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Taylor Institution


Unfortunately, this event has now been cancelled.



This year, Professor Jennifer Burns (University of Warwick) will give the Taylor lecture.

Lecture Blurb: Responding to Gillian Whitlock’s notion (2006) that transnational autobiographies function as ‘soft weapons’ in negotiating cultural intolerance or indifference, this lecture considers the cultural and political work expected of narratives of migration and ethnic minoritization in Italy since 1990. Life narratives in multiple forms dominate in this literature, hand-in-hand with the paradigm of struggle. My enquiry examines constructions of the ‘I’ that tells her, his, or their story in a sample of narratives. It probes how the acutely relational quality of individual subjectivity in the lived experience of transnational mobility may be performed through intricate production of narrative voice, and how the ‘I’ of the named author/s figures in this process. Examination of how a minoritized voice may be crafted to hold authority and summon response brings attention also to the limits and possibilities of the stories such a subject may tell: must these stories tell of struggle, exclusion, trauma and dehumanization if they are to engage readers?

Speaker Biography: Jennifer Burns is Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Warwick. Her research, teaching, and supervision have engaged primarily with post-WWII Italian literature and culture, focusing on the history of concepts of political commitment in Italian literary and cinematic culture, on narratives by migrant, mixed-ethnicity, and postcolonial writers in the Italian language (Migrant Imaginaries, 2013), and most recently on developing a transnational methodology for the study of cultural production and practice in Modern Languages. She is an editor of the ‘Transnationalizing Modern Languages’ series published by Liverpool University Press and co-edited with Derek Duncan the cornerstone volume of the series, Transnational Modern Languages: A Handbook (2022).