Theodore Ell

BA (Languages) (Hons I), MPub, GCPP, PhD
Honorary Lecturer, School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Literary Studies 2005
  • Literature In Italian 200513
  • Other European Literature 200515
  • Comparative Literature Studies 200524
  • Stylistics And Textual Analysis 200526
  • Italian Language 200309
  • Creative Writing (Incl. Playwriting) 190402

Research interests

* Modern Italian literature and history

* Literature from and about Lebanon and the Levant

* Literary representations of conflict, survival and resilience

* Literary travelogues

* Philology and biography

* Archival research methods

* Methods for transcribing and interpreting archival documents


Theodore Ell studied literature and modern languages at the University of Sydney, where he obtained his PhD in 2010 with a thesis on the war writing of Italian author Piero Bigongiari (1914-1997). As well as Canberra and Sydney, he has lived in Bologna, Florence and Beirut.

Theodore won the 2021 Calibre Essay Prize, for 'Façades of Lebanon,' his account of surviving the Beirut port explosion of 4 August 2020. The essay was published in the July 2021 edition of the Australian Book Review. The poetry collection that Theodore completed while living in Lebanon, Beginning in Sight, was published in June 2022 by Recent Work Press (Canberra) and jointly won the 2022 Anne Elder Award. In 2023, he was made a member of the Canberra Critics' Circle.

As an Honorary Lecturer at ANU, Theodore's research and teaching focus on Italian literature. He has written extensively on the Florentine author Piero Bigongiari (1914-1997) and his generation. Theodore's research and publications have revealed key lost works and documents, discovered in archives in Florence, Pistoia and Milan. His work has appeared in The Italianist, Quaderni del ‘900, Modern Greek Studies, Mosaici and in the definitive reference work for the study of Bigongiari’s period and contemporaries, L’ermetismo e Firenze (Hermeticism and Florence, Firenze University Press, 2015). Theodore's book A Voice in the Fire (Troubador Italian Studies, Leicester UK, 2015) is the first major biographical and critical study in English of Bigongiari’s war writing and anti-fascism.

In 2022, Theodore began a new project to trace the development of the sonnet in Italy from its earliest appearances in 13th century Sicily to its status as artistic 'currency' in the High Renaissance. 

In addition to this work, Theodore has written on Italian Enlightenment science for Earth Sciences History and on new interpretations of Dante for the Australian Book Review and the Dante Alighieri Society. He has translated works by Italian poets Mario Luzi, Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi, Paolo Febbraro and Paolo Totaro, and philosophers Luigi Pareyson, Mario Perniola and Paolo Diego Bubbio. Theodore also reviews poetry, fiction and translation for the Australian Book Review

Theodore's poetry has been published extensively in anthologies, journals and newspapers in Australia and overseas, including Best of Australian Poems 2022PN Review, Australian Book Review, The Canberra Times, The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. In 2012, he co-founded the journal of international literature Contrappasso Magazine, which he served as co-editor for four years. He has given guest lectures at the University of Florence and Downing College, Cambridge.


Return to top

Updated:  24 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers