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Dr Tristan Kay

Dr Tristan Kay

Dr Tristan Kay
BA (Leeds), MA (Leeds), DPhil (Oxford)

Senior Lecturer in Italian

Area of research

Medieval Italian culture

Office G111, 21 Woodland Rd
19 Woodland Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1TE
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 7589


My research focuses on medieval Italian literary culture, especially Dante and lyric poetry. My recently published book, Dante’s Lyric Redemption: Eros, Salvation, Vernacular Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2016), re-evaluates Dante’s relationship to his vernacular lyric heritage and his commitment to eros as a redemptive force. I have published a number of articles that examine from different perspectives Dante’s complex and evolving notion of desire, in relation to both medieval and classical literary cultures, and have co-edited the volumes Desire in Dante and the Middle Ages (2012) and Dante in Oxford: The Paget Toynbee Lectures (2011). My other interests include Franco-Italian relations in medieval culture and modern appropriations of Dante. I am currently working on the use of Dante in Primo Levi's Holocaust writings, with a particular focus on questions of language and representation. 


Dante’s Lyric Redemption: Eros, Salvation, Vernacular Tradition (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Edited volumes:

Desire in Dante and the Middle Ages, ed. and with an introduction by M. Gragnolati, T. Kay, E. Lombardi and F. Southerden (Oxford: Legenda, 2012)

Dante in Oxford: The Paget Toynbee Lectures, ed. and with an introduction by T. Kay, M. McLaughlin and M. Zaccarello (Oxford: Legenda, 2011)


‘Dante Studies and the Transnational Turn’, in Transnational Italian Studies, ed. by C. Burdett, L. Polezzi, and M. Santello (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, forthcoming)

Inferno XXXII’, in Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana: Inferno, ed. by R. Wilson and C. Rossignoli (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming)

‘Vernacular Literature and Culture’, in The Cambridge Companion to Dante’s ‘Commedia’, ed. by Z. G. Baranski and S. Gilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 140-57

‘Dante’s Ambivalence towards the Lustful’, in Dante and the Seven Deadly Sins, ed. by J. C. Barnes and D. O’Connell (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017), pp. 271-302

‘17. Seductive Lies, Unpalatable Truths, Alter Egos’, in Cambridge Vertical Readings in Dante’s ‘Comedy’, ed. by G. Corbett and H. Webb, 3 vols (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2016), pp. 127-49 [open access]

‘Dante’s Cavalcantian Relapse: The “Pargoletta” Sequence and the Commedia’, in New Voices in Dante Criticism, ed. by J. Luzzi. Special issue of Dante Studies, 131 (2013 issue; published 2014), 73-97

‘Desire, Subjectivity, and Lyric Poetry in Dante’s Convivio and Commedia’, in Desire in Dante and the Middle Ages, ed. by Gragnolati et al (Oxford: Legenda, 2012), pp. 164-84

‘Transforming Desire’, in Desire in Dante and the Middle Ages, ed. by Gragnolati et al (Oxford: Legenda, 2012), pp. 1-11; with M. Gragnolati, E. Lombardi, and F. Southerden

‘Dido, Aeneas, and the Evolution of Dante’s Poetics’, Dante Studies, 129 (2011), 135-60

‘”Una modesta Divina Commedia”: Dante as anti-model in Cesare Pavese’s La luna e i falò’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, edited by M. Gragnolati, F. Camilletti, and F. Lampart (Berlin and Vienna: Turia und Kant, 2011), pp. 101-22

‘Redefining the “matera amorosa”: Dante’s Vita nova and Guittone’s (anti-)courtly “canzoniere”’, The Italianist, 29 (2009), 369-99 


I grew up in the North West of England and studied Italian and Spanish as an undergraduate at the University of Leeds (BA, 2005), where I remained to complete an MA by Research on Dante and the troubadours (2006). In 2006 I began a doctorate at the University of Oxford, under the supervision of Manuele Gragnolati, writing a thesis on the relationship between eros, spirituality and vernacular language in Dante. Before coming to Bristol in 2012, I held a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Dartmouth College, USA, where I taught courses on medieval and modern Italian culture. I am an Associate Editor of the journal Italian Studies and am also Admissions Tutor for the School of Modern Languages. 


I teach the following undergraduate units:

  • ITAL 10007: Modern Italian Texts
  • ITAL 10030: Medieval and Renaissance Italy
  • ITAL 10031: Reading Medieval and Renaissance Culture
  • ITAL 20024: Dante: Inferno
  • ITAL 30049: Dante: Purgatorio and Paradiso
  • ITAL 30048: Desire in Medieval and Renaissance Culture
  • ITAL 30001: Translation into English
  • MODL30002: Ancients and Moderns: Cultures of Humanism in Renaissance Europe
  • MODL30020: The Italian City: Medieval and Early Modern Cultures

In 2015 I was shortlisted for the Students' Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Faculty of Arts. 

I currently co-supervise three PhD students working on aspects of medieval Italian culture and welcome contact from prospective graduate students interested in working on topics related to my research.

Consultation Hours

Monday 10-12


  • Dante Studies
  • Medieval Studies



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