Department Chair, World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Professor, Italian Studies
Ph.D., Harvard University
Fields: Modern Italian Literature, Giovanni Verga, Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
As a child, I longed to be able to understand the lively conversation around my grandparents’ dinner table. They had immigrated to the United States (Boston) with their children in the 1950s, when my father was 14 years old. While I did not speak much Italian growing up, I heard the language regularly (as well as my family’s abruzzese dialect) and began to study Italian in middle school. When the time came to select a college, one of my main criteria was the opportunity to study abroad in Italy, where I could learn to speak fluent Italian. Smith College helped me to realize my dream, enabling me to live and study in Florence during my “junior” year. My love affair with Firenze continues to this day.
My academic program at Smith was initially focused on English literature, to which I later added an Italian major. My interest in literature began in high school, fostered by my mother’s family: my grandmother had grown up in Ireland memorizing English and Irish poetry and spoke fluent Irish (Gaelic). Foreign language was important to my Irish relatives, as well: my aunt excelled in Latin, and one of my uncles was a scholar of Slavic Languages.
After receiving my B.A. at Smith College, I enrolled directly in a PhD program at Harvard University. I was unsure, at first, whether to apply to programs in English literature or Italian literature, but I knew that Italian and Italy had to be a major part of my professional life. At Harvard, I discovered that my true literary interests were not the medieval and Renaissance authors I had studied at Smith, as much as I revered them; rather, I gravitated toward modern and contemporary prose, women writers, and literary analysis through the lens of gender.
As I was completing my PhD, I had the good fortune of being offered a job at College of the Holy Cross. While I had never expected to work in my home state, it has proven to be quite rewarding to maintain close relationships with my families of origin as I have built my own professional life and family in Worcester. The College has given me the opportunity to share my passion for Italian language, literature, and culture with a wide variety of students, some who share a similar background to mine, and many who do not. Despite the privilege reflected in my education, neither of my parents graduated from college. Through my Italian courses, I have also been able to explore broader issues around race, gender, and sexuality, both in the United States and in Europe. Indeed, in my teaching as well as in my research, one of my goals is to open a meaningful conversation with others that may go beyond the principal area of inquiry.
Selected Grants, Awards, Honors
Faculty Marshal for Holy Cross Commencement (1999, 2005, 2019)
Research and Publication Grant for indexing of Italian Women at War (Fall 2016)
Batchelor (Ford) Summer Fellowship for Italian Women at War book project (Spring 2013)
Hewlett-Mellon Presidential Discretionary Fund Fellowship for Italian faculty workshop on program curriculum (2010-2011)
Recipient of the Arthur J. O'Leary Faculty Recognition Award (2006-2008)
Italian Women at War: Sisters in Arms from the Unification to the Twentieth Century. Madison and Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016. (Editor and contributor)
Figuring Women: A Thematic Study of Giovanni Verga’s Female Characters. Madison and Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004. (Author)
Selected articles, book chapters, short pieces
“Verga’s ‘L’amante di Gramigna’: Outlaws and Disorder in Militarized Post-Unification Italy.” Italy and the Military: Cultural Perspectives from Unification to Contemporary Italy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020. 117-132.
“Giovanni Verga: Vita dei campi [Life in the Fields].” The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 September 2019 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=11301].
“La bambina e il sognatore e il mito dell’infanzia.” Curiosa di mestiere. Saggi su Dacia Maraini. Eds. Manuela Bertone and Barbara Meazzi. Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2017. 215-230.
“Introduction: Italy’s Sisters in Arms.” Italian Women at War: Sisters in Arms from the Unification to the Twentieth Century. Ed. Susan Amatangelo. Madison and Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016. 1-10.
“‘Sono briganta, io, non donna di brigante’: The Female Brigand’s Search for Identity.” Italian Women at War: Sisters in Arms from the Unification to the Twentieth Century. Ed. Susan Amatangelo. Madison and Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016. 49-69.
“Tra illusione e verità nel Gattopardo: la storia di Concetta, l’ultima salina.” Le siciliane: Così sono se vi pare. Ed. Giovanna Summerfield. Novi ligure: Puntocapa Editrice, 2011. 44-63.
“Cavalleria rusticana: El contexto.” Temporada d’Òpera 2010-2011. Amics del Liceu, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona. 109-112.
“‘Chi cerca trova, e chi séguita vince’: Seeking Revenge in Verga’s Cavalleria rusticana and Pirandello’s Liolà.” Vendetta: Essays on Honor and Revenge. Ed. Giovanna Summerfield. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010. 137-155.
“I ricordi sono per sempre.” Non soltanto un baule: Storie di emigranti italiani. Ed. Concetta Cirigliano Perna. Edizioni Farinelli, 2005. 64-9.
“Coming to Her Senses: The Journey of the Mother in La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa.” Italica 79.2 (2002): 240-56.
Selected courses taught
- Elementary Italian 1 & 2
- Intensive Elementary Italian
- Intermediate Italian 1 & 2
- Composition and Conversation
- Survey of Modern Literature
- Sicily through Literature & Film
- 20th-C Italian Novel and World War II
- Italian Women’s Autobiography
- 19th-C Italian Novel
- Italian Women Writers
- 19th-C Italian Novel
- Manzoni’s Betrothed
- Manzoni and the Modern Age
- Gender & Sexuality in Italy