Roberta Morosini appointed as Professor of European languages and transcultural studies

Published: May 30, 2024

Roberta Morosini, who held the visiting UCLA Charles Speroni Endowed Chair in the Department of Italian in Fall 2019, will return to UCLA as Professor of European Languages and Transcultural Studies (ELTS).

Morosini earned her Ph.D. in Italian Literature from McGill University, specializing in Italian medieval literature and culture. Her research includes Mediterranean studies, metaliterary and geo-critical studies, and spatial and cartographic writings from Dante to Renaissance Island books.

She has taught courses in Italy on Dante, Boccaccio, and Naples using maps to enhance her students’ visual literacy, decolonize how they read texts, improve their spatial awareness, and help them claim ownership of their space in the world.

Morosini’s passion for medieval Italian culture and literature stems from her childhood with her artistic older sister, who had a collection of books on painters.

“I remember sitting and being enchanted by [painter] Giotto’s little trees that, from up close, are still very little with no or little sense of perspective,” she said. “I found that poetic and calming, as well as [painter] Piero Della Francesca’s fascination with the Byzantine world, which echoes in my research on the Oriental Mediterranean.”

However, the pivotal moment that shaped her commitment to the field was a college encounter.

“As an undergraduate, I was an exchange student at the University of Reading. I was looking for the classroom where Professor Zygmunt Barański taught his course on Dante and opened a door to happy students, seemingly having a good time,” she said. “The professor looked like a happy cowboy, and I thought, ‘this can’t be the course on Dante I’m looking for,’ but it was. That began my journey as a Dante scholar, sharing the beauty of The Divine Comedy and its civic sense of building a convivial, laic, and global community inside and outside the classroom.”

Morosini aspires to build community within her classroom by treating it as a microcosm of society. Her goal is to make it “a safe space where students can rethink, through literature, how to build a better world, contribute to forming global citizens, and bring literature back to society.”

According to Morosini, one of the main reasons she applied for the position at UCLA was the opportunity to work with CMRS Center for Early Global Studies (CMRS-CEGS). She is intrigued by how the Center operates both on and off campus, in conjunction with museums and libraries.

Last winter, Morosini participated in a roundtable at the Mediterranean Seminar workshop, “Intermediaries, Middle Grounds, Middle Sea”, hosted by CMRS-CEGS. This event inspired her desire to collaborate with the Center on a project focusing on a global pan-Mediterranean Dante spanning the Mediterranean to the Pacific. She is eager to support young researchers to “lead and become a focal point in the country for a new holistic and archipelagic approach to Dante” that considers aspects such as gender, language, disability, religion, heterodoxy, ethnicity, and geographies.

Please join us in congratulating Professor Morosini on her appointment and welcoming her back to UCLA.