Francesca Calamita

Assistant Professor of Italian, General Faculty & Director of UVa in Italy (CET-Siena and ISI-Florence)
Office Hours: 
TuTH 5:00-6:00PM

Research Summary

Dr Francesca Calamita’s interdisciplinary research, transnational and anchored in feminist theory, bridges Italian women’s writing, cultural studies and gender studies. More specifically, she investigates how women’s relationship with food and body is portrayed in fiction, as well as pop culture, advertisements, video performances and films. Her research interests also include the intersections between gender and medical humanities as well as migrant literature.

She is the author of the monograph Linguaggi dell’esperienza femminile: disturbi alimentari, donne e scrittura dall’Unità al Miracolo Economico (2015), featured in the prestigious literary journal Nuovi Argomenti and at the 2016 edition of Feminism: Fiera dell'editoria delle donne, a number of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She is co-editor of a volume on anorexia and bulimia in French, German and Italian literature, funded by a Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts and Sciences grant and she is working on a new edited collection (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic) on gender, women and food. Before joining UVa, Dr Calamita was a Visiting Fellow at the University of London’s Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing where she completed her post-doctoral research project and where she currently continues to serve as an associate member.Previously Dr Calamita was a Teaching Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand where she earned her PhD in 2013.

In Spring 2018 At UVa Dr Calamita organised the symposium "Through Their Gazes: Screening Women and Feminism" with Shilpa Davé (Media Studies) and a series of collateral events supported by a UVa Inclusion and Diversity grant. She is a member of the interdisciplinary research network “Hungry for Words”, based at the University of Nottingham and funded by AHRC, where she was an invited speaker at the inaugural workshop of the collective. Dr Calamita is also interested in the intersections between Italian language and gender and has published in this area; she is currently working on a textbook project to teach elementary Italian with inclusion, diversity and gender equality. She serves as the Institute of World Language Reading & Research Group's coordinator for the Language Forward Initiative (supported by a Jefferson Trust award) and chair of the Speaker Series committee.In the Italian Program, she serves as co-director of the language program (1000-2000 level) and the placement and transfer of credits coordinator. Dr Calamita is the director of UVa in Italy (CET-Siena and ISI-Florence) and oversees the academic development of the Programs .

Her teaching interests complement her research in gender systems, global modes of exchange, and foodways. At Victoria University of Wellington Dr Calamita taught and coordinated a number of courses in Italian and European Studies. At UVa, she collaborates with the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality and offers classes on gender issues from a transnational perspective. She is also the project leader for Dolcissimo: Speak the Sweet Life, a second language acquisition and food studies activity funded by the Institute of World Languages, and for A Gendered Wor(l)d: Grammar, Sexism and Cultural Changes in Italian Language and Society, a multimodal learning experience which allows students to engage critically with Italian media and to become sensitive to the gendered politics of language. Dr Calamita also regularly teaches COLA classes and enjoys helping her advisees with their academic careers.


Ph.D., Victoria University of Wellington (2013)

M.A., Università degli Studi di Bergamo (2008)

B.A., Università degli Studi di Perugia (2005)

Research Interests

  • Italian women’s writing
  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Representations of food and the body in diverse genres -- fiction, pop culture, advertisements, and film
  • Medical Humanities
  • Literatures of Migration
  • Italian Language and Gender
  • Italian Language taught with Diversity and Inclusion


  • ITTR/WGS3559 “TV and Web Series in Italy and the Globe: Gender, Sex and Society”
  • ITTR/WGS3559 “My Body, My Choice: Women’s Rights in Modern Italy”
  • ITTR/WGS3559 "Italy on Screen: Sex, Gender and Racial Identities in the Glocal Context"
  • ITTR/WGS3680 “Eve’s Sinful Bite:Foodscapes in Women’s Writing, Culture & Society”
  • COLA1500 "Twenty-first Century Women"
  • ITAL3559 "Italian Women's Writing: Stories of Empowerment from Matilde Serao to Elena Ferrante"
  • ITAL3020 "Advanced Italian II: Achieve Fluency through Experiential Learning"
  • ITAL2030 "Italian for Intercultural Mediators"
  • ITAL2020 “Intermediate Italian Language II”
  • ITAL2010 “Intermediate Italian Language I”
  • ITAL1020 “Elementary Italian II”
  • ITAL1010 “Elementary Italian I”
  • ITAL4993 “Independent Study” – Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet (Biyuan Gu)
  • ITAL4993 "Independent Study" – Michela Marzano's Novels (Avery Morrison)
  • ITAL4993 "Independent Study" – From Page to Screen: Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend (Christine McDermott)
  • ITAL 4989 Distinguished Major Thesis Director – Postcolonial Women's Writing: Igiaba Scego (Mary Collins)

Selected Publications


Linguaggi dell’esperienza femminile: disturbi alimentari, donne e scrittura dall’Unità al Miracolo Economico (Padua: Il Poligrafo, October 2015)

Edited volumes

Starvation, Food Obsession and Identity: Eating Disorders in Contemporary Women’s Writing, co-edited with Petra Bagley and Kathryn Robson (“Studies in Contemporary Women’s Writing”, Peter Lang: Oxford, 2017)

Eve’s Sinful Bite: Food and Women in Italian Literature, Culture and Society, co-edited with Claudia Bernardi and Daniele DeFeo (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic)

Edited Journal

With Mabel Richart Marset (Valencia), special issue of MonTI (12), Revista académica de Traducción e Interpretación de las universidades públicas valencianas (forthcoming)


With Chiara De Santi (Farmingdale), DiversITALY: first and second semeter Italian with inclusive language and gender equality (under contract with Kendall Hunt)

Selected Articles

“‘Always Look Beautiful’, ‘Never Gain Weight’: Questioning Contemporary Ideals of Femininity in Francesca Lolli, Julia Wertheimer and Rahman Hak-Hagir ’s Video Performance How It Has To Be (2014)" (in preparation)

With Roberta Trapé (Melbourne) “Expanding Learning Spaces: Virtual Places of Learning in a Transnational Telecollaborative project between the U.S.A. and Italy” (forthcominh in Italian Studies in Southern Africa/Studi d'italianistica dell'Africa australe)

‘“Fainting is one way of disappearing. Anorexia is another’: Disorderly Eating in Louise De Salvo’s Vertigo” (forthcoming in Romance Studies)

“Sexism and Gender Stereotypes in Italian Language Courses: No, Grazie!”, TILCA: Teaching Italian Language and Culture Annual, special issue edited by Louise Hipwell and Donatella Melucci. (2018), pp. 126-138.

“Tastefulness: Fashion, Food, Lust and Domesticity in Matilde Serao’s ‘La virtù di Checchina [Checchina’s Virtue]’ (1884),” altrelettere, DOI: 10.5903/al_uzh-28 February 2015.

“Voracious Dolls and Competent Chefs: Negotiating Femininity and Masculinity in Italian Food Advertisements of the 1990s-2010s,” Gender/Sexuality/Italy, 1, May 2014, pp. 1-13.

“Storytelling and Female Eating Habits at the turn of the Twentieth Century: Italo Calvino’s ‘Zio Lupo’ and Neera’s ‘Uno Scandalo,’” AUMLA, Special Issue, Refereed Proceedings of the 2011 AULLA Conference: Storytelling in Literature, Language and Culture, April 2012, pp. 67-75.

“Unspoken Feelings: Comparing the Feminism of Sibilla Aleramo’s Una donna and the Social Battle of the Present-day Anorexic,”Skepsi, vol. 4, 1 (2011), pp. 1-11.

Selected Book Chapters

“Beyond Size and Weight: Gianna Schelotto’s “La ragazza che mangiava la luna [The Girl who Ate the Moon]” (1992) (in preparation for the edited volume I am coediting with Claudia Bernardi and Daniele De Feo on women, gender and food)

“Identica a loro?”: (In)digesting Food and Identity in Igiaba Scego’s Short Story “Salsicce” (2003) (in preparation for the volume Complications of Eating: Investigating (In)digestion in Literature and Film under contract with Routledge)

“On the Verge of Emotional Hunger: Anorexia, Bulimia and Interpersonal Relationships in Contemporary Italian Women’s Writing”, eds. Petra Bagley, Francesca Calamita and Kathryn Robson, Starvation, Food Obsession and Identity: Eating Disorders in Contemporary Women’s Writing (“Studies in Contemporary Women’s Writing”, Peter Lang: Oxford, 2017), pp. 67-89.

“Resistance through Starvation: Refusal of Food, Empowerment and Eating Disorders in Natalia Ginzburg’s short story ‘La madre’ (1948)”, Women in the Public Sphere in Modern and Contemporary Italy, eds. Marina Spunta, Simona Storchi and Maria Morelli (Troubador: Leicester, 2017), pp. 41-52.

Bird-Like-Eating Attitudes, Fat-Shaming and Ideal Body Shape in Italian Women’s Writing of the 1930s-1940s,” Bridges Across Cultures Conference Proceedings in collaboration with Voces del Caribe, eds Angela Tumini, Tim Wagner and Amparo Alpanes, pp. 60-67. (September 2016)

“Discussing Women’s Social Role through Paradoxical Behaviours: Starvation and Self-empowerment in Neera’s Teresa (1886) and L’indomani (1889),”Gendering Commitment: Re-thinking Social and Ethical Engagement in Modern Italian Culture, ed. Alex Standen (Cambridge Scholar: Newcastle, 2015), pp. 9-26.

Digital Work

Natalia Ginzburg e la rappresentazione dell’esperienza femminile”, Nuovi Argomenti, June 2016.

"Michela Marzano. Biography, Bibliography and Criticism", Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women's Writing, May 2017.

Selected Recent Presentations

“(In)digesting the Self: Migration, Patriarchy, Post-colonialism and Food in Igiaba Scego’s “Salsicce” (2003)”, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, July 9 (invited)

“The Handmaid’s Tale from the USA to Italy: When Women’s Rights Debate Goes on Screen”, American University of Rome, 13-16 June.

“Self-empowering or Self-destructive Behaviours?: Bulimia, Sex and Narcissism in Gianna Schelotto’s “La ragazza che mangiava la luna [The Girl Who Ate the Moon]” (1992)”, Italian Reserch Network, University of Cambridge, UK, May 24 (invited)

"Louise DeSalvo’s Vertigo (1996): Anorexia, Corporeal Self-harm and Empowerment”, AAIS 2018, Sant’Anna Institute, Sorrento, 14-17 June 2018

“Sexism and Gender Stereotypes in Italian Language Courses: No, Grazie!”, Italian Language and Culture Conference, Georgetown University, 21 October 2017

“Experiential Learning in Second Language Acquisition through Food Studies”, IWL Roundtables Series, UVa, 29 September 2017 (with Rachel Geer and Liz Hall)

"My Body, My Choice?”: Present-day Beauty Standards and the Backlash of Patriarchy in Francesca Lolli’s Video Performances”, ACLA, University of Utrech, 6-9 July 2017

Selected Grants & Awards

Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts and Sciences, UVa. AHSS Research Grant (with Giulio Celotto and Giulia Paoletti) (2020)

UVa's Center for Teaching Excellence, Thrive Grant (2019)

College of Arts and Science, UVa. LTi Grant (2018)

Institute of World Languages, UVa and Jefferson Trust, Language Forward Initiative (grant team member, 2018)

College of Arts and Science, UVa. Diversity and Inclusion Grant (with Shilpa Davé) (2018)

Institute of World Languages, UVa, Course Enhancement and Developement Grant ( 2019 and 2017)

Institute of World Languages, UVa, Language Program Grant (2019, 2018,2017, 2016, 2015)

Institute of World Languages, UVa, Travel Grant (2019,2018,2017,2016)

College of Arts and Sciences, UVa, Selected for the “Faculty Seminar on the Teaching of Writing” (2016)

College of Arts & Sciences, Learning & Design Technology, UVa Development stipend (2016)

AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK) and the University Nottingham, Travel and Research Grant (2016 and 2017)

Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts and Sciences, UVa, AHSS Research Grant (2015)

Visiting Fellowship, Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing, University of London (2013-2014)

Teaching Fellowship, Victoria University of Wellington (2013)

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