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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.

Prof Charles Burdett, M.A., D.Phil.(Oxon.)

Professor / Director of Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42453
Room number: A37, Elvet Riverside I

Contact Prof Charles Burdett (email at

Research Interests

The principal areas of Charles Burdett’s research are literary culture under Fascism; travel writing; the Italian colonial presence in Libya and East Africa and its legacy; theories of inter-cultural and transnational contact; the representation of Islam and the Islamic world in recent Italian literature and culture. An important part of his work concerns the theoretical frame through which we consider transnational contact and the implications for the disciplinary field of Modern Languages of the study of cultural translation in all its forms.

This research interest lies at the heart of the AHRC beacon project of which he is Principal Investigator, Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures (2014-2017). The project explores a series of critical instances of linguistic and cultural translation with a specific focus on modern Italy and the experiences of mobility that are embedded in its recent history. The project uses the Italian case as a template from which to develop a renewed model for the work of Modern Languages and its applications in the 21st century. The grant has been followed by the project Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Global Challenges (2016-17), which explores multilingualism and multilingual education in the context of Namibia. It has also been followed by TML: Exhibitions for Impact (2017) which brings key outputs of the project to New York, Melbourne and Addis Ababa.
His most recent book, Italy, Islam and the Islamic World: Representations and Reflections from 9/11 to the Arab Uprisings (2016) examines some of the most significant voices that have made themselves heard in defining Italy’s relationship with Islam and the Islamic world in a period of remarkable geopolitical and cultural upheaval. His monograph before that, Journeys through Fascism (2007, pbk 2010), drawing on a wide range of theoretical work on travel and cross-cultural exchange,examined representations by Italian writers of travel within Italy and the expanding empire, to the Middle East, Spain, Germany, Russia and the United States. His earlier work has explored literary culture under Fascism and has attempted to place aspects of the reality of Fascism and the Second World War in transnational perspective.
As a development from his work on travel in the inter-war period, he has published on the significance of Mussolini’s journey to Libya in 1937, on the eschatological elements of Fascist colonial discourse, on the immediate aftermath of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, and on recent representations of the Italian presence in Africa. He is currently working on a monographic study, The Representation of the Italian Empire and its Afterlife: Utopia, Time, and Memory and developing a collaborative project on the temporality of the Islamic presence in modern Italy.

Selected Publications

Authored book

Journal Article

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