Tel: +44 (0) 2476 151109
Email: jo dot lee at warwick dot ac dot uk
Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL
Advice and Feedback Hours (term time only):
Tuesday 2-3 in H416
Wednesday 10-11 by appointment on MS Teams
I studied English language and Italian at Cardiff University (1995-1999) followed by a three year period teaching English in Parma (1999-2002). I then returned to Cardiff to study for an MA in Literature in European Cultures (2002-2003) before completing a PhD at the University of Bristol (2003-2007). I have taught at Cardiff University and Bristol University before joining the Italian department at Warwick in 2008.
My research interests include:
• Travel writing
• Writings on Italian emigration and contemporary immigration
• Representations of Italy’s colonial past
• Post-war Italian Women’s Writing
My previous research examined how the implications of travel, migration and mobility have been represented in the work of Italian women writers such as Erminia Dell’Oro, Laura Pariani, Bamboo Hirst and Sandra Petrignani. It explored issues such as the memory of Italy’s colonial past, the psychological impact of displacement, the notion of home, representing the other, and the performance of cultural identities. My interest in travel writing led to a project on the representation of contemporary urban spaces in Italian domestic travel writing. It explored the distinctive sense of local identity that emerges from this body of writing and considered how this might intersect with wider constructions of belonging. In particular, it highlighted the tension between the nostalgic quest for an authentic sense of place, which is a common trope in travel writing, and the need to incorporate a more inclusive way of belonging to urban spaces which accommodates difference and recognises the effects of global economic forces and postcolonial migratory flows.
My current research project centres on the relationship between travel writing and politics in Italian accounts of travel to the Soviet Union and the Far East during the Cold War. It views travel writing as a lens through which idealised constructions of communism proposed by Italian political parties of the left as well as the more negative images propagated by Christian Democrat party were held up to closer scrutiny. It argues that the views expressed in the travelogues of the immediate post-war period emerge from the writers’ personal experiences of war and resistance and a desire to position themselves as anti-fascist intellectuals. It also shows that despite editorial constraints and cultural expectations for politically engaged literature, writers were able to find a space within their accounts of travel to articulate their own relationship with the Italian Communist Party and position themselves in relation to the polarising ideologies of the Cold War.
- Deputy Head, School of Modern Languages and Cultures
- Senior Tutor in Italian Studies
- Book Review: Katharine Mitchell, Italian Women Writers: Gender and Everyday Life in Fiction and Journalism 1870–1910, Gender and History, Vol 28, No. 1 (2016), 235–236.
- ‘Political utopia or Potemkin village? Italian travellers to the Soviet Union in the early Cold War’, Modern Italy, Vol. 20, No. 4 (2015), 379-393.
- 'Alternative Urban Journeys: Italian Travel Writing and the Contromano Series', Studies in Travel Writing, Vol. 16, No 2 (2012), 203-214.
- ‘Revisting Italy’s Colonial Past: Journeys through Memory in Erminia Dell’Oro’s Asmara addio and La Gola del Diavolo’, The Italianist, Vol. 29, No. 3 (2009), 448-463.
‘The Writings of Bamboo Hirst: Italy, China and the Performance of Cultural Identity’, Italian Studies, Vol. 63, No. 1 (2008), 105-118.
- Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Fellow of Warwick International Higher Education Academy
- Member of the Society for Italian Studies
- BA; MA (Cardiff)
- PhD (Bristol)