Professor Luciano Parisi
Associate Professor of Italian literature
I studied at the universities of Genoa (laurea in Italian literature) and Bologna (laurea in music studies) and at Boston College (PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures). Before moving to Exeter I taught at Boston University, Oxford Brookes, Royal Holloway University of London, and Trinity College Dublin.
My research has four main strands: literary expressions of spirituality (Muratori, Manzoni, Borgese), the development of liberal ideas in Italy (Manzoni, Nievo), the epic component of contemporary Italian novels (Cutrufelli, Ferrante, Pennacchi), and narratives of child sexual abuse (Deledda, Drigo, Ferrante, Moravia, Maraini). My latest book (Giovani e abuso sessuale nella letteratura italiana, 1902-2018) was published at the beginning of 2021.
I favour a hermeneutic approach (Paul Ricœur, Hans-Georg Gadamer) for literary courses and a communicative approach (Sandra Savignon) for language classes. Dialogue with students is essential in both cases and it is based on the assumption that no one thinks very much where all think alike.
Walking in the mountains is my preferred hobby. I reached the major peaks in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire in the 1990s, completed the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2008, and crossed the Ligurian Apennines (Ottone-Barbagelata, Rapallo-Rivergaro, Arenzano-Rossiglione) several times in the past few years.
I am an expert in Italian literature from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. My first book, Borgese (2000) analyzes the work written by the novelist, literary scholar, travel writer and anti-Fascist political author Giuseppe Antonio Borgese (1882-1952), and shows how interconnected the various aspects of his literary prodution are.
My second and third books are devoted to the poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1872). Manzoni e Bossuet (2003) analyzes the ways in which Bossuet and other Catholic authors of seventeenth-century France inspired Manzoni. It is the main reference work on the influence of French Catholicism on Manzoni and a significant case study on the relationship between cultural tradition and individual creativity.
Come abbiamo letto Manzoni (2008) studies the ways in which Manzoni’s work has been interpreted in the twentieth century. It highlights the connections between the questions more often asked about Manzoni’s work and the major concerns that have captured the attention of Italians in different periods of that century.
In Uno specchio infranto. Adolescenti e abuso sessuale nell’opera di Alberto Moravia (2013) I suggest that an unacknowledged story dominates the copious and still widely read literary production by Alberto Moravia (1907-1990). That story hints at the disastrous psychological effects of sexual abuse on children and adolescents.
The Italian authors who have written fiction or memoirs about child sexual abuse in the past 120 years are many more than one would expect. The most memorable novels or short stories by some of these authors, from Paola Drigo and Ercole Patti to Alberto Moravia and Dacia Maraini, are those dealing with victimized children. My latest authored book -- Giovani e abuso sessuale nella letteratura italiana, 1902-2018 (2021) -- studies their texts, the common threads running through them, the different narratives used in different periods of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the periods of transition (the most interesting ones) when a narrative is almost suddenly replaced by another (in Drigo’s Maria Zef, for example, or in Comencini’s Don’t Tell). A close reading of these texts is supported by legal, psychological and welfare-related information that enables readers to approach the texts studied. The last chapter begins an analysis on the Italian public sphere, where topics of such a relevance are collectively discussed. Many thanks to Franca Pezzoni and Enrico Vettore for their thoughtful reviews of this book in Diacritica and in Romanische Forschungen .
My next major research project will be devoted to the epic component of contemporary Italian novels.
Schedario manzoniano internazionale, Catholic University in Milan
- PhD, Representing Adolescents in Contemporary Italian Fiction, Rossano Astremo (2018-2021)
- MRes, The Figure of the Nun in the Fiction by Anna Banti, Colette Yver and Kate O'Brien, Charlotte Booth (2012)
- PhD, Nineteenth-Century Italian Explorers in Africa, Cristina Centonze-Paronzini (part-time, 2004-2010)
- PhD, Dino Buzzati and English Literature, Valentina Polcini (2006-2009)
Quande in te belle mattinn-e
limpide de primmaveja
che lungo e spiaggie marinn-e
pâ unna farfalla ogni veja;
e-o sô o l’inonda de luxe
l’anima o mâ e-e campagne
e pân sospeise in te l’aia
insemme a-e nuvie e montagne;
l’antigo dubio o me torna;
saiâ proprio veo che un giorno
s’asmortiâ tutto pe mi?
Figgêu, che pe-i coste di monti
Ti bèivi a-e fresche vivagne,
appenn-a fiorisce e campagne,
ciàmmime un po unna mattin.
Chissà che da qualche rianello,
da qualche ramma de pin
no te risponde un pittin.
External impact and engagement
Contribution to discipline
I am a member of the Scientific Committee of the Centro Nazionale di Studi Manzoniani in Milan (from 2019).and was a member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK (2010-2017).
Recent conference papers and presentations
- 2023, November 3rd and 7th, Ufficio Scolastico Regionale della regione Veneto, Mestre, Online workshop, Il tema della Provvidenza nei Promessi sposi.
- 2022, November 5th, Centro Studi Pier Paolo Pasolini a Casarsa della Deliza, Conference Pasolini 100: ieri, oggi e domani, ‘Pasolini, il futuro, il corvo e la luna’.
- 2022, May 30th, University of Bologna, Conference of the American Association for Italian Studies, ‘‘Epic storytelling as a form of exploitation: Domenico Starnone’s Via Gemito’
- 2021, October 8th-9th, University of Cambridge, ConferenceTwice-Told Stories in Contemporary Italian Literature, 'Ripetizione ed aggiornamento nelle storie tramandate in famiglia (2000-2020)'
- 2021, July 14th-16th, Catholic University in Milan, Scuola Estiva Manzoniana, 'La fede nella Provvidenza come esperienza quotidiana ne I promessi sposi'
- 2020, September 10th and 11th, University of Canterbury, Conference Visions of Italy, 'Visual culture and modernism in Alberto Moravia’s Gli indifferenti'
- 2019, June 7th and 8th, Durham, University of Durham, Conference Elena Ferrante in a Global Context, 'La ricezione dell’Amica geniale in un’università del Devon'
- 2018, November 15th and 16th, Paris, Université Paris-Sorbonne, Conference I promessi sposi travestiti, 'Tre tipi di parodia e la Provvidenza'