Meet the team – Raffaella

Raffaella Colombo is the newest member of our research team and the second PhD student funded by the project. Here is what she has to say about what her first few weeks have been like:

I’m the newest entry in the team. I joined Victoria, Bianca and Sharon at the beginning of January to work on the project as a PhD student. Before coming to London, I studied in Pavia (Italy) and I was a fellow student of Collegio Ghislieri ( ). I got my BA in Classics and then a MA in Modern Philology, thus combining two of my greatest academic interests, Latin literature and its reception in Italian modern and contemporary culture. So, as well as the other team members, I have an interdisciplinary background and I’m passionate about many different aspects of Classical Latin and Neo-Latin culture, including didactic poetry, animal studies and meta-poetical discourse. I studied Neo-Latin poetry for the first time while working on my MA dissertation on Giovanni Pascoli’s Latin poetry (late 19th century) and I’m now discovering a completely new world, working with the English manuscripts from the early-modern period.

My first weeks in London were full of things to do to settle down in a big city and start a new life. However, I got used to the rhythms quite quickly and I started working enthusiastically at the British Library, helping to complete the survey stage of the project. At the moment, my main job is to tidy up the descriptions of the manuscripts that Victoria, Bianca and Sharon examined in the first few months, but I’m also looking at some new manuscripts and working on their descriptions from the beginning. What I really enjoy is that I discover something new every day! And it’s incredible how many things I’ve learnt in only a month in terms of handling manuscripts, palaeography, literary culture and metrics. One of the biggest challenges I’ve been facing since my very first day is, in fact, the identification of the metrical schemes in which the poems we found are written. We are surprised, as a team, at the metrical variety we’ve been finding: not only “common” hexameters, elegiacs and hendecasyllables, but also pythiambics and archilocheans, alcaics and iambics and apparently original Neo-Latin creations for which we have had to invent some terms of our own!

In the following months I’ll be involved in some of the team’s outreach projects and I’ll travel outside London to visit local archives and libraries where we expect to find more Neo-Latin verse. I will also spend some time in determining more precisely the topic of my PhD dissertation, as at the moment I have only a few general ideas.

Author: Victoria

I am an early modernist who works primarily upon the relationship between Latin and vernacular (especially but not only English) poetry between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. I am Senior Lecturer in Latin Language and Literature at King's College London.

4 thoughts on “Meet the team – Raffaella”

  1. What’s the text in the header picture, please? Particularly the penultimate word. Has the author been reading his Ovid-Tristia-‘parve liber etc’? This isn’t really my specialist field (see below) but I’m becoming more and more interested in Neo-Latin. I’m very interested in this project and would like to know more. One of my own, part-time, projects is transcribing and commenting on a collection that I found in our local archives (Sheffield): I’m struggling to identify sources.
    Please print more texts, when it’s possible.
    Good luck!
    Peter Hulse

    1. Many thanks for commenting Peter. The header image is BL Add 73542 ff1v-2r, a large collection of epigrams (c. 700) by John Russell of Magdalene Cambridge in about 1625. He no doubt has read Ovid among others, but the main model here – including for that opening poem – is John Owen. Do you mean the penultimate word on the left hand page or the right?

        1. No not digitised I’m afraid. It says ‘mea viscera mollis’ at the end of that line. Owen is completely ubiquitous for a while around that time and remains important and widely read for a long time. He’s in school anthologies and so on pretty quickly. Russell’s collection is very like Owen’s except that he obviously got bored of only writing elegiac couplets (as Owen does) and uses other metres too. But Owen’s metrical single-mindedness is actually (for its time) one of the most unusual things about him.

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