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Professor Daniela La Penna

Professor Daniela La Penna profile picture
  • Web and Social Media Officer


Miller 129

Building location

Miller building

Areas of interest

My main research interests lie in modern Italian culture and translation. For a long time, I have explored the interplay between tradition and experimentalism with form and language(s) in twentieth-century Italian fiction and poetry. I have published a book on translingual poet Amelia Rosselli (2013), two edited collections (2012 and 2023) on Luigi Meneghello and curated the new edition of his volume La materia di Reading (2022). I have published several articles, edited numerous books and special issues for A-rated journals exploring the role of periodical culture in Italy, and the relationship between publishing institutions and translation.

 Most recently, I have co-edited The Edinburgh Companion to Women in Publishing, 1900-2020

I am currently leading two research projects:

My first project looks at the international book trade and inter-firm communication across post-war Europe, and it specifically focuses on translation. This project explores the rich holdings of the Archive of British Printing and Publishing held at the University of Reading’s Special Collections. This project received support from the RETF Open Fund (2019-22), and more recently a Leverhulme research fellowship (2023-24) for a specific segment examining Jonathan Cape’s translators networks in more detail.

The second long-standing project explores issues related to resilience and change in the Italian intellectual field from 1920s to the 1960s and specifically focuses on the intellectual networks that developed around Benedetto Croce’s cultural hegemony.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome expressions of interest for doctoral research in in Italian and comparative publishing history; any aspect of translation studies; twentieth-century fiction and poetry (in particular experimentalism and multilingualism in literature); Benedetto Croce; Literary journals and Italian publishing history (post-1800); War studies; and any aspect of modern Italian intellectual history.

Current supervisions

  • Cristina De Luca (Italian Studies): How do inter-firm circulation agreements affect authors’ reception in the publishing field? The Einaudi-Mondadori agreements of 1957 and 1967 (ongoing) 
  • Carlo Felice Petruzzi (Italian Studies): Un recupero della memoria scritta e orale di Carmelo Bene (ongoing) 
  • Nawal Sulaiman Alfozan (Translation Studies): Exploring Post-colonial Translation Strategues: the Case of Arabic Fiction into English (ongoing)
  • Martina Biavati (Comparative and Intercultural Studies): The Memory of Women Resistance Fighters in Italy and France (ongoing)
  • Penelope Ditchfield (Italian Studies): Cecil and Sylvia Sprigge and their role in the cultural diplomacy between the UK and Italy 1930s-1950s

Completed supervisions

  •  Dr Andrea Romanzi: ‘It always started with Nanda’: Fernanda Pivano and the Italian reception of the Beat generation (completed in 2022) 
  • Dr Fabio Simonetti: British Military Encounters with Italian Civilians: 1943-1946 (completed in 2021)
  • Jacopo Buffo: Percezione degli ebrei e conoscenza della cultura ebraica in Dante e nell’Italia medievale (MPhil completed in 2021)
  • Dr Marta Pozzolo: Luigi Meneghello e Carlo Dionisotti: una biografia intellettuale di due espatriati in Inghilterra, tra formazione fascista e militanza azionista, tra impegno accademico e pensiero transnazionale (completed in 2019)
  • Dr Valentina Calista: La salmodia di Turoldo: un approccio interdisciplinare (completed in 2018)
  • Dr Stefano Bragato: Strategie di composizione letteraria in Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (completed in 2015)
  • Dr Tamara Colacicco: Strade e volti della propaganda Fascista: La diffusione dell'Italiano in Gran Bretagna 1921-1940 (completed in 2015)
  • Dr Ilaria Poerio: Il confino di polizia: una scuola di dissenso (completed in 2014)
  • Dr Tiziana Mancinelli: La camera da letto di Attilio Bertolucci: Un'edizione critica digitale (completed in 2013)
  • Dr Sara Pesatori: Vittorio Sereni traduttore di William Carlos Williams: un'edizione critica delle version edite ed inedite (completed in 2012)


Undergraduate teaching

I convene and teach the following UG modules:

Part 1:

  • IT10MI Making Italians: A Journey in the History and Culture of Modern Italy
  • ML1TRANS Thinking Translation: History and Methods

Part 2:

  • IT2INT Apocalittici e Integrati : Intellectuals and Society in Twentieth-century Italy
  • IT2FI Fictions of Italy: Themes and Genres
  • ML2GF Science, Perversion, and Dream in Global Fantastic Literature

Part 3:

  • IT3VS Voice and the Self in Modern Italian Poetry
  • IT3CCO Crisis, Change, Opportunity: Italy from 1968 to the Present

 Postgraduate teaching

I contribute to the MA module FTMWD World Cinema, and to ENRPB Researching the Printed Book module for the MA in English. I am the convenor of the Italian History option for the MA in History.

Research projects

Externally funded research projects

  • 2023-2024: Leverhulme Research Fellowship for the project: Publishing Translation: Jonathan Cape's networks and protocols
  • 2023-24: Host of a British Academy-funded Visiting Fellowship (Prof Özlem Berk Albachten: Mapping the Translation of Turkish Literature in Publishers’ Archives)
  • 2019-2021: supervisor of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Individual Fellowship (Dr Elisa Bolchi: ‘Virginia Woolf and Italian Readers’)
  • 2018-19: Host of a British Academy-funded Visiting Fellowship (Dr Sara Sullam: ‘British Novels for European Readers, European Novels for British Readers: A Working Hypothesis for the Anglo-Italian Case (1945-1965)
  • 2017-2020: P-I on the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with the Imperial War Museums for the project ‘British Military Encounters with Italian Civilians 1943-1946'.
  • 2012-2015: Principal Investigator: ‘Mapping Literary Space: Intellectuals, Journals and Publishing houses in Italy, 1940s-1960s’. AHRC Early Career Research Grant: £191,866
  • 2012-2017: UK-based researchers contributing to the FIRB project 'Storia e mappe digitali della letteratura tedesca in Italia: l'editoria, il campo letterario, le interferenze: ll Novecento'.
  • 2012-2014: Co-Investigator: ‘Diasporic Literary Archives: Questions of Location, Ownership and Interpretation’. An International Research Network funded by The Leverhulme Trust: £124,500
  • 2004-2005: AHRB research leave (April-July 2005) in support of my research project on 'Style and Sources in Amelia Rosselli's oeuvre': £10,510 


I am a co-founder and co-director of the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing. I was Head of the Department of Languages and Cultures from 2019 to 2023.  

Previously, I held the positions of Research Division Leader for Modern Languages and Linguistics (2017-2019), Departmental Director of Postgraduate Studies and the Programme Director of the MRes in Modern Languages (2010-2017).

Between 2010 and 2017, I led the Post-Graduate Training Consortium in Italian Studies (comprising the Italian Departments of Reading, UCL, RHUL, Oxford and Cambridge).

Between 2016-2019, I acted as Senior Co-Editor of international peer-reviewed journal the Italianist. I led the journal as Sole Senior Editor between 2019-2021. Since 2015, I have been the lead on the Choose Italian national campaign.

Academic qualifications

  • 2005: Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • 2002: PhD in Italian Literature (University of Reading)
  • 2001: Abilitazione all'insegnamento della Lingua e Letteratura Inglese per le Scuole Medie e Superiori(English equivalent: Postgraduate Certificate of Education in English Language and Literature)
  • 1997: MA (Res) in Italian Studies, Distinction (University of Reading)
  • 1995: Laurea in Lingue e Letterature Straniere Moderne, 110/110 magna cum laude (Università degli Studi di Napoli, Federico II)

Professional bodies/affiliations

Membership of Learned Societies 

Society for Italian Studies (SIS); Association for the Study of Modern Italy (ASMI); Società Italiana delle Letterate (SIL); British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA); European Network for Comparative Literary Studies (ENCLS); European Society for Periodical Research (ESPRit), Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP). 

Professional Advisory or Consultancy Work

2002-present: I have acted as peer reviewer for University of Toronto Press, Routledge, and the following journals: Forum for Modern Language Studies, Romance Studies, Jourrnal of Romance Studies, Testo, Autografo, The Italianist, Italian Studies, Pirandello Studies, Arena Romanistica.

2012-2015: Member of the AHRC Peer Review College

Extra-mural Service and Leadership

2013-present: member of the Society for Italian Studies executive committee

2008-2012: National representative for Italian Studies at the University Council for Modern Languages (UCML) and member of the UCML executive committee

2010-2012: Member of the UCML REF advisory panel

2008-2012: co-opted member of the Society for Italian Studies (SIS) executive committee.

2012-2015: co-opted member of the SIS executive committee

2012-2015: national representative for Italian Studies at the UCML member of the exec committee

2012-2015: member of the peer review college of MIUR, the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities, and Research (Ministero dell'Istruzione, Universita', e Ricerca)

2012-2015: designated international member of the Italian Modern Literature panel, ANVUR (National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes)



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