Research Seminars

Italian Departmental Research Seminars


All seminars are held on Wednesdays from 6pm in the Italian Seminar Room, Room 351, Third Floor, Foster Court, Malet Place, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (unless otherwise stated). View map (PDF)

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Programme - Spring Term 2016

20 Jan 2016
6 pm
Jessica Stewart
The Changing Face of Street Art in Rome

27 Jan 2016
6 pm
Niccolo' Scaffai (Lausanne)
Gli animali di Primo Levi
3 Feb 2016 Pier Vittorio Tondelli
 10 Feb 2016
6 pm
Cristina Savettieri (Edinburgh)
Masculinities at Odds: Notes on Gender and Nation in Italian Great War Literature

24 Feb 2016
6 pm
Annalisa Ricciardi and Eleonora Carinci
Renaissance Epistolography

2 Mar 2016
6 pm
Marinella Mascia Galateria (Rome)
Paola Masino: un album di vestiti, memorie, sogni

9 Mar 2016
6 pm

Andrea del Corno' (London Library) and Tabitha Tuckett (UCL)
1472: Foligno and the first printed edition of the Divine Comedy

PLEASE NOTE the venue for this seminar: ROOM 417, 4th floor, SCIENCE LIBRARY, DMS Watson Building (opposite Foster Court), Malet Place, off Torrington Place, London

16 March 2016
6 pm
Neil Tarrant (Edinburgh) and Dilwyn Knox (UCL)
The 400th Anniversary of the Prohibition of Copernicus' "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"

Other events

This section lists other events in London that are related to Italian culture and are co-organized, sponsored, or simply followed with interest by the Italian department at UCL.

Past seminars


Autumn Term 2015

Programme - Autumn Term 2015/16

13 October

Francesca Pola (art curator)

Arte Contemporanea a Villa Pisani

21 October

Marco Mondini (ISIG-FBK)

The War Life Experience in Italian First World War Autobiographical Writing

28 October

Simone Brioni (SUNY) - Unfortunately due to unforseem circumstances this seminar has been cancelled.

Race, Gender and the ‘Aliens’ in Luce D’Eramo’s Partiranno (1986)

13-17 November
Dante at 750
25 November

Ruth Ben-Ghiat (NYU) - Unfortunately this seminar has been cancelled.

Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema

2 December

Francesca Medaglia (Lincei + BA)

Allegory and Psychology in Multi-authorship Writing

9 December

Alessandro Guetta

Italian Jewish Intellectuals' usage of Hebrew and Italian in the late Renaissance

Spring Term 2015

Programme - Spring Term

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Silvia Contarini (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

Letteratura italiana e multiculturalità

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Davide Dalmas (Università di Torino)

Letteratura italiana e Riforma protestante: un incontro impossibile?

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Claude Perrus (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3)

Come leggere la Commedia di Dante: la lezione dei poeti (Eliot, Mandelstam, e altri)

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Jane Tylus (New York University)

Pastoral, Peasants, and Portraits of Rural Life in the Renaissance: Ruzante, the Rozzi, and Shakespeare

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Marie-José Tramuta (Université de Caen)

Alberto Savinio e l'Europa: un artista pellegrino sotto il segno di Mercurio

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Giulia Ammannati and Francesco Giancane (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)

Le epigrafi di Poggio Mirteto: la scoperta di una lauda di inizio Trecento

Autumn Term 2014


Thursday 16 October 2014

Department of History of Art (20-21 Gordon Square, London  WC1H 0AG)

Seminar Room 3


Ara H. Merjian (New York University)

Painting in Chains: Giorgio de Chirico’s Willful Claustrophilia

Part of the History of Art research seminars, held in collaboration with the Italian Department.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Alessandra Montalbano (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)

Combating Ransom Kidnapping in Modern Italy: Magistrates, Memoirs, Media

Thursday 23 October 2014,

3pm - 6pm

UCL Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street, London, WC1N 1PF, Room 118

Lampedusa: Migratory Space, Memory and Aesthetics

  • 3:00-3:15pm Federica Mazzara (UCL SELCS) Welcome and Introduction
  • 3:15-3:45pm Alessandro Triulzi (Director of Migrant Memories Archive) Working with migrants in Italy: sharing thoughts and problems
  • 3:45-4:15pm Claire Dwyer (UCL Geography) Space, migration and memory
  • 4:15-4:30pm Break
  • 4:30-5:00pm Ilaria Vecchi (film-­‐maker and activist) The collective Askavusa: The museum of migration and the Lampedusa in festival
  • 5:00-5:30pm Valentina Zagaria (writer and director) Performing Lampedusa in ‘Miraculi’
  • 5:30-6:00pm Round Table with all the speakers. Chair: Federica Mazzara (UCL SELCS)

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Luca Baldoni (James Madison University) and Flaviano Pisanelli (Montpellier III - Paul Valéry)

Poesia e omosessualità nel Novecento italiano

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Jessica Goethals (Villa I Tatti, Harvard University)

From the Grotesque to the Galilean: Margherita Costa and the Spectacle of Baroque Female Dramaturgy

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Lucia Rinaldi (UCL)

The Many Lives of Inspector Montalbano

Spring Term 2014


Wednesday 22 January 2014

Italian Merchants Abroad and the Use of Foreign Languages, 14th-16th Centuries

Francesco Guidi-Bruscoli (University of Florence)

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Il fantastico femminile: una questione di genere

Beatrice Manetti (University of Turin)

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Traumi e vittime: introduzione alla narrativa italiana contemporanea

Daniele Giglioli (University of Bergamo) in conversation with Stefano Jossa

In collaboration with Royal Holloway

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Il "New Italian Realism": genesi, caratteri, dibattito (2008-2013)

Davide Luglio (Université Paris-Sorbonne)

Wednesday 5 March 2014

L'ermetismo: una generazione

Anna Dolfi (University of Florence)

Wednesday 12 March 2014

"Porte aperte": la mafia, il fascismo e la polizia negli anni Trenta

Manoela Patti

Center Stage Series

Thursday 13 February 2014

Centre Stage Series: Rehearsing Translation

Chaired by Eva Daníčková (Dramaturgs’ Network)

Thursday 27 February 2014

Centre Stage Series: Commedia dell’Arte: From Street to Salon

Oliver Crick (Artistic Director of The Fabulous Old Spot Theatre Company)
Chaired by Chris Stamatakis (UCL)

Thursday 13 March 2014

Centre Stage Series: Not Pierrot, More Pirandello!

Facilitated by Charlotte Cox
Chaired by Enza De Francisci (UCL)

Thursday 20 March 2014

Centre Stage Series: Homage to Franca Rame: Actress, Writer, Activist

Led by Joseph Farrell (University of Strathclyde)
Chaired by Marta Niccolai (UCL)

Autumn Term 2013


16 October 2013

A dead criminal's skull: the battle over human remains and Lombroso's legacy

Silvano Montaldo (University of Turin)

Many Western museums in recent decades have had to deal with the question of the return of human remains (ancestral bones, heads and body parts) contained in their collections. This talk reconstructs the court case and media coverage surrounding the skull of Giuseppe Villella, displayed in the Lombroso Museum of the University of Turin. Villella was a petty thief, imprisoned in Pavia where he died, but his skull became famous in the scientific community due to its connection to Lombroso’s criminological theory. It was by studying this particular skull, in 1870, that Lombroso first thought he identified the signs of a particular conformation of the brain that caused criminal behaviour. That moment of ‘discovery’ was the start not only of a criminological theory, but of one of the first hypothesis about the relationship between behaviour and biology. A controversial court case, triggered by Italian politicians eager to label the Museum as racist, now threatens the continued presence of the skull in the museum. This talk highlights the value of this specimen for the history of science, the positions of the main protagonists of the skull controversy and the risks that historical revisionism poses to the future of cultural heritage.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Letture dell'ironia ariostesca

Giuseppe Sangirardi (Université de Bourgogne)

From Romantic idealism to postmodernism, from Hegel to Calvino, irony has always been seen as the key for interpreting Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso and has functioned as the base of a literary paradigm that supposedly allows for a comprehensive understanding of the multiple layers of meaning of this Renaissance masterpiece. However, despite – or perhaps thanks to – its success, this idea is not guileless. In fact, there are different kinds of irony in the Furioso, not only because Ariosto’s models for irony were various, but also because many have been the critical perspectives from which this idea has been elaborated on. Combining reception theory and textual philology, this talk outlines the critical panorama of Ariosto’s irony and illustrates some of its most unusual landscapes.
Please note: this talk will be in Italian.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

CENTRE STAGE SERIES - Playwright Roberto Cavosi: The School of Sons

Chaired by Professor Marina Warner and performed by Marco Gambino

The School of Sons is a desperate and profoundly human soliloquy, of Stefano Pirandello, the eldest son of Luigi Pirandello. Through these words, spoken by a son, his father’s total victim, we catch the most subtle intimacies of a family, so deeply tragic in character as to become paradoxically umoristico – as well as all the disgust and nausea of a son who was plagiarised and mocked. Luigi Pirandello’s love for his children was so unhealthy that they seemed to him creatures in every way like the characters of his plays: uncertain figures whom he loathed and ridiculed, as he probably also did himself. We only have to read a few lines by Stefano Pirandello (he was also a playwright who modestly called himself Landi) to understand the suffering and self-abasement of this man. ‘Death is not possible for me.  Nor is birth.  Truly, we’re here, as if we were forever born, as if we were forever alive’.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Screening + Q&A of Le Coccinelle – A Transsexual Melodrama (2012) by Emanuela Pirelli

In the working-class areas of Naples, private ceremonies are a thriving business. This is one of the few areas in the world where the stars are not the internationally-renowned ones promoted by MTV but are home-grown singers. At wedding parties, which may last over twelve hours, the performers enthral relatives and friends of the hosts throughout a gargantuan banquet. Weddings, first communions, christenings, birthdays and neighbourhood celebrations form the background to Le Coccinelleshows that entertain an audience consumed with curiosity. Children are entranced and the women are moved by the show of Le Coccinelle. The ties that bind the women with the Neapolitan transsexuals are ancient and deep and except for ceremonies, only women are allowed to watch their performances. In restaurant dining rooms decked out in fake Baroque style, Le Coccinelle sing and perform their acts. They tell stories of prostitution, of the judgement by Naples’s upper class, of the hypocrisy of their clients; but they also recount their friendships with the women of the back streets and the Neapolitans’ joyous way of life.

The director Emanuela Pirelli is a young photographer and filmmaker from Naples. She graduated at the Rome’s Institute of Photography and Communication and did photo reportage work for magazines and agencies in Naples, Rome, Milan, Amsterdam and Berlin. In 2002 she attended the Documentary School by Doc/it and Zelig. Since then she has worked as camera operator and assistant director for documentaries, news and TV formats for both Italian and foreign productions. She directed behind the scenes, arts films and filmed for several documentaries such as Winners and Losers (2007) by Lech Kowalsky.

The film (in Italian with English subtitles) will be introduced by Nicola G. Ibba and will be followed by a Q&A with the director.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Lost Honour of Italian Journalism: How the Country's Media Sector Can Restore Its Reputation and Face New Challenges Ahead

When it comes to freedom of the press, Italy ranks 57th in the world according to Reporters sans Frontières. Yet Italian citizens have access to many respected national newspapers, seven TV channels, a lively scene of information websites, a multiplicity of newswires and radios, and, possibly, more political talk shows than most other countries. How can such a situation be considered as being only ‘partly free’? With a media tycoon having run the country for the majority of the last 20 years, Italian journalism has seen its reputation dragged through the mire. Will it be restored now that Berlusconi’s power is declining? How is the country’s media landscape coping with the ongoing hard economic crisis? Tracing an history of journalism it Italy and analysing the way reporters currently operate, the two speakers will try to give an answer to these questions.

John Lloyd is a Contributing Editor for the Financial Times, Director of Journalism at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and a columnist for La Repubblica of Rome. At the Financial Times, he has been Labour Editor, Industrial Editor, East European Editor and Moscow Bureau Chief. In 2003 he launched the FT Magazinewhich he edited until 2005. He is chairman of the Advisory Board of the Moscow School of Civic Enlightenment. John Lloyd has won awards as Journalist of the Year,Specialist Writer of the Year and the David Watt Prize. He has been editor of The New Statesman in the 1980s and of Time Out in the 1970s. He has worked for Weekend World, the London Programme (LWT) and for Independent Radio News. His books include Eserciti di carta, an insightful analysis of journalism in Italy written with Ferdinando Giugliano. 

Cristina Marconi is an Italian freelance journalist and former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford. She spent six years in Brussels as a correspondent for Italian media and, before that, she worked in Rome as a financial reporter for a newswire. A graduate in Philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, she is currently based in London and is working on two projects on the European Union: a research on the press coverage of the debt crisis and a documentary about the future of the EU.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

CENTRE STAGE SERIES - Rory Keenan, Liolà at the National Theatre

In conversation with Dr Emanuela Tandello (University of Oxford)

From August to November 2013, the National Theatre staged Pirandello’s Liolà in a new version by Tanya Ronder, directed by Richard Eyre. The lead actor, Rory Keenan, will discuss how it felt to perform Liolà, offering an ‘inside’ view of this new staging which combines the Irish world of the actors with the Sicilian world of the characters. The session will be concluded with a reading by the actor of an extract from Pirandello’s work.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Revolution in Print: Mazzini’s Journalism in London (1840-1859)

Andrea Del Corno (London Library)

This talk addresses Italian political journalism in London during the years 1840-1859, primarily focusing on four journals (Apostolato PopolareIl PellegrinoL’Educatore and Pensiero ed Azione) run by Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872), the Italian activist whose advocacy for national independence and democracy was inspirational for the 1861 Unification of Italy.  Circumstances surrounding the printing and circulation of these journals have not yet been fully investigated.  This talk scrutinises their dissemination and political significance within the diffusion of Italian and, more widely, foreign-language printed materials in Victorian London.  Prominent attention is given to a rare, if not unique, print-run of Il Pellegrino, of which, until recently, no copies were known to be extant.  Mazzini’s political journals represent an outstanding and prime example of Italian exile culture and foreign-language publication in nineteenth-century London.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

La voce del corpo

Luca Vullo

An invigorating and informative journey through the art of gesticulation, led by film director, Luca Vullo. The director will introduce his docu-film, La voce del corpo, and offer a behind-the-scenes discussion on his innovative work following the 60-minute screening. A unique opportunity to learn how to gesticulate and ‘speak’ Italian through the particular code of body language.

Thursday, 12 December 2013


Marco Gambino

Talkingestures is a pilot to a larger project on body language. The expressive Sicilians have stereotypically been characterized a population which relies heavily on gesticulation. To exemplify the importance of gestures, the actor, Marco Gambino, with the support of film director, Luca Vullo, will present two versions of the same monologue. The first will see the actor perform the monologue through mime, alongside a video and musical support. In the second, Gambino will present the same monologue this time including the ‘missing’ words, and, in comparing the two different ways of communicating, will strengthen the value of talkingestures.

Spring Term 2013


23 January 2013

"Il ritorno del 'Paradiso' di Lorenzo Ghiberti: aspetti e fasi di un lungo restauro"

Annamaria Giusti (Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence)

This lecture illustrated the various aspects and phases of the restoration of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, the Florentine Renaissance masterpiece constructed between 1425 and 1452 that once adorned the east entrance to the Baptistery in Florence. A monumental set of gilded bronze doors standing at just over five metres tall and containing scenes from the Old Testament, the Gates of Paradise were in poor shape after more than five centuries, blackened by wind, weather, and pollution – not to mention the catastrophic flooding of Florence in 1966. The damage was caused by excessive humidity which allowed salts to crystallise on the bronze and corrode small holes in the surface. Removed in 1990, when replicas were installed on the Baptistery’s hinges, the sculpted doors underwent a long period of restoration (more than two decades), in which a nitrogen atmosphere was used to protect them. Today, installed in their own room at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence, the Gates of Paradise are back on display in a protective case that guarantees a constant level of humidity at 20% and filters the air in the casing, removing dust and harmful gases.

Annamaria Giusti is the Director of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, one of the foremost conservation institutes in the world, and directed the conservation work that restored the Gates of Paradise to their former glory.

Chaired by: Beatrice Sica

6 March 2013

"Florence’s Maiden Mediterranean Voyage: Felice Brancacci’s Visit to the Sultan, the Ordeal of the Florin, and the Healing Power of Masaccio’s Tribute Money"

Mahnaz Yousefzadeh (New York University)

The city of Florence inaugurated her newly built galley system in 1422, sending two ambassadors to Cairo to visit the Mamluk Sultan Barsbay. This lecture offered a close reading of the diary of one ambassador, Felice Brancacci, a prominent Florentine silk merchant and the patron of Masaccio’s iconic frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence.  The diary opened the way for an investigation into 15th-century cultural encounters in the Mediterranean, disclosing the nature of the relationship between Muslim and Christian capital cities. The examination of the chronicle revealed the ways in which Felice’s personal experiences as merchant, ambassador, visitor, and Christian guest in Egypt led not only to patronage, but also yielded the actual themes and iconography of Masaccio’s iconic fresco, “Tribute Money,” which was commissioned immediately upon Brancacci’s return from Egypt.  The lecture’s analysis of Brancacci’s cross-cultural maritime experience hence provideed important insights into the meaning of Masaccio’s enigmatic work.

Chaired by: Beatrice Sica

7 March 2013

"Affective Citizenship in Igiaba Scego’s Definitions of Roman Space"

Graziella Parati (Dartmouth College)

Igiaba Scego’s attempt to remap Rome according to a familial memory of Somalia sets up an interesting framework in spatial thinking that defines an “other’s” approach to urban space.

This event was in collaboration with the UCL Centre for Intercultural Studies

Chaired by: Federica Mazzara

 13 March 2013

"Visualizing Virtue: Renaissance Cassoni and Boccaccio’s Decameron"

Kenneth P Clarke (University of York)

With its highly complex moral landscape, the Decameron is an unusual source for Renaissance wedding chests or cassoni, which usually emphasize female virtues and obedience. Indeed, the iconography of these cassoni was mostly drawn from Latin sources such as works by Plutarch or Suetonius and the Decameron was much less frequently deployed. This talk examined some of the surviving cassoni depicting scenes from the Decameron. It looked in particular at Griselda (Dec X 10) and Zinevra (Dec II 9), in two sets of highly unusual cassoni, exploring the ways in which these women are represented and how their virtue is reinterpreted and repackaged for its audience.

This seminar formed part of a series of medieval Italian events planned at UCL that year, in connection with current research projects and with the 2013 Boccaccio Septcentenary.

Chaired by: Catherine Keen

14 March 2013

A conversation with Lorenza Mazzetti including rare screenings of her two London films K (1954) and Together (1956)

As a student at the Slade School of Fine Art Lorenza Mazzetti made her first film K based on Kafka’s Metamorphosis, featuring fellow student Michael Andrews as Gregor Samsa. With support from the Slade Professor William Coldstream and the director of the BFI, Denis Forman, Mazzetti was financed by the BFI Experimental Film Fund to make Together, with Eduardo Paolozzi and Michael Andrews as deaf-mute dockworkers in London’s bomb-damaged East End. Together was shown at the first Free Cinema event at the NFT in 1956.  With its credo of subjectivity, poetic freedom and the elevation of the everyday, Free Cinema brought Mazzetti into contact with figures such as Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson, Walter Lassally and John Fletcher. In its pronounced rejection of theatrical cinematic conventions, Free Cinema’s relationship with Italian neorealism, radical British documentary and ‘Kitchen Sink’ drama, situates it at a contested but fascinating point within post–war British culture. As an Italian woman in a predominantly male domain, working at the cusp of the profound social and cultural shifts later associated with the 1960’s, Mazzetti offers unique insights into the creative and intellectual ambitions of the Free Cinema Movement in Britain.

Mazzetti returned to Italy in 1956 where she made documentary films and wrote two novels. Her 1961 novel Il Cielo Cade (The Sky Falls,) based on her traumatic childhood wartime experiences, was made into the 2000 film directed by Andrea and Antonio Frazzi, starring Isabella Rossellini. She worked collaboratively for many years in puppet theatre and continues to paint prolifically. London Diaries – Mazzetti’s account of her time in England will be published by Sellario in Italy later this year. She lives and works in Rome.

Chaired by: Cristina Massaccesi

18 March 2013

" 'Ndrangheta: la criminalita' organizzata in Calabria e nel mondo"

Alessandra Cerreti (Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia, Reggio Calabria)

Alessandra Cerreti fa parte della Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia di Reggio Calabria, dove si occupa della ’ndrangheta. È titolare di procedimenti che hanno condotto a centinaia di arresti di appartenenti a questa organizzazione mafiosa e alla cattura di pericolosi latitanti. Ha chiesto e ottenuto il sequestro dei beni di componenti o prestanomi delle cosche mafiose per un totale di 220 milioni di Euro. Ha, infine, ottenuto e gestito la prima collaborazione con la giustizia di una donna di ’ndrangheta, Giuseppina Pesce.

Chaired by: John Dickie

18 April 2013

"To what extent has historical fiction become an ambassador for academic history?"

Sarah Dunant and Professor Lisa Jardine

Sarah Dunant and Professor Lisa Jardine discussed the extent to which historical fiction has, over the last twenty years, become an ambassador for academic historical writing. This discussion considered the publication of Sarah Dunant's novel set in Renaissance Italy and centred on the Borgia, Blood and Beauty.

Sarah Dunant is the international bestselling author of the novels The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan and Sacred Hearts, all set in Renaissance Italy. Sarah Dunant is also a broadcaster and critic. She was a founding vice patron of the Orange Prize for women's fiction and sits on the editorial board of the Royal Academy magazine.

Lisa Jardine CBE is Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College London. Professor Jardine is Director of the Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects and Director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Honorary Fellow of King's College, Cambridge and Jesus College, Cambridge. She has published extensively on the Renaissance including works on Bacon, Shakespeare and Erasmus.

Chaired by: Timothy Demetris

Autumn Term 2012


17 October 2012

"The ABCs and XYZs of Bruno Munari"

Jeffrey Schnapp (Harvard University)

30 October 2012

"Polytheism and Imperfection: The Morality and Moral of the Modern Novel"

Guido Mazzoni (University of Siena)

Between the middle of the sixteenth century and the end of the eighteenth, the method of representing social and moral life in European novels changed completely. While in the last two centuries the novel has become the genre in which any kind of story can be narrated in any manner, until the second half of the eighteenth century the representation of reality in novels had to follow strict rules that were implicitly assumed by both readers and writers. Such were, for example, the Platonic-Christian obligation to moralize stories and heroes, showing the vices punished and the virtues rewarded, and the rule of differentiating writing styles according to the social classes that were represented. What we call today "modern novel" stems precisely from overcoming these rules and asuumptions. The genre born from that metamorphosis brough a new vision of the world.

Wednesday 14 November

"Franco Basaglia and the Abolition of the Asylum in Italy : Writing a New History"

John Foot (UCL)

This lecture will look at the origins of radical psychiatry in Italy, a movement which took control of asylums in order to close them down, and which began in Gorizia, on the border with Yugoslavia, in 1961. The talk will discuss how a small group of psychiatrists were able to link up with the ideas and movements of 1968, and how this movement has been analysed and mythologised in subsequent years.

Wednesday 21 November

“Crossing the Boundaries of Post-colonial Italy: Ribka Sibhatu’s Aulò” followed by the screening of Aulò (2012)

Simone Brioni (University of Warwick)

Who are you? In an attempt to give an answer to this apparently simple question, Ribka Sibhatu, Italian writer and essayist of Eritrean origin, presents the history of her homeland in her current city, Rome. In her imaginary trip backwards through her memories, she is accompanied by a young Italian man, who shares her same interest in exploring the relationship between identity and territory. Ribka’s own personal story intersects powerfully with the stories of the Eritrean diaspora, which not only does it show the fault traces that colonialism has left behind in her country, but also demonstrates how the perception of immigration in Italy has been profoundly influenced by an apparent failure in the process of decolonization in Italian collective memory. Aulò brings into question the concept of confine, not only in geographical, but also in cultural and identitarian terms.

5 December 2012

Robert Gordon (University of Cambridge)in conversation with the author, presents:

Eleanor Chiari, Undoing Time: The Cultural Memory of an Italian Prison (Peter Lang, 2012)

Opened in 1870, Le Nuove was one of Italy’s first panoptical prisons. During the Second World War it was occupied by the Nazis, who executed and deported anti-Fascist and Jewish prisoners held there. In the 1970s it housed left-wing ‘terrorists,’ who spearheaded violent riots that spread to prisons across Italy and intimidated and assassinated prison staff. When Le Nuove finally closed down in October 2003, the memories of the tragic events that occurred there became obstacles to its demolition. This book examines the cultural memory of Le Nuove via oral history, archival research and the material traces left within the building itself to discuss memory, heritage and the legacy of political violence in contemporary Italy.

Spring Term 2012


9 February 2012

Presentazione dell’Atlante della Letteratura Italiana (Einaudi) diretto da Sergio Luzzatto e Gabriele Pedullà

Discutono: Stefano Jossa (Royal Holloway) e Gabriele Pedullà (Universita' degli Studi di Roma Tre).

Si dice spesso che la letteratura è un viaggio, nello spazio come nel tempo. Ma fino ad ora, nessuno aveva mai provato a scriverne la storia con gli strumenti del viaggiatore (di ieri o di oggi): la carta geografica, la guida artistica, la mappa topografica, se non proprio il navigatore satellitare. In questa nuova «Grande Opera» – frutto del lavoro di quasi duecento specialisti provenienti dal mondo intero – la storia della letteratura italiana viene raccontata per la prima volta alla maniera di Albert Einstein: come un vertiginoso viaggio nello spaziotempo. Ci sono i grandi personaggi della nostra letteratura, ritratti, quasi fosse una fotografia «istantanea», in un momento decisivo della loro vita. Ci sono i libri fondamentali della nostra civiltà letteraria, restituiti alla ricchezza (e alla complessità) dell’epoca storica in cui vennero prodotti. E ci sono – riconoscibili come mai prima d’ora – i luoghi di un’Italia letteraria che si estende ben oltre i limiti dello stivale: le città e le strade, gli edifici e le case, i panorami e i paesaggi, negli otto secoli che separano il 1200 dal Duemila. Lunghi intrecci e brevi istanti di svolta. Una mappa della fantasia italiana.

26 January 2012

Marco Assennato (Paris) presents his book: Linee di fuga. Architettura, teoria, politica (Duepunti, 2011) 

Chair: Robert Lumley (UCL)

Marco Assennato was born in Palermo in 1978. He has lived in Paris since 2009. He graduated in philosophy, with a thesis on Spinoza. His main field of research is the relationship between politics and architecture. He is currently doing a PhD at ENSA, Paris-Malaquais, working on a research project on Manfredo Tafuri.

25 May 2012

Literature and Transmediality

International Conference with the support of the UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS) and the UCL Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies (FIGS)

Organizers:  Florian Mussgnug (UCL) and  Emanuela Patti (UCL)

Confirmed Speakers:

Emanuela Patti (UCL, Cagliari): Remediating collective identities, narratives and myths in literature in the new media context

Jakob Stoutgaard–Nielsen (UCL) Authorship in the digital era

Claudia Boscolo (Royal Holloway) Transmedia storytelling and contemporary Italian Fiction: An Overview 

Tommaso Pincio (writer and artist, Rome)

Cristina Massaccesi (UCL) Transmedial Contamination in Italian Graphic Narratives

Otto Gabos (Graphic Novelist)

Federica Chiocchetti (UCL)  Literature and photography countering the mimetic: a theoretical exploration.

16 May 2012 

“The Ustica Massacre (1980): Reparation and Conflicts over Memory”

Daniele Salerno (University of Bologna)

On June 27th 1980, an aircraft en route from Bologna to Palermo plunged into the Tyrrhenian Sea off the island of Ustica, near Sicily. Eighty-one people died. From 1984 to 1999, three different judges investigated the case. According to the most recent sentence, the aircraft was probably shot down by a missile, launched by a warplane belonging to an unknown NATO country.

The main aim of this research (in progress) is to analyse the shaping of the public memory of this event, which found its pivotal moment in the construction of the Museum for the Memory of Ustica in Bologna. I argue that this process can be divided in three periods: the period of latency (1980-1986); the period of recognition of the massacre (1990s to early 2000s); and the years of conflicting memories (which lasts up to the present and is ongoing). These conflicts link up to a dual and interconnected tendency in the shaping of the Italian public memory of those years (the so called ‘Years of Lead’): the inability of State institutions to create an acceptable collective version of this event, and the victims’ narratives which have been pivotal in legitimising different versions of the past.

Autumn Term 2011


14 December 2011 

“Un’idea dell’Italia: L’attività nazionale nella nuova narrativa”

Filippo La Porta (Rome) 

Filippo La Porta is a one of Italy’s leading literary critics. He regularly writes for Corriere della seraIl Messaggero, and Sole24Ore. Recent publications include Maestri irregolari (2007, winner of the Premio De Lollis); Dizionario della critica militante (2007, with Giuseppe Leonelli), Uno sguardo sulla città (2010) and Meno letteratura, per favore (2010).

7 December 2011

“Cardinal Carafa's 1472 naval campaign: The protagonists and their portraits” 

Timothy Demetris (UCL) 

In the summer of 1472 Pope Sixtus IV launched a naval campaign against the Turks with Cardinal Oliviero Carafa as commander of the papal fleet. This military enterprise has received little attention from scholars. My paper will consider how it may not only inform us of Sixtus IV's early policy regarding the Turks but also provide context for his later engagement with Mehmed II's forces during the capture and liberation of Otranto in 1480-1481. I shall present a historical account of Cardinal Carafa's campaign using both modern and contemporary sources. I shall then examine the lives of those individuals involved and present the known portraits we have of them and visual representations of the campaign itself.

29 November 2011

“Representations of Italians in Britain during the Second World War” 

Margaret Rose (University of Milan)

Prof. Maggie Rose teaches British Theatre Studies at Milan State University. A writer, translator and dramaturge, she spends part of the year in the UK for her writing and research. She is a member of Playwrights Studio Scotland and the Scottish Association of Playwrights. Her stage and radio plays, reflecting her interest in issues of migration and multiculturalism as well as reworkings of Shakespeare, have been produced in the UK and Italy. Her stage translations have been performed in the UK, America and Italy. With Salvatore Cabras, she has co-translated Edward Bond’s Warplays, directed by Luca Ronconi and Alan Bennett’s The History Plays directed by Elio de Capitani e F.Bruni. Alice, an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland ran at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro in 2009 and 2010. She has co-created and co-directed festival-symposiums such as Scotsfest, Scambiare and Scottish Italian Connections and Identities. In her lecture, she will be considering various plays (Tally’s Blood, Six Months Here Six Months There, Shattered Head), documentaries (Dangerous Characters) and autobiographies, dealing with a crucial moment in history: June 1940, when Benito Mussolini declared war on Great Britain and France, and when many Italians living in the UK suddenly found themselves labelled as “enemy aliens”.

19 October 2011

“Blurred Images: The Construction of Anti-Politics in Post-War Italy"

Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg (Brown University) 

Prof. Stewart-Steinberg’s widely acclaimed study of modern Italian identity in the post-Unification period, The Pinocchio Effect: On Making Italians, 1860-1930(University of Chicago Press, 2007) was awarded the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Best Manuscript in Italian Studies by the Modern Language Association. 

This event was hosted jointly with the IHR Modern Italian History Seminar.

27 April 2011

Chiara Caprì (Palermo) presents her book Libero. L'imprenditore che non si piegò al pizzo (2011)

Chiara Caprì, one of the founders of the Sicilian anti-extortion organizationAddiopizzo, will speak about her new book on Libero Grassi, the Palermo entrepreneur murdered for refusing to pay protection money.

Spring Term 2011


23 March 2011

“Verga and Pirandello’s Women: from Page to Stage”

Enza de Francisci (UCL)

This seminar compares Verga’s and Pirandello’s method of transposing a selection of short stories to the stage; questioning what happens when authorial intervention is withdrawn and the two writers rely on dialogue and assessing how the modifications introduced to the theatrical versions affect the portrayal of women. It will be suggested that although the female protagonists take a subsidiary position in the triangular relationship they are involved in, they nevertheless dominate both narrative and dramatic plots.

16 March 2011

“The ethics of graphic design: Social commitment and visual communication”

Silvia Sfligiotti (Alizarina Studio – Milan)

Annelys de Vet (Sandberg Institute Amsterdam)

Annelies Vaneycken (Trans-ID Brussels)

The seminar will feature a presentation by Silvia Sfligiotti of Alizarina Studio Milan on the role of the user in the design process – should designers work with, for or against the users? Annelys de Vet of the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam and Annelies Vaneycken of Trans-ID Brussels will also present on their recent works, in which visual communication is used as a tool to chart and highlight tensions and cleavages in culture and society. The seminar will end with an open round table discussion with the participation of Ken Garland and Richard Hollis.

9 March 2011

“Echoes of Freedom: Representations of the Italian Risorgimento in Norwegian Literature between the 1860s and the 1910s”

Elettra Carbone (UCL)

For many Norwegians the Italian Risorgimento was seen as an inspiration, a symbol of freedom. Besides being a topical subject, especially in newspapers and magazines, the Risorgimento struggle was represented in literary works by famous Norwegian authors. How was this period of the Italian history represented before and after Norway’s independence in 1905?

8 March 2011

Screening and discussion of the documentary "La Quarta Via"

Simone Brioni (Warwick)

The director and the writer Kaha Mohamed Aden will be present.

Synopsis: Kaha Mohamed Aden narrates her memories of Mogadishu, her birth city, and reconstruct its story in Pavia, where she currently lives. The capital of Somalia is divided into five streets, which corresponds to different histoica periods. The fourth street symbolizes the actuality of civil war. This negates the preceding periods and makes it necessary to hope for the 'fifth street'. The film has English subtitles.

2 March 2011

“Cutting the strings: Postmodern/Posthuman Pinocchios”

Georgia Panteli (UCL)

The seminar focuses on postmodern retellings of Pinocchio, and these include graphic  retellings as well as some examples of posthuman Pinocchios. In my talk I will explain 
how I connect Pinocchio to cyborgs, following the literary history of the animate/inanimate  archetype, of which Pinocchio is a vital part. I will also refer in more detail to the bande dessinée that won the Fauve d'Or prize in 2009, 'Pinocchio' by Winshluss. 

23 February 2011

“Shakespeare on the Italian Stage: Acting and Directing Shakespeare in Italy”

Maria Coduri (UCL) 

The aim of this seminar is to show different trends of acting and directing Shakespeare's plays in Italy from the performances of the "great actors" of mid-nineteenth century to the first stagings of the "teatro di regia" (director's theatre).

9 February 2011

“Umberto Eco. Structure, Order, and the Deontology of Academia”

Sebastiano Caroni (UCL) 

The aim of the presentation is threefold. Firstly, to situate Eco's relationship with structuralist method and approach as a formative moment in Eco's intellectual trajectory. Secondly, the presentation discusses Eco's ideas of interpretation against the background of Eco's critique of structuralism. Thirdly, it shows how Eco's ideas of interpretation can be the starting point to explore the intellectual norms and practices that sustain the ethic of academic work.

2 February 2011

“Screening Strangers: Migration and Diaspora in Contemporary European Cinema”

Presented by author Yosefa Loshitzky (East London University)

Yosefa Loshitzky challenges the utopian notion of a post-national "New Europe" by focusing on the waves of migrants and refugees that some view as a potential threat to European identity, a concern heightened by the rhetoric of the war on terror, the London Underground bombings, and the riots in Paris's banlieues. Opening a cinematic window onto this struggle, Loshitzky determines patterns in the representation and negotiation of European identity in several European films from the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including Bernardo Bertolucci's Besieged, Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things, Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine, and Michael Winterbottom's In This World, Code 46, and The Road to Guantanamo.

26 January 2011

"Women at the Window: Dante's Vita Nova and the Framing of XIX century Desire"

Fabio Camilletti (University of Warwick)

The seminar will explore some of the methodological challenges emerged in the course of my research on the nineteenth-century metamorphoses of Dante’s Vita Nova. More specifically, by focusing on some re-elaborations of the episode of the 'woman at the window' – whose ambiguities make of it a veritable crux in Dantean philology - I will show how it is used as a frame in which the tensions of nineteenth-century desire are articulated.

19 January 2011

“Walking on the Threshold of Italian Diasporas: A North American Perspective”

Evelyn Ferraro (Brown University)

Migrants’ complex identities defy any rigid cultural classifications because of the liminal, or in-between, positions that migrant subjects inhabit. In this seminar, the spatial concept of being on the threshold will primarily be adopted to discuss contemporary literary and visual representations of the Italian migratory experience to North America vis-à-vis Italian national identity. In addition, the threshold will provide a theoretical tool to launch a preliminary reflection on Italy’s own liminality within the Mediterranean.

Autumn Term 2010


8 December 2010 

'Non si cambi la fede'. Futurism and the Post-war World

Chris Adams (Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art)

Unlike Fauvism or Cubism, Futurism was not simply a painterly technique but a way of life. This paper considers if its holistic ambition was a distinctively Italian phenomenon - the movement emerging in the home of a world religion and the birthplace of modern totalitarianism - and if Futurism's continuation in the post-war period was motivated as much by the desire to counter a newfound cultural ‘agnosticism’ as by any aesthetic differences.

3 December 2010

Italians the Good People: Reflections on National Self-Representation in Contemporary Italian Debates on Xenophobia and War

Paolo Favero (Lisbon University Institute)

Moving among historical material and contemporary debates on xenophobia and war, his seminar will explore the self-representation "Italiani Brava Gente", an image claiming the intrinsic goodness of the Italian people. Functioning as an ideological laundry for reformulating and then setting aside disquieting moments of national shame, "Italiani Brava gente" is central to the construction of  a modern Italian identity.

24 November 2010

Cultura e letteratura nella Trieste austroungarica

Giuseppe A. Camerino (Università del Salento)

Ampio panorama della caratteristiche dei maggiori scrittori triestini e giuliani tra l'Otto e il Novecento, tra attrazione della cultura viennese e austroungarica e richiamo della letteratura italiani nelo stesso periodo. Un'analisi che tocca i modi molto diversi e pur complementari con cui autori come Svevo, Saba, Slataper e Michelstaedter afrontano una complessa e irripetibile condizione di frontiera con tutti i connessi problemi linguistici, religiosi, filosofici e culturali in genere che una realtà del genere, per certi vesi altamente cosmopolita, richiedeva.

18 November 2010

Looking for a Father, Reaching Back into History

Benedetta Tobagi (UCL) presentas her book: "Come mi batte forte il tuo cuore"

Benedetta Tobagi presents her book dedicated to her father, Walter Tobagi, a "Corriere della Sera" journalist, murdered by leftist extremists in 1980.

3 November 2010

Screening of Normal (2010)

A film by Nick Mai (London Metropolitan University)
followed by a discussion with the director

NORMAL is made of the combined interviews with four migrants (2 men, 2 women) working in the global sex industry, as agents and workers, respectively. The four characters explain how they came to see their involvement in the sex industry as NORMAL and how their notion of normality evolved with their life experiences. The film lasts 37 minutes.

The actors were present.

27 October 2010

“La lingua batte dove l'immagrato duole". Language, Media and Migration in Today's Italy

Federico Faloppa (University of Reading)

Statistics say that Italy has become a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural contry. But the representation of migrants and ethnic groups in the Italian press has not changed much in the last 20 years, and derogatory labels and misreprsentations are far from being a relic of the past. Through the analysis of examples taken from newspapers and magazines, the paper will try to highlght a few linguistic elements - from lexicon to rhetoric - which seem to be part of an enduring strategy to construct and isolate 'otherness' linguistically. 

19 October 2010

Italian Writers in the UK

Laura Pariani (UCL)

“Milano è una selva oscura”: La scrittura di Laura Pariani tra Dante e la tradizione lombarda.

Spring Term 2010


23 March 2010

History and Italian Television: “La Storia Siamo Noi”

Fabio Cuzzola (Historian and Screenwriter) in conversation with John Dickie (UCL)

10 March 2010

Italy in the Credit Crunch

Luciano Segreto (University of Florence)

3 March 2010

Portraits of the Duce: iconography and aesthetics of the cult of Mussolini

Giuliana Pieri (Royal Holloway University)

3 February 2010

Sources for a History of Marginality in Italy

David Forgacs (UCL)

20 January 2010

The Literary Genesis of Primo Levi's “Se questo è un uomo”

Ian Thomson (Royal Literary Fund Fellow, UCL)

13 January 2010 

Cinematic “belle infedeli”: the Taviani Brothers and Luigi Pirandello

Guido Bonsaver (Oxford)

Autumn Term 2009


25 November 2009

Medieval desires: Bodies and Soul

Paola Nasti (University of Reading)

“Narratives of Desire: biblical paradigms and vernacular actualizations”

Heather Webb (Ohio State / CRASSH)

“Dante's Cardiocentrism”

5 November 2009

Book Launch: Salvatore Lupo’s History of the Mafia

Salvatore Lupo (University of Palermo) in conversation with John Dickie (UCL)

21 October 2009

Trieste’s border identities: construction or vocation?

Matteo Colombi (Leipzig) 

“Trieste: Everybody’s Colony?”

Katia Pizzi (IGRS) 

“Trieste: A Dissident Port”

7 October 2009 

Linguistica acquisizionale e didattica dell'italiano

Andrea Villarini (University of Siena)