Ryan Pepin is an Associate Lecturer in Medieval Literature at the University of York. He currently holds a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. Previous to his return to the UK, he was Visiting Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Marco Praloran Fellow at the Fondazione Ezio Franceschini in Florence, and the holder of an Ernst Mach Grant at the University of Vienna.
Ryan is a scholar of Dante and of medieval Latin and Romance poetry more broadly. He is particularly interested in metre and rhythm and the development of new poetic forms in the Middle Ages.
Ryan’s doctoral work on Dante, currently being revised and under contract with SISMEL/Edizioni del Galluzzo, looks at repeated formal or ‘rhythmical’ figures in the Commedia. By collecting and dissecting these figures, and interpreting how they repeat and vary, a new understanding of Dante’s craft emerges. Together with allied scholarly disciplines - in particular the textual criticism of Dante’s Commedia - this work also brings to the fore a new community of engaged medieval readers: scribes whose formal memory of the poem led to erroneous contamination in the act of copying.
For the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at York, Ryan is undertaking a project on Latin and vernacular metricology. Dante was the first to claim the title of ‘poet’ for vernacular versifiers, but his hesitation about the term speaks volumes. He makes clear the gulf between poetae and the new vernacular ‘poets’: the former write ‘according to the rules’ whereas the latter stumble on their forms by chance, ‘a casu’. In the first instance, Ryan is building a lexicon of formal terms found in both Latin and vernacular poetic theory. Then, using metricological and digital tools (in particular Natural Language Processing tools), he will investigate possible formal proximities between poetry in Latin and the vernacular, seeking to understand how much being a ‘poet’ in the vernacular meant still absorbing influence from Latin.
Ryan has taught both graduate and undergraduate students in the US and the UK. He warmly welcomes dissertation proposals from undergraduate students at York.