Serena Professor of Italian

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The Serena Professorship of Italian is the senior professorship in the study of the Italian language at the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of Manchester. At Cambridge, it was founded in 1917 by a donation of £10,000 from Arthur Serena (died 1922), a shipbroker and son of the Venetian patriot Leone Serena.

Serena Professors at Cambridge[edit]

Serena Professors at Manchester[edit]

Serena Professors at Oxford[edit]

When after Grayson’s retirement the Serena Chair was ‘frozen’, because of government funding cuts, Gianni Agnelli, head of Fiat, generously agreed a contribution of £750,000 to ‘unfreeze’ the Oxford Chair. In recognition of this benefaction, the name of the Chair at Oxford became the Fiat-Serena Chair of Italian Studies.

In the summer of 2009 there was a further modification in nomenclature when the name changed to the Agnelli-Serena Chair of Italian Studies, a change which reflects more directly the role of the two great benefactors at the beginning and end of the twentieth century.


  • Charlton, H. B. (1951) Portrait of a University. Manchester U. P.; p. 173
  • Uberto Limentani, ‘Leone and Arthur Serena and the Cambridge Chair of Italian 1919-1934’, in Martin McLaughlin (ed.), Britain and Italy from Romanticism to Modernism. A Festschrift for Peter Brand (Oxford: Legenda, 2000), pp. 154-77.