Umberto Grassi

Umberto Grassi is undertaking a three-year Marie Curie Global Fellowship, commencing 2018 at the University of Maryland, USA. From September 2015 to March 2018, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Sydney node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE), working with Dr Juanita F. Ruys. His project was part of the Meanings program, led by Professor Bob White. From 2018 to 2021, he is an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia.

Grassi graduated (MA) in Early Modern History in 2002 at the University of Pisa. His dissertation focused on the control of sodomy in Early Modern Italy. Grassi continued studying this topic as a PHD student, under the supervision of prof. Adriano Prosperi. His PhD thesis was awarded within a LGBTQ studies contest, and it has been published in 2014. In 2012 Grassi joined the FIRB project 'Beyond the Holy War', as a research fellow based at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa. Focused on the interactions between Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern period, the project included other Italian Universities (La Sapienza of Rome and the University of Palermo), and promoted cooperation with renowned international research centres.

Garssi is currently part of EMoDiR (Early Modern religious Dissents and Radicalism), an international research network focused on the study of religious dissent across Europe. The group brings together a variety of research projects on the cultural and social history of religious dissent in early modernity ( He is also a member of the research centre of Gender and Sexuality Studies Politesse (Politics and Theories of Sexuality), based at the University of Verona, which is today a pioneering experience in Italy (



Ambiguous Boundaries: Sex Crimes and Cross-cultural Encounters in the Early Modern Mediterranean World


Grassi, U. Bathhouses and Riverbanks: Sodomy in a Renaissance Republic. Toronto: Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, July 2021.

Grassi, U. Sodoma: Persecuzioni, affetti, pratiche sociali (secoli VX-VIII). (Sodom: Persecutions, affects, and social practices (V–XVIII centuries)). Rome: Carocci, 2019.

Grassi, U. LʼOffitio sopra l'Onestà. Il controllo della sodomia nella Lucca del Cinquecento. Milano: Mimesis, 2014. (The Offitio sopra l’Onestà. The Control of Sodomy in the Sixteenth-Century Lucca Republic).

Selected Edited Volumes

Grassi, U., ed. Mediterranean Crossings: Sexual Transgressions in Islam and Christianity (10th–18th Centuries). Viella, 2020.

Grassi, U., V. Lagioia and G.P. Romagnani, eds. Tribadi, sodomiti, invertite e invertiti, pederasti, femminelle, ermafroditi… Per una storia dell’omosessualità, della bisessualità e delle trasgressioni di genere in Italia. Pisa, ETS editore, 2017. (Tribades, Sodomites, Inverts, Pederasts, Sissies, and Hermaphrodites. A History of Homosexuality, Bisexuality, and Gender Transgressions in Italy), pp. 352

Grassi, U. and G. Marcocci (eds). Le trasgressioni della carne. Il desiderio omosessuale nel mondo islamico e cristiano, sec. XII‒XX. Roma: Viella, 2015. (The Transgressions of the Flesh: Homosexual Desire in Muslim and Christian Worlds, XII‒XX centuries).

Book Chapter

Grassi, U. ‘Emotions and Sexuality: Regulation and Deviance’. In Routledge History Handbook to Emotions in Europe, 1100–1700, edited by A. Lynch and S. Broomhall, pp. 133–50. London: Routledge, 2020 (Published July 2019).

Grassi, U. ‘Il frutto proibito. Eresia, peccato originale ed emozioni nell’Italia moderna’ [The Forbidden Fruit. Heresy, Original Sin and Emotions in Modern Italy]. In Infami macchie: Sessualità maschili e indisciplina in età moderna [Infamous Stains: Male Sexuality and Indiscipline in the Modern Age], edited by by F. Alfieri and V. Lagioia. Roma: Viella, 2018.

Selected Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

Grassi, U. 'Sex and toleration: new perspectives of research on religious radical dissent in early modern Italy'. Intellectual History Review 29.1 (2019): 129–44. DOI: 10.1080/17496977.2019.1546442.

Grassi, U. 'Ambiguous Boundaries Sex Crimes and Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Early Modern Mediterranean World'. Studi e Materiali Di Storia Delle Religioni 84.2 (Dec. 2018), 513–28.

Grassi, U. 'Identita' sessuale e medicina: Grassi legge Barbagli'. Storica (2015): 61‒62.

Grassi, U. 'Omosessualità islamiche e relazioni tra cristiani e musulmani: nuove prospettive di ricerca'. Storica 30.60 (2014):51‒89. (Islamic Homosexualities and  Christian Islamic Interactions: New Perspectives of Research)

Grassi, U. 'L'Offitio sopra lʼHonestà. La repressione della sodomia nella Lucca del Cinquecento (1551‒1580)'. Studi Storici. Rivista trimestrale dellʼIstituto Gramsci 48.1 (2007):129‒59. (The Offitio sopra lʼHonestà: the Repression of Sodomy in 16th Century Lucca Republic)

Selected Presentations

Workshop Presentation: 'Maschili Forme e Identità (Masculinity: Forms and Identity)', Università di Verona (Dept of Humanities), PoliTeSse research centre, University of Perugia (Dept of Law and Political Science), 14‒15 June 2018.
Round Table: Maschile, sessualità e narrazione storica (Masculinity: Sexuality and Historical Narrative)

Workshop Presentation: 'Gender', 'Towards a Vocabulary of Dissent' workshop, EMoDiR research group, University of Verona, 27 June 2018.

Invited talk: 'Homosexuality and Islam: A Historiographical Debate', Association for Social and Political Philosophy (ASPP) Conference, Sapienza University of Rome, LUISS Guido Carli on June, Rome (Italy), 21‒23 June 2018.

Conference Paper: 'Inquisitorial Trials and Emotional Practices: New Methodological Perspectives', Annual conference of the International Society for Cultural History, Umeå University, Sweden, 26–29 June 2017.

Public Talk: ‘Are Italians Divided On The Meaning of Liberation Day’, Federation of Italian Migrant Workers and Families (FILEF) celebration of Italian Liberation Day from Nazi Fascism, Italian Forum Cultural Centre, Sydney, 28 April 2017.

Conference Presentation: ‘Guilty Pleasures: Expressing Homosexual Desire in the Early Modern Mediterranean World’, ‘Medieval and Early Modern Declarations of Love’ panel, ‘Love and the Word’ Australasian Universities Languages and Literature Association Conference 2016, Victoria University, Melbourne, 7–9 December 2016.

Presentation: ‘Forbidden Apples: Original Sin and Religious Tolerance in the Early Modern Mediterranean World’, ‘Gender Worlds, 500‒1800: New Perspectives’ Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group conference, The University of Western Australia, 8 October 2016.

Invited Presentation: ‘Sexual Transgressions, Emotions and Cross-Cultural Interactions in Early Modern Spain’, ‘Emotions: Movement, Cultural Contact and Exchange, 1100‒1800’ conference, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, 30 June‒2 July 2016.

Invited Presentation: ‘The Sin of Adam: Sex and Toleration’, 'Les dissidences religieuses en Europe à l'époque moderne: des constructions en mouvement (liens, langages, objets)' conference, Villa Vigoni, Menaggio, Italy, 15‒18 June 2016.

Invited Presentation: ‘Il peccato di Adamo. Trasgressioni sessuali e tolleranza religiosa’, 'Percorsi di genere tra moderno e contemporaneo' conference: , Università di Bologna, Italy, 26 May 2016 (via Skype from Australia).