Francesca Calamita

Assistant Professor in Italian, General Faculty
NCH 482
Office Hours:
Monday & Wednesday 1:00pm-2:00pm and by appt

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, pop culture, advertisements, video performances and films. Her research interests also include medical humanities and 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, a number of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Francesca has also organized symposia over the course of her teaching fellowship at Victoria University of Wellington (2013) and Visiting Fellowship (2013-2014) at the University of London’s Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing where she continues to serve as an associate member.  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 on gender, women and food. Dr Calamita is a member of the interdisciplinary research network “Hungry for Words”, based at the University of Nottingham and funded by AHRC, where in July 2016 and January 2018 she was an invited speaker at the inaugural and final workshops of the collective. Dr Calamita is also interested in second language acquisition and in the intersections between Italian language and gender and serves as the Institute of World Language Reading & Research Group's team leader.

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 is also the project leader for Dolcissimo: Speak the Sweet Life, a second language acquisition and food studies project 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.


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 -- especially fiction, pop culture, advertisements, and film
  • Medical Humanities
  • Literatures of Migration


  • ITTR/WGS3559 “My Body, My Choice: Women’s Rights in Modern Italy”
  • ITTR/WGS3680 “Eve’s Sinful Bite:Foodscapes in Women’s Writing, Culture & Society”
  • ITAL2020 “Intermediate Italian Language II”
  • ITAL2010 “Intermediate Italian Language I”
  • ITAL1020 “Elementary Italian II”
  • ITAL1010 “Elementary Italian I”
  • ITAL4993 “Independent Study” – Elena Ferrante (Biyuan Gu)
  • ITAL4993 "Independent Study" – Michela Marzano (Avery Morrison)
  • ITAL 4989 Distinguished Major Thesis Director – Postcolonial Women's Writers: 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: Foodscapes in Italian Women’s Writing, Culture and Society, co-edited with Claudia Bernardi and Daniele De Feo (in preparation)

Selected Articles

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

“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)

“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.

Book Reviews

Enrico Cesaretti’s Fiction of Appetite, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 20: 2, Feb 2015, pp. 273-75.

Anna Banti’s Artemisia Gentileschi: Trial at Savella Court (Translated by Giuliana Sanguinetti Katz and Anne Urbancic), Quaderni d’italianistica, vol. xxxv, 1, 2014, pp. 159-161.

Michela Marzano’s Volevo essere una farfalla. Come l’anoressia mi ha insegnato a vivere, La Libellula – Rivista di Italianistica, n. 4, December 2012, pp. 143-44.

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.

Recent Presentations

"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

Book launch Linguaggi dell'esperienza femminile, Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, 26 June 2017

“Beauty Standards, Photoshop Effects and Patriarchal Indoctrination: Francesca Lolli’s How It Has To Be (2014)”, Cinema Conference, American University of Rome, 9-10 June 2017

“Identica a loro?”: Food, Identity and Religion in Igiaba Scego’s “Salsicce” (2003), NEMLA 2017, Baltimore, 23-26 March 2017

“Dolcissimo: A Delicious Way to Learn Italian Language and Culture Outside the Classroom”, NEMLA 2017, Baltimore, 23-26 March 2017

“Gendering Pathologies: Anorexia and Bulimia in Present-day Italian Women’s Writing”, Interdisciplinary Research Network on Male Anorexia workshop, 18-19 July 2016 (keynote contributor)

“Anorexia and the Politics of Food in Natalia Ginzburg’s short story ‘La madre’” (1948), American Association of Teachers of Italian Annual Conference, 22-27 June 2016, Universities of Naples “L’Orientale” and “Federico II”.

“Landscaping Eating Disorders in Contemporary Italian Women’s Writing: Gianna Schelotto’s Una fame da morire [Starving to Death], Alessandra Arachi’s Briciole [Crumbs] and Michela Marzano’s Volevo essere una farfalla [I wanted to be a butterfly]”, Perugia Food & Sustainability Studies Conference, 9-12 June 2015, Umbra Institute, Perugia.

"Peccatrici di Gola, Mistresses and Homemakers:  Representation of Femininities in Present-day Italian Food Advertisements”, Canadian Society for Italian Studies Conference, 19-21 June 2015, Sant’Anna Institute, Sorrento.

“Challenging Societal Expectation on Womanhood: Wanda Bontà’s Signorinette”, Women in Italian, 12 March 2015, The University of New York (invited speaker).

Selected Grants & Awards

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

Institute of World Languages, UVa, Language Program Grant (2017)

Institute of World Languages, UVa, Travel Grant (2016)

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

Institute of World Languages, UVa, Language Program Grant (2016)

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

AATI (American Association of Teachers of Italian), Travel Grant (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)

Institute of World Languages, UVa. Language Program 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)