The transnational study of Italian culture and the ghosts of empire

by Charles Burdett

30 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy, volume 10 (2022)
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Abstract: The article begins by looking at developments within Modern Languages and reflects upon the importance of the move towards the consideration of cultural and social phenomena in transnational perspective. It suggests how the ‘transnational turn’ can be interpreted within the disciplinary field and, in this context, refers to the work of the large project ‘Transnationalizing Modern Languages’ (2014–2018), part of the AHRC’s Translating Cultures research theme. The article looks at how a transnational approach can advance the move to decolonise research and teaching in the subject area and at how it promotes understanding of the proximity of the colonial world. Drawing upon the example of creative writing on the expansionist phase of Italy’s history, the article explores how the ongoing legacies of colonialism can be addressed within an approach that is centred on the traces of past instances of mobility and displacement. It concludes by pointing to the need for the transmedial study of the ghosts of the Italian empire.

Keywords: Transnational, colonialism, transcultural, spectrality, mobility, displacement, identity, border.

British Academy Lecture in Modern Languages, read 7 May 2019.

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