Department of History

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Image of Ross Balzaretti

Ross Balzaretti

Head of Department, Faculty of Arts



I was educated at University College London (BA 1981-4; PhD 1985-89). My first academic job was at the University of Sheffield (1988-89) and the following year I was Rome Scholar in Italian Studies at the British School at Rome. I joined History at Nottingham in August 1990.

I have had fruitful collaborations at Nottingham with various colleagues including Karen Adler (2004-2010 as UK co-editors of Gender & History), Gaby Neher (Art History), Mark Pearce (Archaeology) and Charles Watkins (Geography) in long-standing research and teaching in the Italian region of Liguria. In 2013-14 I co-convened the History research seminar with Sascha Auerbach.

I collaborate with medievalist colleagues via the Medieval Research Cluster, the editorial board of Nottingham Medieval Studies (NMS) and within the cross-disciplinary Institute for Medieval Research (IMR). Many of us will be at the Leeds International Medieval Congress in July.

2004: Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Summer 2006: British School at Rome researching their Special Collection of travel books. I am currently a BSR Ambassador.

2010-11: Donald Bullough Visiting Fellow in Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews.

2014: Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

I have given papers in Genoa, Brussels, Vienna, Glasgow, Rome, Isernia, San Marino, Siena, and London, Oxford, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leeds, York, Cambridge, Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, St Andrews and Nottingham.

I have published in many leading journals including Archeologia medievale, Early Medieval Europe, Gender & History (including the most-downloaded article in 2008), History, History Workshop Journal, Mélanges de l'École française de Rome, Nottingham Medieval Studies, Past & Present, Times Literary Supplement

I have received research funding from the British Academy, AHRC, University of St Andrews, Paul Mellon Foundation for Studies in British Art, and the Scouloudi Foundation.

I have spoken regularly since 2006 at meetings of the Nottingham Dante Alighieri Society, a local group of Italian enthusiasts, which has always proved a source of interesting comments and reflections on my work.

Expertise Summary

I have supervised 8 doctoral students to completion and am currently supervising 4 more in diverse aspects of History (see below). I welcome proposals from potential doctoral students, most especially in the history of early medieval Europe (especially gender and sexuality), and the history of Liguria (Italy) since the Roman period. A specific project is the Anglican presence in Victorian Italy, focusing on a combination of archival and fieldwork (surviving buildings on the Italian Riviera and non-Catholic cemeteries in Genoa and Livorno). Two of my current students are funded by the AHRC via the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

Teaching Summary

PLEASE NOTE: I will be Head of History from August 2015 and therefore will teach only a part of my current commitments between 2015 and 2018.

My teaching is research-led. I am also an advocate for student-led teaching, especially in seminars. Currently I am teaching Year 1 Learning History; Year 2, Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe; Year 3 Victorians in Italy; Landscape History of Liguria; MA Power and Authority in the Medieval World; Palaeography.

LIGURIA FIELDTRIP (1994-present)

Since 1994, I have taught the landscape history of Eastern Liguria (with Prof. Charles Watkins in Geography) with an annual field trip to the small town of Varese Ligure. This module is unique in Britain, and has been favourably received in Italy. The module is 'The Landscape History of Liguria' (L83218). See:

Students from Geography and History research collaboratively in small teams and produce a final, individual, 6000 word research project. More than 400 of these now exist and form a unique archive of field research in the area, which is actively used by Italian scholars. The projects are housed in the Museo contadino, in Cassego, Varese Ligure, which is directed by Don Sandro Lagomarsini. A wide range of fields have been investigated by students, including river management, fishing history and policy, local wine tradition, tourism, place name studies, archival work using parish registers, vegetation surveys, terrace management and much more besides.

Video made by Myles Grover of the trip in 2014:

Many colleagues have collaborated with us notably Diego Moreno (University of Genoa), Don Sandro Lagomarsini (Museo contadino di Cassego), Roberta Cevasco (University of Alessandria), Susanne Seymour (Geogaphy, Nottingham), Georgina Endfield (Geography, Nottingham), Mark Riley (Geography, Liverpool). Many local people have given their time to helping us in interviews and in other ways. In particular we are grateful to the former Mayor of Varese, Michela Marcone, for long-standing help and support.

Research Summary


Dark Age Liguria, was published by Bloomsbury on 28 March 2013.

I am currently finishing two further books:

The Lands of Saint Ambrose: Monks and Society in Early Medieval Milan (Brepols). This book has been submitted and is currently being prepared for publication.

North Italian Histories (Manchester UP).


Chestnuts in charters: evidence for specialised production in early medieval Genoa and Milan. this will appear in a festschrift honouring Prof Chris Wickham (Italy and Early Medieval Europe: Essays Presented to Chris Wiickham), co-edited by Ross Balzaretti, Julia Barrow and Patricia Skinner, to appear as a Past & Present Supplement (OUP) in 2017.

'Early Medieval Genoa', in Carrie Benes (ed.), Companion to Medieval Genoa (Brill, Leiden).

'Urban life in Lombard Italy: Genoa and Milan compared' (volume in honour of Dr Tom Brown)


I was editor of Gender & History for six years (2004-2010), as part of a team with Karen Adler (Nottingham), Ruth Karras, Regina Kunzel and Sarah C. Chambers (Minnesota), having been on its editorial collective since 1993.

In the period 2004-2009 Karen Adler and I edited more than 3,500 pages of text for the journal covering a very wide range of subjects. The presence of the journal here has helped us to develop a 'Gender Histories Network' which brings together local gender historians across the Arts and Social Sciences faculties.

We also instituted a Gender & History public lecture at Nottingham: past lecturers have included Ruth Mazo Karras (Minnesota), Atina Grossmann (NYU) and Efi Avdela (Crete).

Karen and I gave a seminar in May 2010 about the future of the field and the journal at the Department of History in Glasgow University, which has now taken over the UK editorship of G&H.


I was a founder editor of Studies in the Early Middle Ages (SEM), published by Brepols.

I am currently co-editor of the Brepols series, Medieval Church Studies, which is now based in the History Department at Nottingham. Proposals for monographs and edited volumes are welcomed.



Faye Taylor (AHRC funded): 'Miracula and Socio-Political Landscapes: Conques and Bobbio in the millennial period'

Theresa Tyers: 'The Re-birth of Fertility: the Medieval Trotula and her travelling companions, 1250-1500'

Robert Hearn: 'Comparative species history of wolves and wild boar in north western Italy since the Middle Ages' (co-supervised with Charles Watkins, Geography). Robert spent 2010-11 at the University of Genoa and worked there with LASA (Laboratory of Archaeology and Environmental History): He had a post-doctoral position in the department between 2013 and 2015, and is now researching at Nottingham with a bursary from the Centre for Hidden Histories on a project about Italians in Britain in World War One.

Gender and HistoryRachel Middlemass (AHRC funded): Bodies of Men: Manhood and Masculinity c. 1100-c.1250'

Teresa Phipps: 'Women, Power and Identity in Nottingham, Chester and Winchester, c. 1350-1450'

Pietro Piana (AHRC funded): 'Topographical art and landscape history in central-eastern Liguria (c. 1770-1840)' (Lead-School Geography, co-supervised with Charles Watkins and Gary Priestnall)

Lucila Mallart: 'Josep Puig i Cadafalch and the construction of modern Catalan identity, 1907-1925' (co-supervised with Maiken Umbach)

Rebecca Maryan, 'Humoral Theory in Religious Writing in England and Northern Europe, c. 1300-1450 (co-supervised with Rob Lutton)

In progress

Laura Grazia di Stefano, 'Pilgrimage and Travel between Italy and England in the late Middle Ages' (co-supervised with Rob Lutton)

Michele Baitieri, 'Politics and pastoral care: the bishops of north-west Italy in the post-Carolingian period' (co-supervised with Claire Taylor)

Chiara Ravera, 'Women in business in Genoese Chios (1346-1566)' (co-supervised with Richard Goddard).

Timothy McManus, 'The construction of individual religious criminality in southern France: heresy, the Albigensian Crusade (1209-29), and beyond' (co-supervised with Claire Taylor)


Dr Raffaella Bruzzone, Marie Curie Fellow, arrived at Nottingham in May 2014. She is working across Geography and History, on the project 'The circulation of naturalistic knowledge in Modern Europe (1500-1850): a micro analytical perspective (CIRCKNOW)'. I am involved in mentoring this project alongside Prof Charles Watkins in Geography.

Dr Roberta Cimino, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow from February 2015. Her project is called 'The royal fisc in Carolingian and Post-Carolingian Italy'. Roberta is based in History and I am the principal mentor for this project.

Gender & History, since 1993; Editor 2004-2010:

Nottingham Medieval Studies:

History Compass:

Studies in the Early Middle Ages, co-editor of book series published by Brepols: (until 2014)

Medieval Church Studies (Brepols), lead editor of this books series now based at Nottingham (from 2014)

Past Research

Much of my past research has involved collaboration with scholars in other disciplines, and has resulted so far in three edited volumes:

(1) Presentations of the Self in Early Modern England, ed. with Amy Erickson (1995, Gender & History, Special issue)

(2) Narrative and History in the Early Medieval West , ed. with E. Tyler (2006).

Reviews: The Medieval Review TMR 07.10.08 (Elizabeth van Houts); Lesley Abrams, English Historical Review, cxxiii, 503 (2008), 997-999; Genevieve Young, Parergon 26.1 (2009), 280-283; Miranda Wilcox, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, July 2009, 399-401.

(3) Ligurian Landscapes, ed. with M. Pearce and C. Watkins (2004).

Launched by the Rector of the University of Genoa 13 December 2004 and reviewed by Angelo Torre, 'Un "tournant spatial" en historie? Paysages, regards, ressources', Annales HSS 5 (2008), 1127-1144.

Ligurian Landscapes

Past conferences

2007-2015: invited conference papers/lectures at ACCORDIA, London; University of Edinburgh; University of Bologna; University of Leeds, IMC; University of Padua; Institute of Historical Research, London; University of Genoa; University of Nottingham (Institute for the Study of Slavery; Gender & History); Free University, Brussels; London Medieval Society; St Andrews; York; University College London.

Future Research

My future research will be largely focused on Liguria.

(1) Genoese charter collections

(3) Complete annotated English translation of the history of Varese Ligure written by Antonio Cesena in 1558.

I am Co-I on the three year (2016-2019) project British amateur topographical art and landscape in NW Italy 1835-1915, recently funded by the Leverhulme Trust. the PI is Prof Charles Watkins in Geography and the post-doctoral researcher Dr Pietro Piana.

Conferences and lectures 2015

Co-organizer (with Trish Skinner and Julia Barrow) of 'Italy and Medieval Europe. A Fest in Honour of Chris Wickham', British School at Rome, 20-23 January 2015. A volume of essays is in preparation to be edited by Balzaretti, Barrow and Skinner and published by Oxford University Press.

'Urban Life in Lombard Italy: Genoa and Milan Compared', conference in honour of Dr Tom Brown, University of Edinburgh, 29-30 May 2015. This will appear in the volume honouring Tom.

'Botanical Relics of a Lost Landscape: herborizing 'upon the Cliffs about the Pharos', Genoa, March 1664. International Conference of Historical Geographers 2015, 6 July 2015. A revised version is under consideration by Landscape Research.

'Fathers, Sons and Property Transfer in Tenth-Century North Western Italy', Leeds International Congress, July 2015


'Early medieval charters as evidence for land management practices', University of Leeds, 16 March 2016

Exhibition: Grand Tourists and Others

Curator of 'Grand Tourists and Others: Travelling Abroad before the Twentieth Century', 29 April-6 August 2016, Weston Gallery, University of Nottingham. This exhibition draws on the extensive archival collections of Manuscripts and Special Collections at Nottingham to investigate travel in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is a focus on the travel of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire residents. The exhibition is accompanied by a public events programme. It is part of Season 2 of The Grand Tour. 140 people attended the opening (28 April) when the show was formally opened by the explorer and author Levison Wood, who graduated in History in 2004 and took my final year Special Subject 'The English in Italy'. 104 attended the first lunchtime talk (5 May). The film showing was attended by 147 people. The second lunchtime talk on the Fanshawe sisters (14 June) was sold out (200 people) as was the final talk (by Dr Sarah Goldsmith on 14 July). an online legacy exhibition will be hosted on the Manuscripts and Special Collections website.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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