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The Australian National University

Dr Susanna Scarparo

PhD in Italian and Comparative Literature, the University of Auckland
Associate Professor in Italian Studies and Associate Dean (Student Experience)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Cultural Studies 2002
  • Culture, Gender, Sexuality 200205
  • Globalisation And Culture 200206
  • Screen And Media Culture 200212
  • Migrant Cultural Studies 200208
  • Language Studies 2003

Research interests


Italian Cinema

Women Filmmakers

Global Studies

Contemporary Italian Language and Culture

Literary Theory

Life writing

Historical fiction


Susanna Scarparo studied literary studies as an undergraduate in Italy and holds a PhD in Italian and Comparative Literature from the University of Auckland.

Her research program follows four main trajectories within the broad interdisciplinary fields of Cultural Studies and Italian Studies: Italian cinema, women filmmakers, contemporary women writers (with special attention to autobiography and biography), fliterray theory, feminist theory (with special attention to sexual difference theory), global studies, migration and diaspora studies (focusing on narratives and life writing).

She is the author of Elusive Subjects: biography as Gendered Metafiction (2005) and is co-author of Reframing Italy: New Trends in Italian Women’s Filmmaking (2013), and Reggae and Hip Hop in Southern Italy: Politics, Language and Multiple Marginalities (forthcoming). She has co-edited Violent Depictions:  Representing Violence across Cultures (2006), Across Genres, Across Genres, Generations and Borders, Italian Women Writing Lives (2005), and Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Italian Culture: Representations and  Critical Debates (2010). She has also published numerous articles and book chapters on life writing, feminist theory, women’s historical fiction, Italian cinema and literature.

She teaches Italian language and culture, and has taught cinema, global studies, life writing, and literary studies

Researcher's projects

I am  currently completing a co-authored monograph, Reggae and Hip Hop in SoutherItaly: Politics, Language and Multiple Marginalities. Adopting a cultural studies approach, this project explores the political, social, linguistic and cultural significance of a number of under-researched yet important musical contexts and artists in Southern Italy from the beginning of the 1980s to the present. Specifically, my collaborator and I discuss ways in which imported musical forms, such as reggae and hip hop have been synthesised within locally distinctive Italian contexts emphasising a transcultural process that foregrounds non-institutional politics and marginal languages and subjectivities.

I am also working on a project dealing with film as political intervention and strategy of resistance in favour of transcultural exchanges. I am focusing on examples of films that engage powerfully with experiences of trespassing boundaries between peoples and borders between countries.

My co-authored monograph Reframing Italy: New Trends in Italian Women Filmmaking (2013) is the first extensive study of the recent activity of women directors working in Italian Cinema. The book also includes video interviews with filmmakers that we recorded, subtitled and edited and that are available online.

I worked extensively on theories of life writing, historiography and historiographic metafiction, publishing a monograph, peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and one co-edited volume of essays. In Elusive Subjects: Biography as Gendered Metafiction (2005), I present a theory of biography by analysing specific examples in which history turns into fiction and fiction becomes history. This reflection on biography has contributed to a deeper understanding of the relationship between fiction, women’s history and the writing of women into history.

Past student projects

Examples of Research Topics Supervised

  • Resistance and Identity in Italian Reggae
  • Autobiography and Relational Narratives
  • The cinema of Nanni Moretti
  • Tragedy and Postcolonialism in Australian and Italian Literature
  • Historical Fictions by Italian Women Writers
  • Translation of Australian Literature in Italian
  • Women in Italian cinema
  • Italian Australian Theatre
  • Constructions of self and identity in Australian Italian literature
  • A community staging its death: two Generations of Italian-Australian theatre
  • Construction of cultural identities by third Generation Italo-Australians
  • Finding a voice of one’s own in the language of the Other: African Italian Women Writers
  • Fabrizio De Andrè – Connecting Music, Culture and Society
  • The Unspeakable / Invisible Genre: Defining modern Italian Lesbian Literature
  •  Motherhood in Contemporary Italian Women Writers
  • Second generation Chinese migrants in Prato
  • Construction of Cultural Identity Amongst Third Generation Italians in Melbourne
  • Creating Selfhood Through Fiction
  • Life Writing

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Updated:  25 June 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers