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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. In 2013, I published a book on translingual poet Amelia Rosselli. I have published several articles, edited several books and special issues for A-rated journals exploring the role of periodical culture in Italy, and the relationship between publishing institutions and translation.

I am currently leading two research projects:

The first 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.

My second 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).

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome expressions of interest for doctoral research in Literary translation; 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

  • 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)
  • Andrea De Falco (Italian Studies): The Paperback revolution between the UK and Italy
  • Penelope Ditchfield (Italian Studies): Cecil and Sylvia Sprigge and their role in the cultural diplomacy between the UK and Italy 1930s-1950s
  • Andrea Romanzi (Italian Studies): Franca Pivano and the American beat generation: agency, advocacy and translation

Completed supervisions

  • 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:

  • IT10NI Narrating Italy
  • IT10MI Making Italians: A Journey in the History and Culture of Modern Italy
  • ML1TRANS Thinking Translation: History and Methods (double-coded with English as EN1TRANS)

Part 2:

  • IT2INT Apocalittici e Integrati : Intellectuals and Society in Twentieth-century Italy (double-coded with History as HS2INT)
  • 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 (double-coded with History as HS3CCO)


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

Mapping Literary Space: Intellectuals, Journals, and Publishing Firms in Italy 1940-1960

This AHRC-funded research focuses on the patterns of organisation, cultural activity, and aesthetic programme of literary intellectual networks in Italy in a period of Italian history (1940-1960) characterised by radical historical, political, social and cultural changes. It does so through a detailed study of a range of literary journals, differing widely in life-span, geographical location, political allegiance, and aesthetic interests. This project builds on the hypothesis that literary journals have always serviced new writing, introduced readers to new artistic movements across continents, engendered debate, disseminated ideas, and more importantly sought to challenge settled aesthetic and cultural assumptions. This project, however, does not only look at the ways in which Italian intellectuals and writers traditionally verbalised cultural discourses and aesthetic concerns in journals in order to establish or counter forms of cultural hegemony; it also assesses and describe the ways in which intellectual networks used

(a) literary journals to create sites for discussion and dissemination of their aesthetic, literary, and political concerns to national and transnational audiences,

(b) how they sought to disseminate these ideas through strategic alliances with commercial and institutional outlets, such as emerging or established publishing houses of the day, and

(c) how intellectuals and writers used literary journals to map their new public identity and define their own space for public intervention.

Public-funded research projects

  • 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: I am one of the two 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 held the positions of Research Division Leader for Modern Languages and Linguistics (2017-2019) and 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 have acted as Senior Co-Editor of international peer-reviewed journal the Italianist. I led the journal as 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); Società Italiana delle Letterate (SIL); British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA); European Network for Comparative Literary Studies (ENCLS)

Professional Advisory or Consultancy Work

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

2012-2015: Member of the AHRC Peer Review College

Extra-mural Service and Leadership

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)

Conference organisation

  • Co-organiser (with Sara Pesatori and Peter Robinson): 'Torna il tuo cielo d'un tempo': A Centenary Conference on Vittorio Sereni, Reading, 6 June 2013. (Guest speakers Edoardo Esposito; Barbara Colli; Maurizio Cucchi)
  • Co-organiser (with Federico Faloppa, Paola Nasti and Francesca Billiani): 'Transnational Italy: National Identity and the World Atlas', Reading, 14-15 July 2012. (Guest speakers: Vittorio Coletti, Gisèle Sapiro, Donald Sassoon, Nick Havely)
  • Organiser of the International Symposium 'Publishing Institutions and Translations: a European Perspective', Reading MERL, 17 January 2009.
  • Organiser of the International Conference 'Meneghello: Fiction, Scholarship, Passione civile', Reading MERL and Istituto Italiano di Cultura, London, 13-14 June 2008. (Guest speakers: Francesca Caputo, Paul Corner, Giulio Lepschy, John Scott; Stuart Woolf)
  • Co-organiser (with Dr Daniela Caselli) of the International Conference 'Value and Visibility: Twentieth-century Poetic Translation in Italian and English', the Institute of Romance Studies, 10-11 September 2004. (Guest speakers: Lawrence Venuti, George Steiner, Pier Vincenzo Mengaldo).