Department of History

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Ross Balzaretti

Associate Professor, 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 Sasha 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.

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 9 doctoral students in diverse aspects of History (see below). I welcome proposals from potential doctoral students, most especially in the history of early medieval Europe and the history of Liguria (Italy) since the Roman period.

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. Currently I am teaching Year 1 Learning History and Medieval World; Year 2, Blood and Treasure; Year 3 Landscape History of Liguria; MA Research Methods, Power and Authority in the Medieval World; Palaeography.

Liguria fieldtrip

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: www.heacademy.ac.uk/hca/resources/detail/students_as_front_line_researchers

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.

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 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)

North Italian Histories (Manchester UP).

Articles in preparation

Storytelling in early medieval charters

Early medieval charters and landscape: Genoa and Milan compared

Hugh of Arles (c. 885-948) and his family: narratives of failure in the regnum Italiae (Early Medieval Europe)

Travelling in Turner's Italy (for Tate Britain website)

International journal editorship

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.

Doctoral research students


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): www.dismec.unige.it/lasa/progetti.php He now has a post-doctoral position in the department.

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

In progress:

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

Pietro Piana (AHRC funded): 'History of Landscape Views in the Portofino Peninsula and Upper Val di Vara in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries' (lead school Geography, co-supervised with Charles Watkins and Gary Priestnall).

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

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

Postdoctoral colleagues

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.

We are looking forward to the arrival of Dr Roberta Cimino as Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in February 2015. Her project is called 'The royal fisc in Carolingian and Post-Carolingian Italy'. I will be principal mentor for this project.

Gender & History, since 1993; Editor 2004-2010: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1468-0424

Nottingham Medieval Studies: http://brepols.metapress.com/content/121656/

History Compass: http://history-compass.com/

Studies in the Early Middle Ages, co-editor of book series published by Brepols: http://www.brepols.net/Pages/BrowseBySeries.aspx?TreeSeries=SEM

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

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) quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx; 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. www.armand-colin.com/revues_article_info.php

Ligurian Landscapes

Past conferences

2007-2013: invited conference papers/lectures at ACCORDIA, London; University of Bologna; 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; niversity College London.

Future Research

My future research will be largely focused on Liguria.

(1) The travel history of Liguria, including an exhibition 'Nottinghamshire Abroad: From Grand Tour to Tourism' (Weston Gallery, University of Nottingham, Summer 2016).

(2) Genoese charter collections

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

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.

'Urban Life in Lombard Italy: Genoa and Milan Compared', conference in honour of Dr Tom Brown, University of Edinburgh, 29-30 May 2015

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.

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


Curator of 'Nottinghamshire Abroad: From Grand Tour to Tourism', May-September 2016, Wallner Gallery, University of Nottingham. This exhibition draws on the extensive archival collections of Manuscripts and Special Collections at Nottingham to trace the travels of Nottinghamshire people in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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