Prof Stephen J. Milner

Serena Professor of Italian Studies

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I have been Serena Professor of Italian at the University of Manchester since 2006. Between 2017-21, I was seconded as Director of the British School at Rome (BSR), the UK’s largest British International Research Institute (BIRI) and Fine Arts Academy, the first non-Classicist or Archaeologist to hold the post ( I am currently Honorary President of the Manchester branch of the Società Dante Alighieri.

In 2012, I was Robert Lehman Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence. Between 1992-2006, I was Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Italian at the University of Bristol and Lecturer in Italian at the University of Cambridge for the academic year 1991-92 and Visiting Lecturer in 1994 and 1997. I undertook my PhD. in Combined Historical Studies at the Warburg Institute, University of London under the mentorship of Michael Baxandall. As a postgraduate researcher, I held fellowships from the British Academy, the British School at Rome, the Leverhulme Trust and an Italian government award at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.

I have held a number of research fellowships. In 2015, I secured a Katharine F. Pantzer Jr. Fellowship in Descriptive Bibliography, Houghton Library, Harvard University and in 2011-12 an AHRC Research Fellowship. In 2010 I was an International Society for the History of Rhetoric (ISHR) Research Fellow, and Research Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Bristol in 2005-06. In 1999-2000, I  was a Hannah Kiel Fellow at the Harvard University Centre for Renaissance Studies, Villa I Tatti, Florence and in 1998-99 I secured and AHRB Research Leave Fellowship.

As Director of the BSR, I managed the institution through both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit and oversaw a major programme of renovation and investment in the BSR’s buildings and infrastructure, including the restoration and conservation of the iconic Edwin Lutyens façade in 2018-19 and the completion of Stages 1-2 of a £13.5m BSR New Master Plan. In 2019, I lay the foundations for a major Management and Operational Review through commissioning external HR and Library & Archive Reviews and reforming the management of the BSR’s historic funds. I introduced a new Research Managment Policy and made strategic investments in Archaeology and Digital Humanities. I established a new cross-Faculty Architecture Advisory Committee to oversee the reform and coordination of architecture within the BSR's committee structures and extended both the Humanities and the Fine Arts programmes through new fellowships. I worked to coordinate the fellow BIRIs in presenting a unified brand and shared manifesto as part of the UK’s overseas research infrastructure within UKRI’s Research Landscape Survey and HMG’s 2019 Soft Power Review led by DCMS. 

In Manchester, I was Head of Department of Italian until 2010 and again from 2012 during which time Italian at Manchester headed the NSS rankings for three consecutive years. In 2011, I proposed the re-launch of the John Rylands Research Institute at Manchester in a working paper 'Unlocking the Rylands: Stage 2', chairing the Working Party and authoring the JRRI Business Plan in 2012 which secured an initial £1.2 million to unlock the library's world leading special collections (

I have served as a member of the AHRC Peer Review College (2017-21), sat on the Rome Committee of the Keats Shelley House (2017-20) and Steering Committee of the Unione Internazionale degli Istituti di Archeologia, Storia e Storia dell’Arte in Roma (2017-20). I was on the Executive Committee of the Society for Italian Studies (2011-2016) and a member of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters of the British School at Rome (2007-13). I was Honorary Secretary of the Society for Renaissance Studies between 1992-98. I have served on the editorial boards of Italian StudiesRenaissance Studies, Annali di storia di Firenze and Papers of the British School at Rome. I am, and have been, on the Academic Advisory Boards of the Mellon-funded 'Medici Archive Project’ and the ERC-funded 'Italian Voices' and ‘Books to Craft’ projects. I am a member of the Society for Italian Studies, the Renaissance Society of America, and the International Society for the History of Rhetoric.

External positions

Honorary President, Societa Dante Alighieri (Manchester)

2019 → …

Director, The British School at Rome

1 Oct 20174 Jan 2021

Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol

1 Sep 199231 Aug 2006

Lecturer, University of Cambridge

1 Sep 199130 Jul 1992


  • Medieval Studies, Italian Renaissance, Rhetoric, Machiavelli, Cultural Studies, Manuscripts

Education / academic qualifications

  • 1996 - Doctor of Philosophy, Combined Historical Studies, Warburg Institute
  • 1985 - Bachelor of Arts, History, University of Cambridge

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