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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 Guido Furci, BA (Università degli Studi di Siena), MA (Sorbonne Paris Cité - Geneva), PhD (Paris 3, Sorbonne Nouvelle - Comp. Lit.)

Personal web page

COFUND Junior Research Fellow in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Room number: ER254, Elvet Riverside II

(email at


During my PhD, I have been explored the notion of “indirect witnessing” looking at the under-researched triangular correspondence between the Italian author Primo Levi, the Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld, and the American novelist Philip Roth. In my thesis, I have demonstrated that far from operating as a transparent medium, in historical witnessing, literature provides forms, solutions and strategies that underpin a cognitive enterprise of understanding by testifying.

For my current research project, I am planning to expand this line of inquiry to the experiential and conceptual meaning of voices in the instrumental witnessing work of Primo Levi. Literature as a silent art is nonetheless chiefly concerned with rendering the dynamic emergence of multisensory experiences and interactions of a plurality of voices. In literary witnessing of events such as the Holocaust, this tension between sound and silence, voices and muteness, is even amplified because collective voices reach the magnitude of a multitude, which has been reduced to silence by death. This tension and its possible rendition or overcoming becomes explicit in the work of Levi on several levels. On the one hand, he reflects on the polyphonic potential of literature and refines literary devices for actualising it. On the other hand, he progressively focuses on the obsession with voices that prisoners of the camps develop either during their experience of concentration or in their surviving experience after the end of the war. I am also planning to investigate the density of cultural references that might be beyond the metaphysical component of dialogical voices in Levi. In Jewish culture, episodes of possessions and revelations through the voice are not only frequent but even foundational. Besides the dybbuks (malicious possessing spirits believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person), it is enough to think of Moses’ episode on Mount Sinai, where the divine laws are communicated to the prophet through a vocal epiphany (many Torah commentators speak, in this regard, of “Logophany” or ‘the appearing of a voice’). In the testimonies of those interned in concentration camps the distortion of every moral law experienced in ghettos and camps is often associated, albeit as an opposition, with the prophetic experience. This is an important point that deserves to be explored further due to the many philosophical and theological implications it implies. Even in this respect, Levi seems to offer many insights.

Research Interests

  • Italian Language and Culture (Neorealist Cinema, Postwar Italian Impegno, Primo Levi)
  • French and Francophone Literature (Michel Deguy, Agota Kristof, Édouard Glissant)
  • Comparative Literature and Critical Theory (Narrative and the Self, Life and Experience)
  • Jewish Studies (from the Aesthetics of Absence to Testimonial Literature and Poems-documents)
  • Intermedial and Intercultural Approaches to Film (the Idea of Montage)
  • Intrusive Memory and Auditory Hallucinations

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2018: Advisory Board:

    L'Intermède – site d'actualité culturelle et universitaire (Editorial Board Member since 2010)

  • 2018: Executive Board: IAWIS/AIERTI – International Association of Word & Image Studies (Member of the Advisory Board since Aug. 2014)

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • 2013 (co-edited with Cornillon, C., Djuric, N., Kadari, L. & Leroux, P.) Fin(s) du monde, Pendragon, 254 pp.

Journal Article

Show all publications

International Collaboration

  • Membre associé du CERC (Paris Sorbonne Cité)
  • Chargé de cours au CFDip (Centre de Formation des Doctorant.e.s aux initiatives professionnelles)

Related Links

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Europe: Language, literature & culture:
  • International: Language, literature, culture:
  • The Media:
  • Visual culture:

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Johns Hopkins University - Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (GRLL / JS Program)
  • 2015: Prix « Jeune Chercheur » - Fondation des Treilles (France)
  • 2014: Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (Paris) - Doctoral Studentship
  • 2013: Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft der Universität Wien (Vienna) - Field Research Grant