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Dott. Gabriele Scalessa

PhD Student
Part-Time Teaching Assistant

Email: G dot Scalessa at warwick dot ac dot uk

Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL


Dott. Gabriele Scalessa is PhD Student and Part-Time Teaching Assistant in the Department of Italian Studies. His research interests include nineteenth and twentieth century Italian narratives and the History of Medicine. He teaches on the Italian Grammar module.

Research interests

Dott. Scalessa's PhD project Between Medicine and Spiritualism: Scientific Subjects in Late Nineteenth-Century Italian Literature, supervised by Dr Jennifer Burns and Dr Fabio Camilletti, aims to examine how scientific, pseudoscientific and spiritualistic issues are intersected in late nineteenth-century Italian literature. It also intends to demonstrate, through a close analysis of several novels and tales, how this literary period bespeaks an expansion and realignment of the scientific borders within Italian culture until the inclusion of occultism and supernatural phenomena.

He is currently focusing on several authors that belong to the literary movements of Scapigliatura (Igino Ugo Tarchetti, Arrigo Boito, Camillo Boito), Verismo (Luigi Capuana, Giovanni Verga, Salvatore Di Giacomo, Matilde Serao), and to a more modernistic literary current (Antonio Fogazzaro, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Luigi Pirandello), drawing a line of inquiry that joins their works according to the re-conceptualisation of the idea of science as formulated in the Italian fin de siècle. Starting from the 1860s, in fact, a widespread interest for both scientific and spiritualistic themes reached Italy through the works of such Positivist scientists as Charles Darwin, Jean-Martin Charcot, Cesare Lombroso, and Enrico Morselli, as well as the works of such authors of the fantastic as E.T.A. Hoffmann and E.A. Poe.

In analysing the intertwinement between science and Italian literature in the nineteenth century, a part of his project also focuses on how several medical theories were assimilated in the narrative from Tarchetti onwards, especially with regard to the representation of the female body and mind. This part of his project documents how such theories (especially those concerning hysteria), which were already a product of a masculinist approach to the “female alterity”, underwent a process of revision and refinement during their assimilation within Italian narrative, as emerged, for instance, from the works of Capuana and D’Annunzio.

Broader research interests include:

  • Nineteenth and twentieth-century Italian literature
  • History of medicine and early psychiatry
  • The representation of female characters in modern and contemporary Italian narrative
  • Psychoanalysis applied to literary texts
  • Nineteenth and twentieth-century dialect poetry in Italy and Neodialettalità
  • Italian gothic cinema of the 60s and 70s


2013-14: IT301 Italian Grammar

2012-13: IT301 Modern Italian Language II: Writing

Selected publications

  • ‘Representations of suicide in Italian narratives from the 1860s to the early twentieth century’, in Voglio morire! Suicide in Italian Literature, Culture, and Society 1789-1919, ed. by Paolo L. Bernardini and Anita Virga (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), pp. 159-176;
  • 'The Female Vampires and the Uncanny Childhood: A Journey across Italian Gothic Cinema', Cinergie: il cinema e le altre arti, 4 (2013), 183-191: 


  • Laurea in Lettere (Roma La Sapienza);
  • Dottorato di Ricerca in Italianistica (Roma La Sapienza).


Undergraduate modules

IT301 Italian Grammar