Theodore Ell

BA (Languages) (Hons I), MPub, GCPP, PhD
Honorary Lecturer, School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
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

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 and Mosaici. Theodore presented a major paper on Bigongiari’s travel writing, ‘I viaggi fuori di casa’ (‘Travels away from home’), at the Bigongiari-Luzi-Parronchi centenary conference in Florence in 2014. The paper was subsequently published in the two-volume essay collection L’ermetismo e Firenze (Hermeticism and Florence, Firenze University Press, 2015), a definitive reference work for the study of Bigongiari’s period. In others event marking Bigongiari’s centenary, Theodore participated in a week of commemorations in and around Pistoia, and lectured on Bigongiari (reading several translations) by invitation at Downing College, Cambridge, UK, in November 2014. His 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 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 is himself a poet and has published extensively in Australian anthologies and newspapers, including The Australian, The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald. In July 2022, his poetry collection Beginning in Sight will be published by Recent Work Press (Canberra). In 2012, he co-founded the journal of international literature Contrappasso Magazine, which he served as co-editor for four years. 


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Updated:  26 June 2022 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers