Department of History

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Image of Ross Balzaretti

Ross Balzaretti

Professor, Faculty of Arts



Office B10, upstairs Lenton Grove.

I was Head of History (2015-2018). I joined History at Nottingham in August 1990.

Academic background

University College London (BA 1981-4; PhD 1985-89)

Lecturer at University of Sheffield (1988-89).

Rome Scholar in Italian Studies (1989-90) at the British School at Rome.

External appointments

2015-present: Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (elected).

2014-present: Co-editor of the Medieval Church Studies book series for Brepols.

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

2004-present: Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (elected)

2004-2010: Co-editor (with Karen Adler Nottingham) of Gender & History)

Publications summary

5 books and 60 articles and chapters, in leading journals including Archeologia medievale, Early Medieval Europe, Gender & History, History, History Workshop Journal, Landscape History, Landscape Studies, Mélanges de l'École française de Rome, Nottingham Medieval Studies, Past & Present, Rural History, Times Literary Supplement, and I have given papers in Genoa, Milan, Brussels, Vienna, Glasgow, Rome, Isernia, San Marino, Siena, London, Oxford, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leeds, York, Cambridge, Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, St Andrews and Nottingham.

Funding and research projects

British Academy, AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, University of St Andrews, Paul Mellon Foundation for Studies in British Art, and the Scouloudi Foundation.

Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant 'British amateur topographical art and landscape in NW Italy 1835-1914', co-investigator (2016-2019).

Regular speaker 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. They helped a good deal with my 2016 exhibition, Grand Tourists and Others.

Expertise Summary

I have supervised 14 doctoral students to completion and am currently supervising 7 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). Several of my current students are funded by the AHRC via the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

Teaching Summary

I am Senior Fellow of the HEA (Advance HE). 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 and… read more

Research Summary


The Lands of Saint Ambrose: Monks and Society in Early Medieval Milan (Brepols, Turnhout, 2019). This book was published on 19 June 2019. It was launched in London on 31 May 2019. It was presented and discussed at the University of Padova (by Cristina La Rocca, Gianmarco De Angelis and Giuseppe Albertoni) on 25 November 2019 and the proceedings will be published in Reti Medievali, online.

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


'Chestnuts in charters: evidence for specialised production in early medieval Genoa and Milan', in Italy and Early Medieval Europe: Essays Presented to Chris Wiickham, co-edited by Ross Balzaretti, Julia Barrow and Patricia Skinner (OUP 2018).

'Early Medieval Genoa', in Carrie Benes (ed.), Companion to Medieval Genoa (Brill, Leiden, 2018).


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. I continue to act as coordinator for medieval submissions. Gender and History


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.

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


Completed (14): Dr Faye Taylor, Dr Theresa Tyers, Dr Robert Hearn, Dr Rachel Middlemass, Dr Teresa Phipps, Dr Pietro Piana, Dr Lucila Mallart, Dr Rebecca Maryan, Dr Laura Grazia di Stefano, Dr Chiara Ravera, Dr Michele Baitieri, Dr Timothy McManus, Dr Marco Panato, Dr David Robinson

In progress (7): Alessandro Carabia, Lindsey Annable, Robert Frost, Matt Carter, Leonardo Porcelloni, Elisa Manservisi, Cheryl-Anne Afonso

I am able to supervise students in any area of early medieval history, in landscape and environmental history (especially of Italy), and travel history.


Dr Raffaella Bruzzone, Marie Curie Fellow, arrived at Nottingham in May 2014. She worked across Geography and History, on the project 'The circulation of naturalistic knowledge in Modern Europe (1500-1850): a micro analytical perspective (CIRCKNOW)'. I was involved in mentoring this project alongside Prof Charles Watkins in Geography, which ended in 2017. Project website

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, which ended in January 2018.

Selected Publications

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), co-editor of this books series now based at Nottingham (from 2014)

I am Senior Fellow of the HEA (Advance HE). 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 and Making the Middle Ages; Year 2, Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe; MA Power and Authority in the Medieval World; Palaeography; Dissertation. My Year modules are Victorians in Italy: Travelling Abroad in the Nineteenth Century and The Landscape History of Liguria (Co-taught with Geography).


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).

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.


I am a founder member of the EMC, a group which links colleagues in the History departments of of the universities of De Montfort, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Loughborough, Northampton and Nottingham. It was set up to share best pedagogical practice across the East Midlands. Details of workshops, training events and online teaching resources can be found on the website. My colleagues Dr Joe Merton and Dr Nick Thomas are also active participants in the management of the Centre, which is currently run by the University of Nottingham.


I, alongside colleagues at Nottingham, have also contributed to the website Historians on Teaching, set up by Prof Emeritus Alan Booth, which provides ideas about teaching (and academic research papers) for historians at all career stages.

Past Research

British amateur topographical art and landscape in NW Italy 1835-1915

I was Co-I on this three-year (2016-2019) Leverhulme Project Research Grant. PI, Prof Charles Watkins in Geography and post-doctoral researcher Dr Pietro Piana. We are currently writing a co-authored monograph (to be published by Boydell & Brewer), have published articles in Landscape History and Rural History and curated an exhibition 'Portofino Landscape' (with Alberto Girani and Francesco Faccini, Portofino national park and University of Genoa) which has been seen in two venues in Portofino, two in Genoa and in Nottingham (Humanities Atrium, November-December 2018). A further exhibition, Paesaggi di carta', opened on 26 January 2019, in Isola del Cantone. Project website. Twitter: [at]TopogArt. A monograph will be published by Boydell and Brewer.

Fate, Luck and Fortune

I participated in two workshops organized by the AHRC project Fate, Luck and Fortune: Narratives of Environmental Risk, led by Esther Eidinow (Bristol) and Georgina Endfield (Liverpool). My paper, which dealt with the risks faced by nineteenth-century tourists when they crossed the River Magra in Eastern Liguria, was published in the Journal of Risk Research in 2019 as part of a themed issue.

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 drew on the extensive archival collections of Manuscripts and Special Collections at Nottingham to investigate travel in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There was a focus on the travel of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire residents. The exhibition was accompanied by a public events programme and was 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'. Levison is an Alumnus Laureate of this university. 104 people attended the first lunchtime talk (5 May). The film showing was attended by 147 people when Dr Sarah Lutton (BFI) hosted a screening and lively post-show discussion of Rossellini's Viaggio in Italia.. 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 can be viewed on the Manuscripts and Special Collections website.

Past conferences

2007-2019: invited conference papers/lectures at ACCORDIA, London; University of Edinburgh; University of Bologna; University of Leeds, IMC; University of Padua (twice); Institute of Historical Research, London; University of Genoa; University of Nottingham (Institute for the Study of Slavery; Gender & History; Venetian seminar); Free University, Brussels; London Medieval Society; St Andrews; York; University College London; Universita degli Studi di Milano.

Future Research

North Italian Histories

My current book project is an English translation with substantial commentary and annotation of Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards (written c. 785 AD) and associated texts, to be published in the Manchester Medieval Sources series.

I am also contributing to:

Conflict and Violence in Medieval Italy 568-1154, ed. by Christopher Heath and Robert Houghton, to be published by Amsterdam UP.

Un ponte tra il Mediterraneo e il Nord-Europa La Lombardia nel primo millennio, ed. Laura Mecella, to be published by the State University of Milan.

Italy in the Fifth Century: Social, Political and Economic Transformations in a Society under Stress, 395-493 CE, ed. Sarah Bühler (Tübingen), Stefan Rebenich (Bern), Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner (Tübingen), and John Weisweiler (Cambridge).

Travels in Isolation, ed. David Robinson and Gary Fisher, to be published by Anthem Press.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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