Professor Jacob Blakesley

Professor Jacob Blakesley


I studied literature and philosophy at St. John’s College (Santa, Fe, New Mexico, USA), where I received my B.A. in Liberal Arts (2000). I subsequently earned an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Chicago (2003). I then received my PhD in Italian from the University of Chicago, with a dissertation examining poetry anthologies (2011).

I subsequently taught at the University of Manchester, and Durham University, before arriving in Leeds in 2014 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. From 2015 to 2019, I was a University Academic Fellow in World Literatures at Leeds, and subsequently Associate Professor.

I am now Professor in Comparative Literature and Literary Translation, along with being a Co-Director of the Leeds Centre for Dante Studies.

I’ve given about 20 invited lectures and seminars in UK universities, as well as at universities in Australia, Bangladesh, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, and Sweden. 

I am also a published translator, both of fiction and poetry. I won a 2018 NEA Literary Fellowship for my project to translate the Italian experimental poet Edoardo Sanguineti. 

PhD Supervision

I welcome potential PhD candidates especially in subjects relating to poetry and literary translation; comparative and world literature; sociology of literature and sociology of literary translation; modern Italian poetry; reception and translation of Dante; and projects at the intersection between literary study and digital humanities.

I supervise 7 current students, either as primary or secondary supervisor:

Noha Alharbi: The Role of Social Agents in Translating Feminist Novels from Arabic into English Miral al-Tahawy’s Novels as a Case Study,

Ebtisam Alsaif: The role of translation agents in translations of children's fantasy fiction into Arabic in the 21st century: A Bourdieusian perspective

Amira Askar: The socio-cultural context of translating English literary prose into Arabic in Egypt under the British colonisation: A Bourdieusian account

Francesca del Zoppo: Mondadori’s Editorial Strategies between Literary Consecration and Commercial Success (1956-1989),

Peter Freeth: Look who's back in the frame: The translator's visibility in the digital paratextual framings of translated literary texts

James Garza: The relationship between textual and reader variables in literary perception: An empirical approach to the reception of Japanese poetry in translation,

Rashad Hassan: The Socio-Cultural Variables of Self-Translating a Contemporary Arabic Novel into English,

I formerly co-supervised Gritiya Rattanakantadilok’s thesis: Translating The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen: representations of culture, gender and Buddhism


  • Co-Director, Leeds Centre for Dante Studies
  • Director of Comparative Literature

Research interests

I research and teach topics in literary translation, comparative and world literature, sociology of literature and translation, and Italian literature.

My first book, Modern Italian Poets: Translators of the Impossible, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2014.

Following my Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2014-2017), I published a second monograph, A sociological approach to poetry translation: modern European poet-translators (Routledge, 2018).

I edited the volume, Sociologies of poetry translation: emerging perspectives (Bloomsbury, 2018).

I have co-edited two special issues, one on poetry translation with Jeremy Munday (Translation & Literature, 2016): and one on Tony Harrison, with Rachel Bower (English Studies, 2018):

Many of my articles can be read here: and

Forthcoming pieces include:

  • The Wikipedia popularity of James Joyce, James Joyce Quarterly.
  • World literature according to Wikipedia popularity and book translations: the case of modern Italian poetsComparative Critical Studies 
  • 20th century poetry translations in the UK and the US, for the Oxford History of Literary Translation in English (ed. Lawrence Venuti)
  • Translating the classics, for the Routledge Handbook of Translation History (ed. Christopher Rundle)
External Consultancy and Advisory Roles

I peer-review for California Italian Studies, English Studies, Intralinea, Language@Leeds Working Papers, NEMLA Italian Studies,Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, The Italianist, The Translator, Translation and Interpreting Studies.

I review manuscripts for Bloomsbury, De Gruyter, Emerald, Legenda, and Peter Lang.

I’m on the editorial board of Testo a Fronte and FrancoAngeli’s book series Critica letteraria e linguistica. I’m co-editor of Status Quaestionis: language, text, culture.

I’m chair of the John Dryden Translation Competition. 

I’m a member of the British Comparative Literature Association Executive Committee.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Italian (University of Chicago)
  • MA in Interdisciplinary Studies (University of Chicago)
  • BA in Liberal Arts (St. John's College, NM, USA)

Student education

I convene postgraduate modules in literary translation, translation studies and specialised translation, as well as an undergraduate module in comparative literature. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Translation Studies
  • Translation
  • Centre for World Literatures
  • Centre for Translation Studies
  • Leeds Centre for Dante Studies
  • Italian
  • Literary studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>