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Valentina A. Grasso

Valentina A. Grasso

Department: Faculty of Divinity

Supervisor: Professor Garth Fowden

College: St Edmund’s College

AHRC subject area: Theology, Divinity and Religion

Title of thesis: Pagan and Scripturalist Antecedents of Islam in Arabia


After studying Classical Studies in high school, I obtained a bachelor degree in 2015 at the University of Catania in Semitic Philology. In Catania I mainly studied Imperial Aramaic and Classical Arabic. My thesis, focused on the Philistines and the early alphabets of the Mediterranean, was ranked 110/110 cum laude, the highest possible mark for my degree.
During the same year, I enrolled into the master degree “Oriental Languages and Cultures” at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. I therein continued to study both Classical Arabic and Biblical Hebrew, after having attended a Biblical Hebrew course at the University of Oxford. I spent my last MA year in England, being an Erasmus student at SOAS University of London where I have also studied Persian.
I am interested in the Islamic world of the first millennium and Late Antiquity in more general terms. I am particularly inclined toward the development of rabbinic Judaism, patristic Christianity and early Islam. I am fascinated by interfaith dialogue and the Qurʾān in its Judeo-Christian and Arabic context. My Ph.D. will be the natural continuation of my MA dissertation in Islamic Studies, which was called “The Pre-Islamic Milieu of Arabia. An Inquiry on the Jāhiliya and the Rise of the Latest Abrahamic Religion” and was also ranked 110/110 cum laude. It will emphasise the contextualisation of early Islamic developments in a composite Late Antique milieu and attempt to construct a coherent historical narrative out of our fragmentary sources.


Other academic interests:

Archaeology of the Middle East, Roman Near East, History of Iran in the first millennium C.E., Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism.