Children’s Literature in Italy
A space dedicated to Italian and international research on children’s literature and culture
Children’s Literature in Italy is a project that stems from the wish of the community of Italian scholars working on children’s literature and culture to share their work with the international academic and non-academic public.
We aim to promote the work of scholars at all career stages, and from a wide range of disciplines and cultural backgrounds; disseminate knowledge about children's literature and culture among the academic and the wider public; and create a space where people with an academic, professional, or personal interest in children’s literature and culture can gather information and engage with the latest debates in this area.
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Laura Tosi is Full Professor and Deputy Head of Department at the Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy). Her research interests span between Elizabethan and Jacobean drama (especially gender and adaptation studies) and children’s literature in English (especially fairy tale and fantasy literature).
In 2010, she was invited to give the prestigious Annual Sybille Pantazzi Memorial Lecture in Toronto, at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books. Her talk, Once Upon a Puppet: Pinocchio and Fairy Tales in Contemporary Culture, matched the exhibition "A name that will bring him luck": Pinocchio and the Italian Fairy Tale Tradition. Her work on Pinocchio and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass led her to specialize in transnational children’s literature. In 2015, this gained her an invitation to speak at the “150 anni di Meraviglie” (“150 Years of Wonders”) conference in occasion of the anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures at the internationally-renowned Bologna Children's Book Fair. The most recent product of her research in this field is the book The Fabulous Journeys of Alice and Pinocchio: Exploring their Parallel Worlds (Mc Farland, 2020), authored with Peter Hunt. In 2020, the book won both the “Elisa Frauenfelder” international prize [ITA] of the Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples, for the category “Culture and innovation”, and the national prize of the Associazione Italiana di Anglistica (Italian Association of English Studies), the AIA Book Prize 2020 (Senior), for the category English Cultural Studies.
Professor Tosi also combines her expertise in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama with research in the field of children’s literature. In 2014, she published the monograph Raccontare Shakespeare ai bambini, Adattamenti, riscritture, riduzioni dall’800 a oggi (Franco Angeli 2014), while in 2015 she authored a children’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice illustrated by Desideria Guicciardini, which was adapted [ITA] for the stage at the Globe Theatre, London, in 2016. In that same year, she was also invited as a speaker for the conference “As You Like It: Teaching Shakespeare in Primary and Secondary Classrooms” held at the British Library, London. In 2021, her adaptation of The Merchant of Venice was translated in Chinese [ITA].
Professor Tosi was part of the initial team that contributed to the work of Children’s Literature in Italy; together with Professor Alessandra Petrina, of the University of Padua, she co-edited the volume Dall'ABC a Harry Potter. Storia della letteratura inglese per l'infanzia e la gioventù (From ABC to Harry Potter – A History of English children’s and young adult literature). The text consisted in a collection of essays produced by the members of the team, and was the first history of English children’s literature in Italian ever produced.
Links to Professor Tosi’s main publications in the area of children’s literature are available in the “Publications” section.
IRC Starting Laureate, Discipline of Children Studies and The Moore Institute for research in the Humanities and Social Studies
University of Galway
Dr Anna Gasperini is an IRC Starting Laureate at the University of Galway, Ireland, where she researches children’s health in the nineteenth century. She received her PhD in English in 2017 from the University of Galway (then NUI Galway), and she is the author of Nineteenth Century Popular Fiction, Medicine, and Anatomy - The Victorian Penny Blood and the 1832 Anatomy Act (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). She has recently completed the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research project FED - Feeding, Educating, Dieting: A Transnational Approach to Nutrition Discourses in Children’s Narratives (Britain and Italy, 1850-1900), a comparative study on English and Italian nineteenth-century children’s literature and the history of child nutrition at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. In October 2021, she won one of the Marie Curie Plus One Research Fellowships that Ca’ Foscari University of Venice reserves to select Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellows who have recently completed their project to apply for a major European Research Council funding scheme (Horizon Europe or ERC) with Ca' Foscari. Since September 2022, her research is funded by the Irish Research Council Laureate programme, a funding scheme for cutting-edge PI-led research. Her current project MILC - “MedIcal Literature and Communication about Child health (1850-1914)”, studies child health publications for parents in English, Italian, and French, comparing the discourses and strategies they used to convey scientific information to a non-specialist audience.
Dr Alessandro Cabiati is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Brown University. His current research project, “Madness in Fairy Land” (MadLand), investigates the ways in which nineteenth-century literary fairy tales, for children as well as for adults, contributed to the cultural discourse on psychological deviance, abnormality, and monstrosity while also influencing medical debate. Dr Cabiati’s main interests are in comparative literature and culture, focusing in particular on the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural intersections between fairy-tale studies and nineteenth-century psychiatry in France, Britain, Italy, and the US. In 2019, he was the recipient of the IAFA’s Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for his essay on pathological obsession and refrains in Arrigo Boito’s fantastic literature and fairy tale “Re Orso”. In recent years, he undertook research at King’s College London and at the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh.
Find Dr Cabiati’s interview about the beginning of his project [ITA].
Children’s Literature in Italy was founded in 2007 at the University of Milan by Professor Francesca Orestano, with the support of the British Consulate-General, Milan, the British Council, and the International Research Society for Children's Literature (IRSCL). The project was conceived by English Literature scholars, but it aimed to become a key resource for academics and readers from other disciplines and fields. Its chief purposes were:
- to provide information to scholars, teachers, and readers
- to encourage research
- to grant visibility to the subject within the area of Literary and Cultural Studies in English
- to foregrounded research in Italy in the field of children’s and YA literature.
Cooperation was (and will continue to be) pivotal to ensuring the achievement of these goals: the initial team of scholars that devoted their efforts to this purpose included researchers from the Universities of Foggia, Padua, Salerno, Venice and Milan, specifically:
- Mariangela Mosca Bonsignore, (Università degli Studi di Torino)
- Elena Paruolo (Università degli Studi di Salerno)
- Alessandra Petrina (Università degli Studi di Padova)
- Laura Tosi (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia)
- Antonella Cagnolati (Università degli Studi di Foggia)
- Carlo Pagetti (Università degli Studi di Milano)
- Marco Canani (Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio” Chieti-Pescara), Assistant editor and webmaster
In 2021, following Professor Orestano’s retirement, the website moved to Ca’ Foscari University, under the management of Professor Tosi, and will continue to disseminate and promote studies in children’s literature developed by both Italian and international scholars.