Lisa Tagliaferri

Lisa Tagliaferri

Kress Digital Humanities Fellow
The Renaissance Afterlife of Catherine of Siena
2019-2020 (January-June)
Portrait photo of Lisa Tagliaferri


Lisa Tagliaferri is an interdisciplinary scholar in literature and the computer sciences. As a postdoctoral researcher at MIT in the Digital Humanities program, she developed software for humanities researchers. With an interest in bringing to light the centrality of innovation throughout the history of humanistic work, Tagliaferri’s research focuses on Italian vernacular communities and recovering literary figures. Her widely downloaded programming book, How To Code in Python 3, has been adopted in classrooms as an open educational resource. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies from the City University of New York and an MSc in Computer Science from the University of London.

Project Summary

Building on previous work that affirms Catherine of Siena as a writer through contextualizing her among the corpus of fourteenth-century Italian literature, The Renaissance Afterlife of Catherine of Siena will consider the material book history of her texts and the perception of her as an author by others in Italy through the seventeenth century. This research will consist of an investigation of the book historical record surrounding Catherine of Siena during the Italian Renaissance, the construction of her as a literary figure through hagiographers and other religious writers, and Catherine’s influence upon Italian Renaissance writers either as a heroic figure that fulfils the role of a protagonist in literary texts, or as a literary model for imitation by later Italian writers in both poetry and prose. Pairing archival research with computational analysis and other digital humanities methodologies, this project will strengthen Catherine’s status as an author through exploring the rich legacy of her reception in the early modern period.