Professor of Italian Literature
Professor Steinberg joined the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures faculty in 2003. His scholarship focuses on medieval Italian literature, especially on Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, and the early lyric. Related interests include manuscript culture/material philology, reception studies, the connections between legal and literary culture, and medieval political theory.
Based on original research of manuscripts and documents, his first book Accounting for Dante: Urban Readers and Writers in Late Medieval Italy (Notre Dame: Notre Dame UP, 2007) re-examines and re-theorizes Dante’s relation to his contemporary public, especially those lay readers--namely merchants and notaries--who first copied, preserved, and circulated his poetry. It won the MLA’s Scaglione Publication Prize for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies. His most recent book, Dante and the Limits of the Law (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2013) offers the first comprehensive study of the legal principles underlying Dante’s Divine Comedy, focusing on legal exceptions as fundamental both for Dante's political vision as well his poetics. It won the MLA's Howard R. Marraro Prize. Currently, he is working on theological/legal/literary conceptions of fictio, on Dante's engagement with the question of "Jewish" justice, and on a book project (Mimesis on Trial: Evidence, Inquest, and Realism in Boccaccio's Decameron) exploring the connection between procedures for investigating and depicting crime and representations of the real in the trecento novella.
Professor Steinberg is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal Dante Studies.