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
  • Literary Studies 2005

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), 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 (with Bernadette Luciano, 2013), and Reggae and Hip Hop in Southern Italy: Politics, Languages and Multiple Marginalities (with Mathias Stevenson, 2018). She has co-edited Violent Depictions:  Representing Violence across Cultures (with Sarah McDonald, 2006), Across Genres, Across Genres, Generations and Borders, Italian Women Writing Lives (with Rita Wilson, 2005), and Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Italian Culture: Representations and  Critical Debates (with Charlotte Ross, 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 cinema, and has taught global studies, life writing, and literary studies

Researcher's projects

I am currently working on two projects. On explores women's mixed-genre and autobiographical films. The other project focuses on film as political intervention and is provisionally entitled "Documentaries for Social Change: Activism, Citizenship and Border Crossing." I am focusing primarily on examples of films that engage powerfully with experiences of trespassing boundaries between peoples and borders between countries.

My co-authored monograph (with Mathias Stevenson), Reggae and Hip Hop in Southern Italy: Politics, Languages and Multiple Marginalities (2018) explores the significance of reggae and hip hop in Southern Italy from the beginning of the 1980s to the present. Focusing on groups and solo artists located predominantly in the Southern Italian regions of Apulia and Sardinia, the book examines the production and distribution of their music, lyrics and video clips. To this end, Reggae and Hip Hop in Southern Italy emphasizes the linguistic aspects of cultural marginalization as well as marginalities linked to geographical location, gender, and to social and political identification. We argue that the artists we discuss in our book defy the cultural stereotypes of the South and engage critically with the challenges and opportunities offered by globalization. These transcultural and multilingual musical productions represent one of Italy’s most significant forms of creative political expression since the 1970s.

My co-authored monograph (with Bernadette Luciano), 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. Reviewers have praised the book for its originality and theoretical sophistication, and as an indispensable point of reference for future research in the field.

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. This book has received overwelwingly enthusiastic reviews, praising in particular my cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approach.

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 August 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers