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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies

Staff in the Department of Italian

Go to the MLAC staff pages.

Dr Cecilia Piantanida, BA (Durham), MA (London), DPhil (Oxon)

Assistant Professor (Teaching) in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43441
Room number: A35, Elvet Riverside I

Contact Dr Cecilia Piantanida (email at

My research and teaching focus on the comparative study of modern and contemporary Italian literature and culture. In particular, I explore how representations of the past affect narratives of the present.

My monograph entitled Sappho and Catullus in Twentieth-Century Italian and North American Poetry is under contract with Bloomsbury Academic in their ‘Bloomsbury Studies in Classical Reception’ series. The book studies for the first time the interwoven reception of the archaic Greek poet Sappho and her first Latin translator, Catullus, in literary culture from the 1900s to the present. Going beyond exclusively national perspectives, the study focuses on Italian and North-American poetry as two main hubs of Sappho and Catullus’ modern reception, also linked by a rich mutual intellectual exchange beyond the classical legacy. Such a transnational approach shows that the two ancient poets function as catalysts of major modernist and postmodernist poetics across cultures. The analysis also reveals the key role of classical models in helping to define ideas of origins, sexuality, gender and national identities. I employ translation and reception theories as well as textual analyses, considering several unpublished documents, which I found during archival research. I published some of these findings in my article ‘Pascoli and Sappho: Two Unpublished Manuscripts’ (Filologia italiana, 2013). The essay includes the edition and analysis of over thirty autograph translations and poetic rewritings of Sappho by Pascoli. Recently, I contributed an essay on the European reception of Sappho for the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Sappho, and with a colleague at Oxford I co-edited a volume of essays on Echoing Voices in Italian Literature: Tradition and Translation in the 20th Century (New Castle: Cambridge Scholars, 2018).

I am also interested in the study of metaphors of ‘origins’ from the nineteenth century to the present. On this topic, I am developing a new research project on the uses and refutations of metaphors of origins as roots in Italian autobiographical fiction by national, transnational, and migrant writers.

At Durham I am module convenor of ITAL3171 Writing the Modern Self, ITAL2111 Italian Language 2A and ITAL3021 Italian language 4. I also co-teach ITAL2061 Narratives of Fascist and Post-War Italy. In the past I also co-taught ITAL1091 Introduction to Italian Literary Culture and Theory and ITAL1081 Italy and the Arts.

I hold a DPhil in Comparative Literature from the University of Oxford, where I taught several literature courses and worked as Italian Language Tutor before joining Durham. 


Book review

Chapter in book

  • Forthcoming 'Early Modern and Modern German, Italian, and Spanish Sapphos', in Finglass, Patrick & Kelly, Adrian (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Sappho, Cambridge University Press.
  • Accepted 'Translating Eros: The Representation of Sexuality in Italian Translations of Sappho (2000-2015)', in (ed.), Translation in Antiquity, Translating Antiquity: Methods and Practices.
  • 2018 (co-authored with Franco, Teresa) 'Introduction', in Franco, Teresa & Piantanida, Cecilia (eds.), Echoing Voices in Italian Literature: Tradition and Translation in the 20th Century, Cambridge Scholars, pp. x-xviii

Edited book

Journal Article

Other (Print)

  • 2014 (co-authored with Gardini, Nicola) 'Note al Testo in Catullo, Carmina: il libro delle poesie, trans. by Nicola Gardini'.