David Robey was a Governing Body Fellow and University Lecturer in Italian from 1970. He was appointed Professor of Italian at Manchester University from 1989, and at the University of Reading from 1998. From 2003 to 2008 he was Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council's ICT in Arts and Humanities Research Programme. He retired from Reading in 2008, and was for a period part-time Digital Humanities Consultant at the Oxford e-Research Centre.
He has published on 15th-century Italian humanism (educational and poetic theory), language and style in Dante and Renaissance narrative poetry, the computer analysis of literature, modern Italian culture, and modern critical theory. He was joint editor (with Ann Jefferson) of Modern Literary Theory. A Comparative Introduction (Batsford, 1982 and 1986), and editor of Structuralism. An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 1973), originally one of the earliest series of Wolfson College Lectures. He authored a computer-based study on Sound and Structure in Dante's 'Divine Comedy' (OUP, 2000), and extended this work to include the major narrative poems of the Italian Renaissance, now in the form of a substantial on-line analytical database Sound and Metre in Italian Narrative Verse. He was joint editor of the Oxford Companion to Italian Literature (now translated into Italian as the Enciclopedia della Letteratura Italiana Oxford/Zanichelli), and joint author of Italian Literature: A Very Short Introduction and Dante: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012 and 2015), all with Peter Hainsworth.