Francesca Calamita

Francesca Calamita
Assistant Professor of Italian, General Faculty, Director of UVa in Italy (CET-Siena and ISI-Florence) & College fellow
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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 has just published a new edited collection (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 and taught European Studies and Italian Studies. She is thrilled to join the cohort of College Fellows at UVa in Fall 2021 and to offer an Engagement course on food and gender across countries and cultures.

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.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 and she is currently working on a new interdisciplinary project with Giulio Celotto (Classics) and Giulia Paoletti (Art) on women's voices across several disciplines supported by an AHSS, DDEIs and Clay Endowment grants. 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 (under contract with Kendall Hunt) to teach elementary Italian with inclusion, diversity and gender equality with Chiara De Santi (Farmingdale).

In the Italian Program, she serves as co-director of the language program (1000-2000 level) and the placement and transfer of credits coordinator. She is 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 the language.

Outside her home Department, she collaborates with ISO; Dr Calamita is the director of UVa in Italy (CET-Siena and ISI-Florence) and oversees the academic development of the Programs, serving also as chair of the SCOC committee and co-chair of the ISI Consortium. She is delighted to see students travelling the world, opening their minds, learning new languages and choosing Italy as their destination for study abroad. 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. Dr Calamita is an affiliate faculty of the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality and offers regularly classes on gender issues from a transnational perspective; she also teaches COLA seminars and enjoys helping her advisees with their academic careers. In this spirit, she has recently created a Global Studies J-term course "Global Challenges, Local Responses" with colleagues across various disciplines.


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”
  • ITTR3685/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”
  • ITTR3559 "Global Women's Writing: Stories of Empowerment from Italy and the World" (counts as elective for WGS)
  • GSGS2559 "Global Challenges, Local Responses"
  • EGMT1530 "Food for Global Feminist Thought"
  • COLA1500 "Twenty-first Century Women"
  • 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 (Bloomsbury Academic: London, November 2020)

Edited Special Issue of Journal

With Mabel Richart Marset (Valencia), MonTI (12), “Revista académica de Traducción e Interpretación de las universidades públicas valencianas”, Translation and Media Accessibility: from Theory to Practice [Traducción y Accesibilidad en los medios de comunicación: de la teoría a la práctica] (May 2020)


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

Selected Articles

‘“Fainting is one way of disappearing. Anorexia is another’: Disorderly Eating in Louise De Salvo’s Vertigo”, Journal of Romance Studies,Vol 20,No 2 (Summer 2020), pp. 249–271

With Mabel Richart Marset, “The Great Challenge of Translation and Audiovisual Accessibility in the Media [El gran reto de la traducción y la accesibilidad audiovisual en los medios de comunicación]”, MonTI (12) (May 2020), Translation and Media Accessibility: from Theory to Practice [Traducción y Accesibilidad en los medios de comunicación: de la teoría a la práctica] edited by Richart Marset and Calamita, pp. 7-52.

With Roberta Trapé (Melbourne) “Expanding Learning Spaces: Virtual Places of Learning in a Transnational Telecollaborative project between the U.S.A. and Italy”, Italian Studies in Southern Africa/Studi d'italianistica dell'Africa australe, Vol 32, No 2 (2019), pp. 275-304.

“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) (forthcoming in the volume I am coediting with Claudia Bernardi and Daniele De Feo)

With Robertà Trapè, “Virtual Exchanges and Gender-inclusive Language: An Intercultural Citizenship Project to Foster Equality” Blended Learning and the Global South, edited by Giovanna Carloni, Christopher Fotheringham, Anita Virga, Brian Zuccalà (Edizioni Ca’ Foscari- University of Venice: Venice) forthcoming

“Identica a loro?”: (In)digesting Food and Identity in Igiaba Scego’s Short Story “Salsicce” (2003) eds, Niki Kiviat and Serena J. Rivera, Complications of Eating: Investigating (In)digestion in Literature and Film (Routledge: New York, May 2020), pp. 186-200

“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

Interview on gender equality in Italy with the TV channel TeleRomagna. Link: , March 2021

Interview on gender issues in "My Name is Francesca", a virtual exhibition at the time of COVID-19 with Francesca Lolli, Francesca Leoni and Francesca Fini, curated by Francesca Interlenghi, April 2020.

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

“The Language Forward Initiative: Virtual Places of Learning, Transnational Encounters and Socio-cultural Debates on Both Sides of the Atlantic and Beyond”, Italian Language and Culture Conference, Georgetown University, 26 October 2019.

“(In)digesting the Self: Migration, Patriarchy, Post-colonialism and Food in Igiaba Scego’s “Salsicce” (2003)”, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, July 9 2019 (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 2019.

“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 2019 (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 Endowment Grant. Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, UVa. (with Giulio Celotto and Giulia Paoletti (2020)

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; with Giulio Celotto and Giulia Paoletti - 2020)

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 (2020,2019,2018,2017,2016)

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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