Dr Martina Piperno
School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
I graduated at Università La Sapienza, in Rome, where I come from. I was then awarded my PhD in Italian studies 2016 by the University of Warwick (UK). I have been a visiting fellow at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Seton Hall University, Queen Mary University of London. My research tackles representations of time (timelines, time travel, time names, continuity and discontinuity of time) in Italian theory and literature, particularly of the 19th and 20th centuries. My first book, “Rebuilding Post-Revolutionary Italy: Leopardi and Vico’s New Science”, is currently in press by the Voltaire Foundation of Oxford.
PROJECT OUTLINE: ‘Italicity’ is a term recently coined to describe delocalized Italian identity (i.e. Italian communities abroad, writers of a different background who write in Italian) as opposed to nation-bound Italian-ness. However, Italian identity has for a long time confronted itself with the phantom of ‘Italics’, that is to say, those peoples who lived in the peninsula before the rise of Rome, which almost completely destroyed them. The term ‘Italic’/’Italicity’, therefore, has a history which I intend to uncover. Due to the mysterious nature of these peoples (they left little or no trace of themselves) and their being isolated in a remote past as well as in a peripheral space (the Italian South and the countryside), the culture of ancient Italians became in time a perfect ‘open’ space to project the obsessions and cultural tensions of modern times. My project will produce the first comprehensive study of the projections and manias originating from the myth of ancient Italians, from the Italian Unification period to date, including the tradition of Italian horror and science fiction that deals with the idea of the uncanny return of Italic peoples in ghostly, uncanny, phantasmic forms. I will devote special attention to how ‘Italic’ identity challenged the traditional line of descent from ancient Rome as a peculiar feature of Italian identity. This forces us to decentralize our viewpoint on Italy, muddling the notions of nationality and ethnicity as fixed in time and space.