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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages


Dr Heather Webb

Dr Heather Webb
Reader in Medieval Italian Literature and Culture
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
(+44) (0)1223 335 852

Selwyn College
Grange Road


Dr Webb (PhD Stanford 2004) specialises in medieval Italian literature and culture with a particular interest in Dante studies, Catherine of Siena and other Dominican penitent women, Boccaccio, and early Italian lyric poetry. Her work centres on medieval concepts of embodiment, intersubjectivity, and personhood. She is the author of The Medieval Heart (Yale, 2010) and Dante’s Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman (OUP, 2016).  With Dr George Corbett, she is editor of Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy, 3 vols (Open Book Publishers 2015-2017).

Research interests: 
  • Dante Studies
  • Catherine of Siena
  • Dominican Penitent Women
  • Boccaccio
  • Early Italian Lyric Poetry
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Illustrations of the Comedy
  • Medieval prayer manuals and preachers’ manuals
  • Hagiography
  • History of gesture and posture
  • Literature and performance
Recent research projects: 

Visualising Posture in Dante’s Comedy: History, Theory, Practice

Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy

Published works: 

Dante's Persons: An Ethics of the Transhuman (Oxford University Press, 2016)

The Medieval Heart (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).  241 pp.  ISBN: 978-0-300-15393-4.

ed. with George Corbett, Vertical Readings in Dante’s Comedy (in three volumes) (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015-2017).

ed. with Pierpaolo Antonello, Mimesis, Desire, and the Novel: René Girard and Literary Criticism (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2015).

‘Postures of Penitence in Dante’s Purgatorio’, Dante Studies CXXXI (2013), 219-236.

‘Three Paths in One Journey’, with George Corbett, L’Alighieri, 41 (2013), 63-81.

‘Power Differentials, Unreliable Models, and Homoerotic Desire in the Commedia’, Italian Studies, 68.1 (2013), 17-35.

‘Inferno from a Purgatorial (and Paradisiacal) Perspective’, Dante’s Inferno, ed. by Patrick Hunt (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2012), 49-62.

‘Dante’s Definition of Life’, Dante Studies, 129 (2011), 47-62.

‘Deceit, Desire, and Conversion in Girard and Dante’, Religion and Literature. Special issue: ‘Deceit, Desire and the Novel 50 Years Later: The Religious Dimension’, ed. by Ann W. Astell and Justin Jackson, 43.3 (2011), 200-207.

‘“Lacrime cordiali”: Catherine of Siena and the Value of Tears’, A Companion to Catherine of Siena, ed. by George Ferzoco, Beverly Kienzle, Carolyn Muessig (Leiden:  Brill, 2011) 99-112.

‘Catherine of Siena’s Heart’, Speculum, 80.3 (2005), 802-817. Reprinted in Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism, vol. 116, (Farmington Hills: Cengage Gale, 2010).

‘Cardiosensory Impulses in Late Medieval Spirituality’, Rethinking the Medieval Senses:  Heritage/Fascinations/Frames, ed. by Stephen Nichols, Andreas Kablitz and Alison Calhoun (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 265-285. 

‘“Per core un marmo”: Dante’s Stone Cold Rhymes’, Dante Studies, 121 (2003), 149-167.