students, or collating pretty manuscripts, you can find me online on the Italian book review website CriticaLetteraria, playing silly characters on a theater stage, cooking and baking with my husband, or backpacking around the world.