Skip to main content
Research

I am interested in cultural works that denounce the qualitative decline of human life in modernity. My thesis project aims to provide the first substantial bilateral comparison of the works of the Italian writer Anna Maria Ortese (1914–98) and the Austrian Ingeborg Bachmann (1926–73). It seeks to demonstrate the deep psychological affinity between the two authors and their symmetrical aesthetic responses to the temporal social pressures that have determined a loss in our overall relational well-being.

        My thesis examines different genres of texts written by Ortese and Bachmann between 1949 and 1975. It does so by establishing a correlation between alienation and the aesthetics of utopia, which is examined through a three-stage, progressively encompassing approach that looks at the metaphorical ways in which Ortese’s and Bachmann’s texts express the desire to reach moments of non-alienated human experience at the ocular, spatial, and linguistic level. The thesis explores the texts’ interplay between negative and positive polarities at the above-mentioned levels with the aim of arguing that these authors have reflected on the prominence of a negative polarity in the psychic experience of late modernity. The compulsion to work on the negative psychic base and to occasionally, and ephemerally, express positive projections must be related to Ortese’s and Bachmann’s shared critique of late modern Western civilization through a principle of causality. 

        My research adopts a transcultural and translingual approach, paying particular attention to the primary texts’ diagnostic, criminological, and religious vocabularies, and to their intertextual compositional methods. It presents a philosophical and social framework (new critical theory) and elements of psychoanalysis and affect theory. It will shed new light on Ortese’s and Bachmann’s shared insistence on an embodied response to post-1945 Western environments and their anti-subjective pressures, on the denigration of vision and civic spaces, and on the expression of a desire to transfigure and escape late modern human reality.

Educational and experiential background

I grew up in Messina (Italy), where I graduated from a non-selective state liceo linguistico (English, French, and German for five years, Latin for two), and obtained a BA in German, English and Anglo-American, and Russian. During my undergraduate studies, I studied German and English syntax and semantics and German literature at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (Germany) as part of the Erasmus+ programme, and I later obtained an MA in German Studies at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. 

        I was an intern and a collaborator at the German Centre for Venetian Studies and participated in projects of the German-Italian Centre for European Dialogue at Villa Vigoni on Lake Como (Vigoni Giovani 2021; Doctoral Colloquium 2022). For a brief period, I did research in Romance Studies at the Karl Franzens University of Graz (Austria) and taught at a secondary school in Milan (I.I.S. Vilfredo Federico Pareto), before starting my doctoral thesis project in German and Italian at the University of Oxford. The Michael Pragnell Scholarship in Modern Languages (2022–25) of St John’s College, Oxford, supports my project.

        I am fluent in Italian (native speaker), English (Cambridge C2 Proficiency – 2019), German (Goethe-Zertifikat-C2 – 2020), and French (DALF C1 – 2020).

Research interests
  • Kulturkritik and new critical theory.
  • Alienation.
  • Psychoanalysis and affect theory.
  • Utopianism, eudaimonia (well-being).
  • Phenomenology, relationalism, and ethics.
  • Metaphorical approaches to the body, landscape, and language.
  • (Post-)Messianism, symbologies of the “Fall,” and mysticism.
  • Mythopoeic thought and colonial imagery.
  • Temporal traumas (love, illness, death, etc.), grief and mourning, and melancholic style. 
  • Displacement, walking, breathing and writing as narrative devices. 
  • German-Austrian-Italian cultural relations.
  • The life and works of Anna Maria Ortese (1914–98).
  • The life and works of Ingeborg Bachmann (1926–73).
  • Comparative literature (corpora in the original languages) via an “idea-historical” approach.

Other areas of (future) interest include translation from German to Italian and didactics of modern Germanophone culture (late 18th century to the present). 

Research outputs
Articles

“Anna Maria Ortese and Ingeborg Bachmann: Visual anxiety between Naples and Vienna,” in Austrian Studies, 32 (forthcoming 2024).

“A different spirituality: On Lazzaro’s symbolic potency in Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro,” in Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies, 11:1 (2023), 145–161.

“‘Ich bin nicht erwünscht hier’: Heiner Müllers Medea zwischen Alterität, Totenkult und Atomkatastrophe,” in Links: Rivista di letteratura e cultura tedesca. Zeitschrift für deutsche Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft, 22 (2022), 75–84.

“‘Ha accise i picciriddi’: Emma Dante’s Sicilian Medea,” in K. Revue trans-européenne de philosophie et arts, 8:1 (2022), 317–326.

Book reviews

“Insa Braun, Reden über Lyrik: Autorkonstitution in Frankfurter Poetikvorlesungen von 1959 bis 1989. de Gruyter, Berlin 2024, 288 S.,” in Zeitschrift für Germanistik, 35:1 (forthcoming 2025).

“Parham, J. (ed.) (2021), The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Anthropocene,” in Journal of Ecohumanism, 2:2 (2023), 205–207.

Conference reports

Ingeborg Bachmann Konstellationen in Rom: Internationale Tagung aus Anlass des 50. Todestages, Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici, Rom in Kooperation mit dem Forum Austriaco di Cultura Roma und dem Goethe-Institut Rom. Rom, 17.-20. Oktober 2023,” in Links: Rivista di letteratura e cultura tedesca. Zeitschrift für deutsche Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft, 23 (2023), 111–113.

Edited volumes

Krise, Jugend und die Kritik am Erwachsensein/Crisi, giovinezza e critica all’adultità, eds. Florian H. Geidner and Roberto Interdonato (Loveno di Menaggio: Villa Vigoni Editore | Verlag, 2024) [funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of the Federal Republic of Germany].

Other publications

“La sola ragione non spiega la vita,” review of Hermann Broch, L’incognita, trans. Luca Crescenzi (Carbonio: Milan, 2022), in L’Indice dei Libri del Mese, 39:3 (2022), p. 22.

“sotto gli alberi di lacrime il mattino,” Italian non-commercial translation of Friederike Mayröcker, “unter Bäumen Tränenmorgen” (13 August 2003), in Gesammelte Gedichte. 1939-2003, ed. Marcel Beyer (Frankfurt o.M.: Suhrkamp, 2019), p. 779, in Poetarum Silva, 2 July 2020. URL: https://poetarumsilva.com/2020/07/02/friederike-mayrocker/ (CC license).

Conference papers (selection):

“From West Berlin to the North African Desert: Mobility and ambiguous attachments to the desert space in Ingeborg Bachmann’s ‘Wüstenbuch’.” Paper presented at a workshop organised by Oxford University Collective for Pastoralist and Nomadic People. 30 April 2024, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford.

“Defective Vision: On Anna Maria Ortese’s “Un paio di occhiali” and Ingeborg Bachmann’s ‘Ihr glücklichen Augen’.” Paper presented at Reading Bachmann Now: A conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the writer’s death. 17–19 May 2023, University of London Senate House, and the Austrian Cultural Forum.

“Looking for ‘lightness’. Enslavement, Martyrdom, and the Bach Motif in Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro.” Paper presented at Blood on the Leaves / And Blood at the Roots’: Reconsidering Forms of Enslavement and Subjection across Disciplines. 19–20 June 2021, University of Warwick.

“Das Malvasia-Motiv zwischen Italien und England: Intertextuelle Beziehungen zwischen Matteo Bandellos Novelle und Shakespeares Richard III.” Paper presented at Malvasier – Weinkultur in der Geschichte Venedigs und Europas. Von der Wirtschaft bis zur Medizin, von der Politik bis zur Kunst und Literatur. 29 August – 6 September 2021, German Centre for Venetian Studies (Venice).

Teaching and outreach

German grammar (“Grammatikübung B”) teaching was offered in the sub-faculty of German at the University of Oxford in the academic year 2022/23.

        I am currently the Modern Co-ordinator of the Italian Research Seminar series organized by the sub-faculty of Italian for the academic year 2023/24. In this role, I have helped organize seminars on Alice Rohrwacher’s cinema, the history of Italian colonialism, the influence of American culture on Italian culture (1861–1943), natality in Gaspara Stampa and Goliarda Sapienza (supported by the Isaiah Berlin Fund), and reproductive (in)justice in contemporary Italy.

        I am the organizer of a Forum for Austrian Cinema at St John’s College in Trinity Term 2024 (screenings of films by W. Schroeter, M. Haneke, and U. Seidl); a video-podcast on Schroeter’s, Haneke’s, and Seidl’s phenomenological approaches to love in the screened films is scheduled for a summer 2024 release. 

        I would be most delighted to exchange ideas on themes related to my research interests and it is always possible to contact me via e-mail or by post at my institutional address.

Last edit: 11 June 2024, 11:11 (BST).