Mario Sassi

Mario Sassi

Ph.D., Italian Studies


Mario Sassi graduated in Italian language and literature at the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” with a thesis on Italian Philology (“Authorial Philology: Problems and Examples of Critical Editions”). His current research focuses on Late Medieval and Early Modern thought by studying popular religious narratives. His work analyzes how anonymous vernacular miscellanies of exempla transmit entertaining narratives and a system of values, and mirror fears, hopes, and habits of ordinary people between the 14th and 15th centuries. Additionally, he studies the contemporary reception (in movies, videogames, and TV shows) of Middle Ages literature and the formation of a literary Canon.

He obtained a Ph.D. in Italian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on medieval Italian literature, sermons, and exempla in Italian, French, and Latin. In addition, he collaborated with the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies as an administrator of the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts and Digital Scriptorium 2.0. He serves as Managing Editor of Bibliotheca Dantesca since 2018 and has been a founding member of the Graduate Group of the Dante Society of America.

Dissertation: The Supernatural in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century Exempla (Advisor: David Wallace)


2021 Penfield Research Award, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (PA)

2021 Salvatori Research Award, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (PA)

2021 Frederic C. Lane Dissertation Grant, Medieval Academy of America

2019-2020 Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching by Graduate Students, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

2019-2020 Department of Romance Languages, Certificate of Excellence in Teaching, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

2019: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship – Summer Institute in Italian Paleography, Newberry Library, Chicago.


Conference Participation

“Laughing with the Preacher in the Early Italian Renaissance,” in the panel Laughter: Sacred and Profane I, Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting, San Juan (PR), March 11, 2023

“Help, Plea, Punishment: The Virgin Mary in The Italian Legends of the Late Middle Ages,” in the panel
Medieval Sermon Studies II: Sermons and Saints, 57th International Congress on Medieval Studies,
Kalamazoo, MI (via Zoom), May 12, 2022

“UPenn MS Codex 331 and the Vernacular Exemplum,” on the panel Reading Italian Vernacular Literature, Global Medieval and Renaissance Studies Colloquium, March 19, 2022

“The Diseased Foot of a Greedy Man: French and Italian Vernacular Preaching through Exempla,”
Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting (via Zoom), April 20, 2021

“Meaning over word: Domenico Cavalca between the text and its message,” VOICES: An Interdisciplinary Conference, Rutgers University, New Brunswick NJ, November 22-23, 2019.

“Digitally-Enhanced Teaching and Learning for Language and Culture Teachers and Learners: Reflexive and Reciprocal Feedback,” in the panel “Technology in the Curriculum,” The Northeast Association for Language Learning Technology Conference, Philadelphia PA, April 6, 2019.

“Beyond Passion: Love between the Fiore and the Comedy,” in the panel “The Commedia: Text and Responses,” Medieval Academy of America Annual Conference, Philadelphia PA, March 8, 2019.

“Presentazione del progetto di edizione dei testi statutari dell’Arcadia,” Convegno internazionale di studi “Canoni d’Arcadia,” Sapienza Università, Rome, June 8, 2018.

    Research Interests

    Dante Alighieri; medieval literature; preaching; philology; lives of saints; Medievalism; reception studies; digital humanities.

    Courses Taught

    University of Pennsylvania, Graduate Teaching Fellow (Instructor of Record), Philadelphia PA Department of Romance Languages
    •    Italian History: Dante (Spring 2023) (in Italian)
    •    Dante’s Divine Comedy: through Hell with Love (Spring 2020)
    •    Elementary Italian I (Fall 2018; Spring 2021; Fall 2021)
    •    Elementary Italian II (Spring 2019; Spring 2022)
    •    Intermediate Italian I (Fall 2019)
    •    Intermediate Italian II (Spring 2020)

    DePauw University, Summer Language Teaching Assistant, Grado (GO), Italy | Summer 2022
    •    Elementary Italian I & II
    •    Intermediate Italian I & II
    •    Advanced Italian I & II

    Selected Publications

    Edited Books

    Elisabetta Appetecchi, Maurizio Campanelli, Cristina Di Bari, Achille Giacopini e Mario Sassi, eds. I testi statutari del Commune d’Arcadia. Rome: Accademia dell’Arcadia, 2021.


    Mario Sassi, “Vernacular Religious Miscellanies of Exempla: The Case of UPenn Ms. Codex 331,” Manuscript Studies (accepted; forthcoming, 2023).

    Mario Sassi, “Strategies of Interpretation in French and Italian Exempla,” Medieval Sermon Studies 66 (2022): 3–19. DOI: 10.1080/13660691.2022.2139486

    Mario Sassi, “The Language of a Preacher: Cavalca, Passavanti, and the First Steps toward a National Vernacular,” Rivista di storia e letteratura religiosa 58, no. 1 (2022): 27–49.


    Laboratorio Carte d’Arcadia. Esercizi di edizione.

    Ms. 1, c. 7r: Alfesibeo Cario (Giovan Mario Crescimbeni), Liete, soavi, fresche e limpid’onde.
    Ms. 1, c. 129v: Erasto Mesoboatico (Francesco Cavoni), Sylvestrem, precor, Erastus modo sumat avenam.