Alessandra Grego was born in London and raised in Rome, where she studied Modern Languages at Sapienza University, earning a PhD in English Literature in 2004 with a thesis on the function of mythical narratives in the novels of the Victorian realist George Eliot. She has taught English language and literature for over 20 years, both in Italian universities and at John Cabot University.
Alongside a continuous interest in how and why stories are told and what effect they have on their readers, she cultivates a passion for design, illustration, and graphics, which she fostered quietly on the side until she found a way of combining her literary and visual interests in the pursuit of Digital Humanities. This relatively new approach to the study and pedagogy of literature through the use of digital tools provides, among other things, a way to visualize information about literature. She is a hand-drawn and CGI animation enthusiast, with a particular love for the movies of Miyazaki Hayao.
Grego’s early curiosity for mythical narratives and traditions has remained the focus of her research. In her research she investigates the way fiction reworks the traditional narratives shared by a historical community to challenge their original meaning and provide them with a new narrative function. She is currently preparing a book proposal on this topic.
Digital Humanities, a method of inquiry opening new fields of study in literature using digital tools, interest her both as a researcher and as a teacher. She is working on a project to classify and analyze intertextual references in fictional texts, a digital archive of nineteenth century writers visiting Rome, and on a digital exhibition of the family stories of Italian-American students at John Cabot University.
Pedagogy of Digital Humanities. Experimenting with the use of digital tools in English literature courses, Grego is investigating how digital humanities provide undergraduate students with a new approach the study of literature working with a broad historical and geographical perspective and a minute and data driven study of specific texts, while at the same time developing useful practical experience.
The diverse, multicultural environment at John Cabot University is stimulating and poses an interesting challenge to the instructor. To address this challenge, Grego works with different methods, including digital resources and tools, which encourage the class to read, think, discuss, and write critically. By performing multiple small analytical or critical exercises, which lead up to larger assignments in which they rework the information they have accumulated, students gain confidence in their ability to study works of literature, literary genres, and theories of literature. Grego enjoys teaching classes on every aspect of literature, from the Literary Survey courses (EN232), to the courses dedicated to specific genres, such as the Short Story (EN210), or the Novel (EN205). For many years she has taught courses on the Theory of Literature (EN215) and Narrative Theory (EN370), introducing students to the technical aspects of literary studies. She is particularly interested in the comparative approach of the World Literature course (EN310) which is an exciting subject to teach students from varied linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
“The Spectacle of Monstrosity in the Ballad of the Sad Cafè,” Carson McCullers Centenary Collection, ed. by Carlos Dews and Sue B. Walker. Negative Capability Press. forthcoming.
“George Eliot’s Use of Scriptural Typology: Incarnation of Ideas,” in Myths of Europe, ed. by Richard Littlejohns and Sara Soncini, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007. 123-132.
“The Dual Form of Daniel Deronda,” Rivista di Studi Vittoriani, vol. 10 (2000): 93-113.
With Gabriel Pihas and Daniel Seidel, translation of Obsolete Objects in the Literary Imagination: Ruins, Relics, Rarities, Rubbish, Uninhabited Places, and Hidden Treasures, by Francesco Orlando, Yale UP, 2006.