Gragnolati, Manuele 1968-

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Gragnolati, Manuele 1968-


Born January 11, 1968, in Pavia, Italy. Education: University of Pavia, Laurea in lettere Classiche, 1992; University of Paris, D.E.A., 1994; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1999.


Office—Somerville College, Woodstock Rd., Oxford OX2 6HD, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, assistant professor, 1999-2003; Somerville College, Oxford University, England, tutor at Lady Margaret Hall and St. Catherine's College, university lecturer, 2003—. Advisor to the director and associate member, Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry.


American Association of Italian Studies, Medieval Academy of America, Dante Society of America.


Fellowships from Collegio Ghislieri, University of Pavia, 1987-92, European Community, 1991, Columbia University, 1994-99; Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, Columbia University, 1999.


Experiencing the Afterlife: Soul and Body in Dante and Medieval Culture, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Last Things: Death and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages, edited by Caroline Walker Bynum and Paul Freedman, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1999; Dante for the New Millennium, edited by Teodolinda Barolini and Wayne Storey, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2003; History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person, edited by Rachel Fulton and Bruce Holsinger, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2007; and Dante and the Human Body, edited by John Barnes and Jennifer Petrie, Four Courts Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2007.

Editor, with C. Bino, of special volume of journal Comunicazioni sociali, 2003; editor, with C. Bino and C. Bernardi, of Il corpo glorioso, 2006; contributor to scholarly journals.


Manuele Gragnolati, a faculty member at Oxford University, specializes in the study of Dante and medieval literature and culture. His book, Experiencing the Afterlife: Soul and Body in Dante and Medieval Culture, explores the role of the body in Dante's idea of human identity. Focusing on Dante's Divine Comedy but drawing also on other works by thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Italians, Gragnolati points out that writers of this era had moved away from the earlier emphasis on the Last Judgment and the resurrection of souls toward a new focus on physical death and the status of the soul as it awaited final resurrection. Gragnolati shows that Dante envisioned the soul as an aerial body, capable of suffering in hell or purgatory, but also of achieving a state of perfection in paradise.

In a review for Church History, F. Regina Psaki observed that Gragnolati's "elegant prose … crackles with energy," and that his book provides an "enormous service" to readers unfamiliar with Dante's works by presenting translations of obscure materials and by explicating the process by which "debates taking place in Latin—in theological and ecclesiastical contexts—play out in a popularizing corpus." Praising Gragnolati's synthesis of these materials in his "nuanced, persuasive reading" of the Comedy, Psaki added that the literary historian "is able to synthesize a mass of erudition—primary, secondary, and theoretical—into usable categories." Though Psaki questioned Gragnolati's omission of some pertinent scholarship on Dante and his treatment of the Comedy as a document of vernacular theology rather than as a work of poetry, Psaki concluded that Experiencing the Afterlife "makes a valuable contribution to Dante studies, medieval studies, Italian cultural and literary history, and the history of theology."

The book also received praise from Modern Language Review critic David Ruzicka, who hailed Gragnolati for "triumphantly challeng[ing]" established views on Dante. Ruzicka particularly admired Gragnolati's discussion of Dante and Aquinas, and Dante's "highly convincing suggestion that the experience of the protagonist in the Paradiso should be seen as that of the progressive ‘transformation of his body into a resurrected body.’" Medium Aevum contributor Ita MacCarthy praised the originality of Gragnolati's argument, stating that Gragnolati's "lively and engaging book sheds new light on the debate about the role of the body in the Divine Comedy's conception of personal identity," and added that the book "breaks ground … for the way it resists the temptation to divorce Dante from popular traditions." MacCarthy concluded that Experiencing the Afterlife is an "illuminating analysis" of Dante's central themes and an "important contribution to Dante scholarship."

Gragnolati has also written numerous articles, including "From Decay to Splendor: Body and Pain in Bonvesin da la Riva's ‘Book of the Three Scriptures,’" published in Last Things: Death and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages. With C. Bino, he edited a special volume of the journal Comunicazioni sociali on medieval understandings of physical pain. Also, with Bino and C. Bernardi, Gragnolati edited the volume Il corpo glorioso, about Western culture's concept of the resurrection of the body. Gragnolati has also written extensively on Italian poetry, and has published articles on such writers as Bonvesin da la Riva, Matteo Maria Boiardo, Giovanni Pascoli, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Giacomo Leopardi, and Cesare Pavese.

Gragnolati has received fellowships from the Collegio Ghislieri at the University of Pavia and from Columbia University, where he earned his Ph.D. He is also a recipient of the European Community Erasmus Fellowship. He taught at Dartmouth College before joining the Oxford University faculty in 2003 as a university lecturer, Somerville College fellow, and tutor at Lady Margaret Hall and St. Catherine's College. He also serves as advisor to the director and as associate member of the Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry.



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February 1, 2006, D. Pesta, review of Experiencing the Afterlife: Soul and Body in Dante and Medieval Culture, p. 1020.

Church History, December 1, 2007, F. Regina Psaki, review of Experiencing the Afterlife, p. 836.

Medium Aevum, March 22, 2007, Ita MacCarthy, review of Experiencing the Afterlife, p. 157.

Modern Language Notes, January 1, 2007, review of Experiencing the Afterlife, p. 211.

Modern Language Review, January 1, 2007, David Ruzicka, review of Experiencing the Afterlife, p. 249.

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, January 1, 2007, Warren Ginsberg, review of Experiencing the Afterlife, p. 191.


Oxford University Italian Department Web site, (July 15, 2008), Gragnolati faculty profile.

Somerville College at Oxford University Web site, (July 15, 2008), Gragnolati faculty profile.

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Gragnolati, Manuele 1968-

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