Teaches Italian language and literature, literary theory, and writing; works as a translator.

The main focus of my research and publications is the relationship between ethics and aesthetics in 20th-century Italian literature. In particular, I have studied how authors who write from a culturally marginal perspective challenge the highly coded Italian literary tradition by opening up a discussion on the balance between ethical issues and writing in literary texts. Currently I am investigating the relationship between Judaism and writing in contemporary Italian literature. I am the author of Writing as Freedom, Writing as Testimony: Four Italian Writers and Judaism (Syracuse University Press, 2008) and Eros Onnipotente: erotismo, letteratura e impegno nell'opera di Pier Paolo Pasolini e Jean Genet (Tirrenia Stampatori, 2003). My work also includes the translations of L'orso maggiore by Ginevra Bompiani, as The Great Bear (Italica Press, November 2000), and Simonetta Perkins by L.P. Hartley (Nottetempo, 2008).

This approach to the study of Italian literature is central to the shaping of my classes. I have designed and taught a variety of courses on Italian literature and culture: a course on the cultural construction of Italian identity (ITAS 272); a seminar on Jewish Italian literature and on the various contributions made by Jewish writers to the Italian literary tradition (ITAS 209/309); a survey course on the role of the court in the shaping of Italian cultural life during the Renaissance (ITAS 312), an advanced seminar on Renaissance theater as the mirror of a complex and dynamic relationship between power and culture (ITAS 311), and a course on 20th-century Italian poetry (ITAS 320) dedicated to the ways in which Italian landscape found expression in the literary works of its major contemporary poets. I have also been teaching a first-year seminar on literary theory for the Wellesley Writing Program (WRIT125-22).

Education

  • B.A., University of Turin, Italy
  • M.A., Brown University
  • Ph.D., Brown University

Current and upcoming courses

  • Considered since the Renaissance as a homoerotic haven, Italy was for a long time the favorite destination of many gay writers in flight from the rigid sexual mores of their home countries. In Italy‚Äôs warmer Mediterranean climate, rich and sensuous figurative arts, and ancient costumes, they found a culture that seemed more at ease with a nuanced idea of human sexuality. After all, Italy is the country that gave birth to famous artists who became icons of LGBTQ+ culture, such as the painter Caravaggio and the poet Pasolini, and that, unlike other Western nations, never had laws criminalizing homoeroticism. Today, paradoxically, Italy is the Western European country which is most lagging behind in passing legislation in support of LGBTQ+ rights. From the lack of a full legal recognition of gay marriage and adoption rights to the failure to approve a hate-crime bill for the protection of LGBTQ+ individuals, Italian society still shows great reluctance to grant full equal rights to LGBTQ Italians. With these historical contradictions in the background, this course will retrace the steps of the rich, complex, and often tortuous path of LGBTQ+ culture in Italy from the early representations of sodomy, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, in works by Dante and Poliziano, to the shaping of a political and social discourse around homosexuality in literary texts by twentieth century writers, such as Saba, Bassani, Ginzburg, and Morante, to the emergence of a political debate on current LGBTQ+ issues, such as AIDS, homophobia, transgender and transexual rights, in works by contemporary artists, such as Tondelli, Bazzi, and Lavagna. (ITAS 210 and PEAC 210 are cross-listed courses.)
  • A study of translation in theory and in practice, in its literal and metaphorical senses alike, and of the multilingual world in which translation takes place. Topics: translation of literary texts, translation of sacred texts, the history and politics of translation, the lives of translators, translation and gender, machine translation, adaptation as translation. Students taking the course at the 300 level will do a substantial independent project: a translation, a scholarly inquiry, or a combination of the two.