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Research in Italian Studies – University of Reading

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  • Migration and language

    Examining how migrants are represented in the media
    Project lead: Dr Federico Faloppa

Research in Italian Studies

Since its foundation in 1948, the Italian Studies strand of the Department of Languages and Cultures has been defined by its multi-disciplinary approach to teaching and research. It covers not only Italian literature from the Middle Ages to the present but also comparative literature, cultural studies, film studies, translation studies, linguistics, migration studies, women's studies, history, history of ideas and publishing history.

Italian Studies at Reading has a long track record of research success. It has a PhD programme in Italian Studies with an extensive coverage, consistently attracting accomplished postgraduate students from overseas as well as from this country.

Italian Studies at Reading was also the first home of The Italianist, a multi-disciplinary A-rated journal with an international reputation. The Italian Studies programme continues to edit the journal jointly with the Departments of Italian at the Universities of Cambridge and Leeds.

Research Centres

Italian Studies hosts the Centre for Modern Italian History and the Centre for Italian Women's Studies. It was also the first home of The Italianist: a Journal from the Department of Languages and Cultures, a multi-disciplinary journal with an international reputation, which was founded at Reading and is now edited jointly with the Departments of Italian at the Universities of Cambridge and Leeds.

Staff research interests

Theses are the primary areas of staff research. We are happy to supervise graduate students in the following areas:

Dr Federico Faloppa

  • History of the Italian Language
  • Italian linguistics and dialectology
  • Migration studies: Media, Policies, Discourses
  • Hate speech and anti-racist discourses
  • Language policy
  • Critical Discourse Analysis

Dr Daniela La Penna

  • Nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian literature and culture
  • Multilingualism in Fiction and Poetry
  • Cultural and intellectual history
  • Publishing history and periodical studies (1800-present)
  • Literary Translation: Genres, Agents, Markets
  • Women's writing (1800-present)

Dr Charles Leavitt

  • Italian cinema: Auteurs, Industry, Genres
  • Twentieth-century Italian literature and culture
  • Cultural and intellectual history

Dr Paola Nasti

  • Medieval literature
  • Medieval cultural and intellectual history
  • Medieval Theology and ecclesiology
  • Dante Studies
  • Bible and Literature
  • Women's writing (Middle Ages and Renaissance)

Staff research activities and collaborations

Dr Federico Faloppa

Dr Federico Faloppa has participated to various externally funded research projects focusing on migration and language, including the AHRC-funded international network 'Researching and Documenting Key Words in European Migration Discourses. Currently, Dr Faloppa is Co-Investigator for the ESRC-funded international network 'ProLanguage', which focuses on language policies and practices in refugee settings, and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) 'MultiMind'. He collaborates with the Academia della Crusca and is a consultant for the Italian NGO "Carta di Roma". Dr Faloppa provides training for media operators and healthcare professionals on migration discourse. He is also collaborating with the trade union CGIL on intercultural communication, and sits of the board of the Alexander Langer Foundation in Bozen/Bolzano. Dr Faloppa is active member of the CeLM steering committee. Dr Faloppa's research contributes to the activities of the 'Corpora, Manuscripts, and Archives' and 'Identity, Migration, and Conflict' research clusters.

Dr Daniela La Penna

Dr Daniela La Penna is Senior Co-Editor of the The Italianist. She has recently completed an AHRC-funded project on 'Mapping Literary Space in Post-War Italy: Publishing Institutions and Literary Journals' (2012-2015). She was co-investigator for the Leverhulme international network Diasporic Literary Archives (2012-2014), which has established partnerships with the Beinecke Library at Yale University; Centro Manoscritti in Pavia; l'Institut Mémoires de l'Edition Contemporaine (IMEC) in France; The National Library and Archives Service of Namibia, and prominent archivists from Trinidad and Tobago. Dr La Penna is a member of the advisory board for a FIRB-funded project on the reception of German literature in post-war Italy, involving the Universities of Trento, Siena, and Roma La Sapienza (2013-2018). Dr La Penna is part of the University's Collections Research Network and her research falls in the research contributes to the activities of the 'Corpora, Manuscripts, and Archives' and 'Intellectuals and Networks' research clusters.

Dr Charles L. Leavitt IV

Dr Charles L. Leavitt IV specialises in modern Italian literature and cinema in a comparative context. He is co-editor of The Italianist  film issue. He was formerly an Annese Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and a Presidential Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Notre Dame (USA). Dr Leavitt is active member of the University of Reading's Centre for Film Aesthetics and Culture. Dr Leavitt contributes to 'Intellectuals and Networks' and 'Identity, Migration, and Conflict' research clusters.

Dr Paola Nasti

Dr Paola Nasti is a member of the Reading Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, the University of Reading's Centre for Film Aesthetics and Culture, and the research cluster on Language, Text, and Power.  She is currently involved in two important international networks on Dante:

  • Re-reading Dante's Vita Nova. The project that aims to re-assess Dante's Vita Nova through a series of events and workshops.
  • Dante's Florentine Vernacular Culture, 1280-1301, led by the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.

Dr Nasti also contributes to the activities of the 'Corpora, Manuscripts, and Archives' and 'Intellectuals and Networks' research clusters.

Meneghello Exhibition, 2016

Past and present research subjects

Il misticismo ebraico nell'opera di Dante (ongoing)

  • Jacopo Buffo
  • Supervisors: Dr Paola Nasti and Prof Catherine Leglu

Dante e le Confraternite (ongoing)

  • Michael Biasin
  • Supervisors: Dr Paola Nasti and Prof Catherine Leglu

Italian intellectual Diaspora in the UK: Luigi Meneghello and Carlo Dionisotti (ongoing)

  • Marta Pozzolo (SWW DTP)
  • Supervisors: Dr Daniela :La Penna and Prof Charles Burdett (Bristol)

Il “mito di Napoli” nell’epistolario di Michele Prisco (1939-1962)

  •  Alessia Pirro
  • Supervisor: Prof Carlo Vecce (Orientale, Naples)
  • This project was funded by the University of Reading and carried out in co-tutorship with University of Naples “L’Orientale”.

British Military Encounters with Italian Civilians 1943-1946 (ongoing)

  • Fabio Simonetti (AHRC)
  • Supervisors: Dr Daniela La Penna, Prof Hilary Footitt, and Dr Suzanne Bardgett (Imperial War Museums)

Fernanda Pivano and the Italian Beat generation: Translation and literary agency in post-war Italian publishing market (ongoing)

  • Andrea Romanzi (SWW DTP)
  • Supervisors: Dr Daniela La Penna and Dr Carol O'Sullivan (Bristol)

Recent and on-going PhDs in Italian Studies span a broad range of periods and topics, and we welcome enquiries and proposals relating both to discrete specialisms and to interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work.

PhD opportunities


As a PhD student in the Modern Languages and European Studies Department, you will be provided with a desk in a shared office.

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