- Ex: 33027
AddressFoster Court 349
University College London
Reader in Italian and Comparative Literature
Faculty of Arts & Humanities
My research interests range across a variety of areas, including experimental writing, Postmodernism, literature and music, philosophy of language and literary theory, literature and religion, cultural representations of catastrophe and apocalypse. I am co-investigator for a large AHRC-funded research project, “Interdisciplinary Italy 1900-2020: Interart/Intermedia”, , and I am working on a comparative study of the European apocalyptic novel.
Experimental Literature and Art, 1955-1975
My book "The Eloquence of Ghosts" (2010, winner of the 2012 Edinburgh Gadda Prize) examines the creative possibilities of hybrid genres and open form, as they emerged in the context of Italy’s literary and artistic neo-avant-garde of the Fifties and Sixties. I explore the influence of literary and philosophical models, the relationship between literary and visual texts, and changing assumptions about realism and fantasy. I am also interested in the idea of a nostalgic and deliberately anachronistic “late modernism”, in explicit contrast with Postmodernism’s radical displacement of established norms. Giorgio Manganelli, one of Italy’s most original authors, has been at the centre of this project, but I am also interested in the works of Italo Calvino, Primo Levi, Elsa Morante, Guido Morselli, Paolo Volponi. I wish to trace similar tensions on a European level, and have been exploring the possibility of a European network for the study of experimental literature and artistic border-crossings during Europe’s “long Sixties”.
As co-investigator for the large AHRC-funded research project, “Interdisciplinary Italy 1900-2020: Interart/Intermedia”, , I have been concerned with the recent fascination with interdisciplinarity and the profound crisis of traditional institutions of learning and research. My own research, in this context, explores interdisciplinary practice not only as a research method (“Writing like music”, 2008), but also as a way of strengthening institutions and disciplines, by increasing our ties with those working outside of academia.
Apocalypse Fiction and the Literature of Last Men
This project is inspired by my work on the post-war avant-gardes and originates from the idea that dystopian fiction – as I suggest in “Finire il mondo” (2003) – flourished in the Seventies as an alternative to both traditional realism and radical stylistic experiments. My comparative and interdisciplinary approach highlights the continuities between religious and secular philosophies of history, and examines apocalypse fiction as a privileged point of encounter between literature, philosophy and religious thought, as well as between “high” and “popular” culture. I explore this idea in a recent journal article (“Naturalizing apocalypse”, 2012) and have started collecting material for a monograph, which traces the historical origins of last man fiction to the Romantic period. My interest in solitary survivors is also central to the research-led module LITCG006 “Apocalypse Literature”.
Dottorato di Ricerca
|Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa|
Doctor of Philosophy
|University of Oxford|
Master of Arts
|University of Oxford|
Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
Philosophy and Modern Languages (Italian)
|University of Oxford|
Educated in Germany, Britain and Italy, I have been introduced to different and complementary ideas of excellence in scholarship and teaching, which have shaped my activity as an academic, at UCL and beyond. My double interest in literature and theory – originally prompted by an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Italian at Balliol College, University of Oxford – has over the years evolved into an intellectual commitment to several disciplines, and to multidisciplinary inquiry. My research interests range across various areas and include experimental writing, Postmodernism, literature and music, philosophy of language and literary theory, literature and religion, cultural representations of catastrophe and apocalypse. More generally, I have taken a leading role in two fields: Italian Studies and Comparative Literature.
My book "The Eloquence of Ghosts" (2010) was awarded the Edinburgh Gadda Prize 2012. I was Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Rome (2011) and Visiting Lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Oxford (2006) and have given lectures at more than thirty universities in Italy, Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, and the Netherlands. I am a member of the editorial boards of six journals, and co-investigator for the large AHRC-funded research project, “Interdisciplinary Italy 1900-2020: Interart/Intermedia”, which brings together musicians, academics, museum curators, artists and teachers. My strand of the project focuses on experimental writing and artistic border- crossings in the Sixties.
In the field of Comparative Literature, I have served on the executive committees of the British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA) and the Réseau Européen d’Etudes Littéraires Comparées. I am a longstanding member of the organizing committees of Hermes: Consortium for Literary and Cultural Studies and Synapsis: European Summer School in Comparative Studies. In 2009, I inaugurated the London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Studies (LINKS). More recently, I became a founding member of the International Network for Comparative Humanities (INCH), established by the Princeton Global Collaborative Research Fund in 2012. I am also general editor of a book series, New Comparative Criticism, published by Peter Lang, which examines new trends in comparative literature, and encourages critical dialogue between scholars at an international level.
On sabbatical leave from Sep 2017 until Sep 2018:
Research Fellow at the British School at Rome