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Simona Di Martino

Simona Di Martino is a current PhD student in Italian Studies at the University of Warwick, funded by SMLC Doctoral Fellowship, under the supervision of Dr Fabio Camilletti.

PhD Thesis

Archaeology of the Italian Gothic. Sepulchral Literature in Italy, 1766-1827

In my project I investigate the rise and the evolution of the sepulchral theme in Italian literature across a roughly 50-year span, between the last quarter of the eighteenth century (starting in 1766, with the completion of Alfonso Varano’s Visioni sacre e morali) and the first quarter of the nineteenth (symbolically ending with the year 1827, when Alessandro Manzoni’s I promessi sposi appeared and the Classicist/Romantic quarrel was declining). This periodization will allow me to bridge the gap between the so-called pre-Romantic age and the works of authors such as Ugo Foscolo, Alessandro Manzoni, and Giacomo Leopardi, the study of whom traditionally belongs, respectively, to the separate fields of Eighteenth-century Studies and Romantic/Nineteenth-century Studies.

My final aim is therefore to reconstruct a sepulchral literary strain, at the dawn of Italy’s literary modernity, which supplies later nineteenth-century popular literature with a set of motifs that contribute to the creation of a ‘Gothic’ atmosphere, beyond any strict division into compartments of genre. As Fred Botting argues, the ‘Gothic’ is not strictly a genre, but rather a mode underlying different literary experiences of the modern and contemporary age (from the 1760s onwards), which can be recognized by a combination of coexisting elements: excess, transgression, and self-awareness of their own textual component. For this reason, my dissertation represents a contribution towards an ‘archaeology’ of the Italian Gothic, meaning by this term a historical and thematic reconstruction of the ways Italian culture incorporates and/or autonomously re-elaborates the ‘writing of excess’ informing Western literature at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Research interests
Pre-romantic and romantic poetry;
Ekphrasis and art history in literature;
Danse Macabre;
Gothic literature;
Popular literature and folklore;
Mystic literature, visions;
Dante's reception;
Pirandello’s Short stories for a year – domesticity and space in literature;
Carlo Levi’s Christ stopped at Eboli in its intermedial dimension.

Academic and non-academic roles

PhD representative for Italian Studies, Student Staff Liaison Committee, School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Editor of the section Modern and Contemporary Literature - SIS Postgraduate Journal

IT101 Italian for Beginners - oral class (Term 1/2/3, 2018/2019)
IT115 The History of Modern Italy - reading group (Term 1/2, 2018/2019)
IT212 Italian for Historians - oral class (Term 1/2/3, 2018/2019)
IT317 Introducing Dante's Hell - reading group (Term 1, 2019)
IT301 Modern Italian Language III (Term 1/2/3, 2019/2020)
Online conversation classes for year abroad students (Term 3 2020)

Conferences and papers

SIS Themed Conference: Visions of Italy, online conference organised by the University of Kent, 10th-11th September 2020 – paper entitled: “Messina and the Plague. The Descent to Hell in Varano’s Visioni sacre e morali”.

In Extremis: the Limits of Life, Death and Consciousness in the Long Nineteenth Century, University College Dublin, 10-11 January 2020 - paper entitled: 'Late Eighteenth-Century Sepulchral Literature: An Archaeology of the Italian Gothic'.

XXIII Congresso Nazionale Associazione degli Italianisti (ADI), "Letteratura e scienze", Pisa 12-14 September 2019 - paper entitled '"Lo spettro, che parve arte maga". Il fenomeno della Fata Morgana e l'aurora boreale nelle Visioni di Alfonso Varano'.

SMLC Postgraduate Symposium "Intermediality", University of Warwick, 24th May 2019 - paper entitled: 'From sepulchral poetry to the Gothic popular novel: fashion and obsession in the long nineteenth century Italy'.

Constructions of Love and the Emotion of Intimacy, 1750-1850 (HRC one-day interdisciplinary conference), University of Warwick, 9th February 2019 - paper entitled: ‘The polite intimacy in Italian cultural salons: the love correspondence between Ugo Foscolo and Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi as a case study’.
Body Narratives (SIS Postgraduate colloquium), University of Saint Andrews, 16th November 2018 – presentation of my research project.


Andrea Penso, Un libero di Pindo abitator. Stile e linguaggio poetico del giovane Vincenzo Monti, Roma, Aracne, 2018, pp. 314. Review in "La Rassegna della Letteratura Italiana", gennaio-giugno 2020, serie IX, N. 1, Firenze, Le Lettere, pp. 230-231.

“«Lo spettro, che parve arte maga». Il fenomeno della fata Morgana e l’aurora boreale nelle Visioni di Alfonso Varano”, in Atti del XXIII Congresso Nazionale Associazione degli Italianisti (ADI), "Letteratura e scienze", Pisa 12-14 settembre 2019, Pisa, ETS. (Forthcoming)

Workshops and Events

School of Modern Languages and Cultures Teacher Day, 20th September 2019, Radcliffe Building, University of Warwick (facilitator Italian session)

Accademia della Crusca, Le settimane estive della Crusca. Summer School for Teachers of Italian Language to Foreign Students. Villa Medicea di Castello, Firenze. 1st-5th July 2019

I was selected and awarded a grant to be part of the HRC Workshop on 'Passion'; (2018-2019)

Scholarships and awards

HRF Travel Grant (2019/2020)

WATE nomination (2020)

HRC Doctoral Fellowship Competition 2020 for organising one-day interdisciplinary conference in Spring 2021

RD grant + SMLC funding for organising a PG conference (2019/2020)

HRC Workshop on 'Passion' grant (2018-2019)

HRF Travel Grant (2018)

SMLC Doctoral Fellowship (2018-2021)

Erasmus scholarship (University of Warwick 2017; University of Exeter 2013/14)

‘Wanted the Best’ Grant (awarded by Sapienza Università di Roma, 2015)

SIS - The Society for Italian Studies

ADI - Associazione degli Italianisti

AIPI - Associazione Internazionale Professori di Italiano

MA Modern Philology, Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’
BA Literary Studies, Università degli Studi di Urbino ‘Carlo Bo’


personal picture

Simona Di Martino