Valentina A. Grasso

Visiting Assistant Professor 2021-22 & Fall 2022

Valentina A. Grasso is a Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. From January 1, Valentina will be an Assistant Professor of Semitics at The Catholic University of America in Washington (D.C.). She is also an affiliate member of the ERC project "The Qur'an as a Source for Late Antiquity" (QaSLA, 2021-6), the Cambridge Silk Road Program, and the London Society for Medieval Studies, and a chair of the International Qur'anic Studies Association “Qur'an and Late Antiquity” Program Unit.

Valentina holds a B.A. cum laude from the University of Catania (Semitic Philology, 2015), a M.A. cum laude from the University of Naples "L'Orientale" (Islamic Studies, 2017) and a Ph.D. (Divinity, 2021) from the University of Cambridge, where she completed her doctoral dissertation on the history of pre-Islamic late antique Arabia under the supervision of Professor Garth Fowden. Her doctoral dissertation will come out as a monograph ("Pre-Islamic Arabia. Societies, Politics, Cults and Identities during Late Antiquity") published by Cambridge University Press at the beginning of 2023. She is currently working on her second monograph while co-editing a volume on Indic imagery (Brepols 2024, proceedings of ISAW seminar "Indian Ocean Figures that Sailed Away") and a special issue on Arabian epigraphy and Early Islam (proceedings of ERC-QaSLA conference "Epigraphy, the Qur’ān, and the Religious Landscape of Arabia"). While her current research explores the interaction between Scriptural traditions across Afro-Eurasia, her teaching seeks to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the first-millennium world outside of a Eurocentric framework. Valentina has also joined several archaeological projects based in Iraq, Jordan, Ethiopia and Sicily.

Key publications:

  • Grasso, V. (2020). "A Late Antique Kingdom's Conversion: Jews and Sympathisers in South Arabia", Journal of Late Antiquity 13.2 (2020): 352-382.
  • Grasso, V. (2021). "The Gods of the Qur'ān: the Rise of Ḥijāzī Henotheism during Late Antiquity" in The Study of Islamic Origins. New Perspectives and Contexts, ed. M. B. Mortensen, G. Dye, T. Tesei and I. Oliver (De Gruyter).