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Taylor Institution


This lecture will explore the presence of contemporary literature identified as Italian at a transnational level, questioning who writes it, where, in which forms and language/s; how it circulates and which readerships it reaches; and reflecting upon what these processes may mean in terms of global perceptions of Italian literature. Taking into account the restless critical discussions of world literature, I will consider the distinctive position of Italy, identified as both at the heart of Europe and at its edge, and of Italian language, known as both one of the European imperial languages and a ‘minor’ language in terms of number and geographical reach of speakers. I will discuss examples of how Italian literature in the world may challenge paradigms of centre/periphery by exposing a diffused relationality connecting local spaces, histories and idioms across global regions. Such narratives may disrupt established geographies and temporalities, revealing an altered perspective on the global presence of Italian literature and allowing the reader-critic to be ‘ambushed by estrangement’ (Gunew).

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).