I graduated in modern languages at Cambridge and moved from a post at the University of Kent to the chair of Italian at Birmingham in 1994, where I was head of department from 1994 to 2002 and again from 2005 to 2008. My teaching and research interests in Italian Studies have ranged from the reception of Dante since the Middle Ages to contemporary literature and the work of Umberto Eco, with a strong research focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
My research interests include literary theory, problems of reception and trans-cultural adaptation, textual interpretation, and the relations between oral and written culture in modern (post-18th century) culture.
The main project I am engaged on at the current time is the production of the first complete critical English edition of Giacomo Leopardi's notebooks, the Zibaldone, with an introduction, notes, commentary and indexes. I am jointly responsible for this with my colleague Franco D'Intino, and publication in the US and UK (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Penguin) is expected in 2013. The work is being carried out under the auspices of the Leopardi Centre at Birmingham which I co-founded in 1998.
Convenor of the international conference ‘Thinking in Fragments: Romanticism and Beyond’, held at Birmingham with the support of the AHRC, 16-17 December 2010.