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Copy of Italian Literature & Language: Oxford collections

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Above: Gabriele d'Annunzio La crociata degli innocenti (Milano: L'Eroica, 1920) [Taylor Institution Library collection]

Oxford libraries


Oxford's collections in Italian literature and language (including linguistics), from the medieval period to the present day, are rich and diverse. Materials are collected across the University as broadly as possible, including in related subject areas (e.g., art, history, theology, etc.).

Major collecting areas for Italian literature & language

  • Italian Language and Linguistics
    In particular: Grammar, phonetics, morphology, syntax, lexicography, philology, dialects; History of the Italian language; linguistic atlases
  • Medieval
    In particular: Boccaccio, Dante, Petrarch and their contemporaries
    Special Subjects
    - Tradition and innovation in medieval lyric poetry
    - Problems in Dante interpretation
  • 15th-16th century
    In particular: Alberti; Ariosto and lyric poetry; Bembo and Humanism; La commedia dell' arte; Giordano Bruno; Tasso
    Special Subjects
    - Classical and vernacular cultures in the Italian Renaissance
  • - Biography and autobiography in the Italian Renaissance
    - Ariosto's Orlando Furioso and Renaissance epic
  • 17th century
    In particular: Baroque poetics
  • 18th century
    In particular: Theatre, drama: comedy (e.g. Goldoni), tragedy (e.g. Alfieri); Giuseppe Parini; Giambattista Vico
  • 19th century
    In particular: Romanticism/post Romanticism; the novel; naturalism and verismo; Carducci; D'Annunzio; Foscolo; Leopardi; Manzoni
  • 20th century
    In particular: History of publishing; Futurism; the literary environment of the Fascist period; poetry; the post-World War II novel; the Italian crime novel (e.g. Gadda, Sciascia); women writers (e.g. Deledda, Rosselli); theatre (e.g. De Filippo; Pirandello); literature and film (e.g. Pasolini)
  • 21st century
    In particular: Poetry; the novel; migration literature (non-Italian authors working and writing in Italy); women writers
    Modern Special Subjects
    - The Italian novel in the 19th and 20th century
    - Carlo Emilio Gadda
    - Literature and politics in 20th century Italy
    - Literature in Trieste and Trieste in Literature
    - Modernism, anti-modernism and postmodernism in 20th century Italian lyric poetry
    - The canzoniere inin contemporary Italian fiction (Calvino, Eco, Malerba, Tabucchi)
    - Literature and cinema in Italian culture

Principal collections in Oxford

The Taylor Institution Library (located on St. Giles') is the principal repository for materials on Italian literature and language.

This building houses three collections: the Research Collection, the Teaching Collection and the Linguistics Colllection.

The Research Collection
Italian language and literature are well covered from the medieval period to the present day. Monographs and periodicals are collected. Most titles (in both collections) may be borrowed. 

The Linguistics Collection is housed within the Research Collection (see guide to Linguistics).

Special Collections include:

  • The Futurist collection consists of a small group of Futurist-era publications some of which are specifically by Futurist authors while others derive from the political/artistic environment of the period. Records for all items are in the online catalogue.
  • The Guarini collection comprises multiple editions of the 16th-century pastoral tragi-comedy by Battista Guarini, Il pastor fido. First published in 1590, over 450 editions, reprints, translations and adaptations are known to exist. Approaching 200 of these are now in the library's collections. The core of these (33 versions) originated with the library's Finch collection, with rest in the Guarini collection. Editions include translations into Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Postuguese and Spanish, and a parody, Il pastor infido (Leipzig, 1696). Records for all Guarini editions are in the online catalogue. See also D. Thomas An annotated checklist of editions of the works of Battista Guarini.
  • The small but important Manuscript collection, comprising letters and papers of literary figures and others, includes items by Marinetti, Metastasio, and Ungaretti. See The letters and papers of European writers and others in the library of the Taylor Institution: summary catalogue.
  • The Moore collection, comprising circa 900 volumes by and about Dante. The collection was formed by Edward Moore (1835-1916), principal of St. Edmund Hall, Taylorian Lecturer in Dante (1895-1908), and a founder of the Dante Society (1876). Publications range in date from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The collection was placed on loan to the library by The Queen's College in 1939. Records for items originating with this collection are in the online catalogue.

The Teaching Collection (aka Modern Languages Faculty Library)
Provides materials in support of undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses in Italian language and literature from the medieval period to the present day. Items for acquisition are selected in line with reading lists, syllabi, and recommended authors, and in some cases multiple copies of key texts are made available. The Library subscribes to various Italian magazines and newspapers, and there is a growing collection of Italian film (see guide to Film Studies).

For a history of the Taylor Institution and its collections see J. Hughes, “History of the Library and its collections”, Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland, Österreich und Europa, ed. B. Fabian (Hildesheim: Olms, 2003).

Associated libraries

The Bodleian Library also has an extensive collection of materials relating to Italian language and literature. Books published in the UK arrive there through the legal deposit agreement and are available for reference use, as are theses completed in Oxford in the field of Italian.

Readers studying Italian literature will also find relevant background material in the English Faculty Library.

The art and architecture collections at the Sackler Library are useful for research on (for example) Leon Battista Alberti and various art and literary movements such as Futurism.

  • The Sackler's Wind Room contains some early editions of (mostly) Renaissance humanist texts.

The Oxford University Language Centre Library offers multi-media resources for language learning.