- Professor Charles Burdett
- BA, MA, DPhil (Oxon)
- Director; Professor of Italian Studies
- Institute of Languages Cultures and Societies
- Institute of Languasges, Cultures and Societies School of Advanced Study University of London Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
- 020 7862 8739
- Email address:
Research Summary and Profile
- Research interests:
- Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Cultural memory, Culture, Language and Literature (Italian), Literatures in a modern language
- Research keywords:
- Italian fascism, colonialism and post-colonialism, transnational Modern Languages, Italy and Islam
- Africa, Europe, Middle East
- Summary of research interests and expertise:
The principal areas of my research are literary culture under Fascism; travel writing; the Italian colonial presence in Libya and East Africa and its legacy; theories of inter-cultural and transnational contact; the representation of Islam and the Islamic world in recent Italian literature and culture. An important part of my work concerns the theoretical frame through which we consider transnational contact and the implications for the disciplinary field of Modern Languages of the study of cultural translation in all its forms.
This research interest lies at the heart of the AHRC beacon project of which I was Principal Investigator, Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures (2014-2017) https://www.transnationalmodernlanguages.ac.uk/. The project explored a series of critical instances of linguistic and cultural translation with a specific focus on modern Italy and the experiences of mobility that are embedded in its recent history. The project used the Italian case as a template from which to develop a renewed model for the work of MLs and its applications in the 21st century. For details of the Liverpool University Press series, ‘Transnational Modern Languages’, see: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/series/series-13275/.The grant was followed by the project TML: Global Challenges (2016-17), which explored multilingualism and multilingual education in the context of Namibia. This was followed by TML: Exhibitions for Impact (2017) which brought key outputs of the project to New York, Melbourne, and Addis Ababa.
My book, Italy, Islam and the Islamic World: Representations and Reflections from 9/11 to the Arab Uprisings (2016) examined some of the most significant voices that have made themselves heard in defining Italy’s relationship with Islam and the Islamic world in a period of great geopolitical and cultural upheaval. My monograph, Journeys through Fascism (2007, pbk 2010), drawing on a wide range of theoretical work on travel and cross-cultural exchange, examined representations by Italian writers of travel within Italy and the expanding empire, to the Middle East, Spain, Germany, Russia, and the United States. I am editor, with Loredana Polezzi, of Transnational Italian Studies (2020) and, with Loredana Polezzi and Barbara Spadaro, of Transcultural Italies: Mobility, Memory and Translation (2020).
As a development from my work on travel in the inter-war period, I have published on the eschatological elements of Fascist colonial discourse, on the immediate aftermath of the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, and on recent representations of the Italian presence in Africa. I am currently working on a project on the representation of the Italian Empire and its Afterlife.
Spoken Written French Fluent Fluent Italian Fluent Fluent
- Publication Details
Date Details 28-Jul-2023 Foreword
Foreword to Islam and Me: Narrating a Diaspora (Rutgers University Press) by Shirin Ramzanali Fazel, edited by Simone Brioni, pp. ix-xxiv
29-May-2023 Embedding transnationalism in Modern Languages pedagogy: A UK perspective
Burdett, C. (2023). Embedding transnationalism in Modern Languages pedagogy: A UK perspective. Forum Italicum, 57(2), 315–323. https://doi.org/10.1177/00145858231172557
23-May-2023 Where are we now? And where do we go from here? Reflections on the Durham conference, 19-21 April 2023
'Where are we now? And where do we go from here? Reflections on the Durham conference, 19-21 April 2023'
Written by Charles Burdett (ILCS), Joe Ford (ILCS), Naomi Wells (ILCS) | 23 May 2023
Blog post on Durham conference on the futures of Modern Languages
04-Jan-2023 A new name for the Institute of Modern Languages Research
A new name for the Institute of Modern Languages Research
Charles Burdett and Joseph Ford
Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies (ILCS)
Journal of Romance Studies Volume 22, Number 4, Winter 2022
ISSN: 1473-3536 (Print) • ISSN: 1752-2331 (Online) © Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies 2022
01-May-2022 The Transnational Study of Italian Culture and the Ghosts of Empire
‘The Transnational Study of Italian Culture and the Ghosts of Empire’, Journal of the British Academy, 10: 1–19
‘Knowledge’, Transnational Modern Languages: A Handbook, eds. Jenny Burns and Derek Duncan, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, pp. 157-165
07-Dec-2021 ‘We have to deploy modern languages in confronting our challenges’
2021: ‘We have to deploy modern languages in confronting our challenges’, C. Burdett and C. Gorrara, Talking Humanities, 7 December,
11-May-2021 Global Britain and the Question of Communication
2021: ‘Global Britain and the Question of Communication’, Languages, Society and Policy, 11 May
01-May-2021 The Italian Community of Addis Ababa
C. Burdett, 'The Italian Community of Addis Ababa' in Italy is Out, Mario Badagliacca and Derek Duncan, Liverpool University Press, 2021, pp. 48-50.
01-Jun-2020 Raffigurazioni dell’Islam all’indomani degli attacchi di 9/11
‘Raffigurazioni dell’Islam all’indomani degli attacchi di 9/11’ in Islamofobia made in Italy: stereotipi e immaginari sull’Islam, sui musulmani e sulle musulmane, ed. Gabriele Proglio, Milan: Mimesis.
01-Jun-2020 Secrets and Lies: Francesca Melandri’s Sangue Giusto (2017) and the Uncovered Memory of Italian East Africa
‘Secrets and Lies: Francesca Melandri’s Sangue Giusto (2017) and the Uncovered Memory of Italian East Africa’, Forum For Modern Language Studies, (Special issue on ‘Transnational African Literatures’), 56 (1), pp. 49–65.
01-May-2020 ‘The Transnational/ Translational in Italian Studies’
‘The Transnational/ Translational in Italian Studies’, Italian Studies, special anniversary issue on new directions in Italian Studies, with N. Havely, L. Polezzi, (75)2, pp.223-236.
01-May-2020 Addressing the Representation of the Italian Empire and its Afterlife
Addressing the Representation of the Italian Empire and its Afterlife’, Transnational Italian Studies, pp. 249-267.
‘Introduction’, with L. Polezzi, Transnational Italian Studies, Liverpool University Press, pp. 1-21.
01-May-2020 Italy and Africa: Post-War Memories of Life in Eritrea and Ethiopia
‘Italy and Africa: Post-War Memories of Life in Eritrea and Ethiopia’, Transcultural Italies: Mobility, Memory and Translation, pp. 101-25.
‘Introduction’, with L. Polezzi and B. Spadaro, Transcultural Italies: Mobility, Memory and Translation, pp. 1-20.
01-May-2020 Transcultural Italies: Mobility, Memory and Translation
2020: Transcultural Italies: Mobility, Memory and Translation, eds. C. Burdett, L. Polezzi and B. Spadaro, Liverpool: LUP.
01-May-2020 Transnational Italian Studies
2020: Transnational Italian Studies, eds. C. Burdett and L. Polezzi, Liverpool: LUP.
01-Sep-2019 In Conversation: Translating Cultures
‘In Conversation: Translating Cultures’ (Charles Burdett, Angela Creese, Charles Forsdick and Alison Phipps, The Translator, 25 (4), pp. 420-433.
01-Sep-2018 Transnational Time: Reading Post-War Representations of the Italian Presence in East Africa
‘Transnational Time: Reading Post-War Representations of the Italian Presence in East Africa’, Italian Studies, 73 (3), pp. 274-88.
10-Jul-2018 Moving from a National to a Transnational Curriculum: The Case of Italian Studies
2018: ‘Moving from a National to a Transnational Curriculum: The Case of Italian Studies’ Language, Society and Policy, 10 July.
01-Sep-2017 The Islamic World as Other in Oriana Fallaci’s Trilogy
‘The Islamic World as Other in Oriana Fallaci’s Trilogy’, 9/11 in European Literature: Negotiating Identities Against the Attacks and What Followed, ed. S. Frank, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 181-204.
25-Feb-2016 Let’s Talk about Wider Cultural Dialogue
2016: ‘Let’s Talk about Wider Cultural Dialogue’ Times Higher Education, 25 February.
04-Jan-2016 Italy, Islam and the Islamic World
2016: Italy, Islam and the Islamic World: Representations and Reflections from 9/11 to the Arab Uprisings, Italian Modernities, series editors Robert Gordon (Cambridge) and Pierpaolo Antonello (Cambridge), (Oxford and New York: Peter Lang) 232pp.
01-Sep-2015 The Debris of Utopia: The Cultural Construction of Empire and its Memory
‘The Debris of Utopia: The Cultural Construction of Empire and its Memory’, Colonialism and National Identity, eds. C. Dau Novelli and P. Farneti, (CSP: Cambridge) pp. 196-212.
01-Sep-2013 Representations of the Islamic Community in Italy 2001-2011
‘Representations of the Islamic Community in Italy 2001-2011’, Journal of Romance Studies, 13 (1), pp. 1-18.
01-Jun-2011 Nomos, Identity and Otherness: Ciro Poggiali’s Diario AOI and the Representation of the Italian Colonial World
‘Nomos, Identity and Otherness: Ciro Poggiali’s Diario AOI and the Representation of the Italian Colonial World’, Papers of the British School at Rome, 79, 2011, pp. 329-349.
01-May-2011 I viaggiatori italiani a Gerusalemme negli anni venti e trenta
‘I viaggiatori italiani a Gerusalemme negli anni venti e trenta’ [Italian Travellers to Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s] in Italia-Israele gli ultimi 150 anni, ed. S. Della Seta, Corriere della Sera Foundation. The essay in Italian, pp. 231-241; in English pp. 535-546.
02-Sep-2010 Representing Italy and the Islamic World: Culture, Self and Society in the Works of Magdi Cristiano Allam
‘Representing Italy and the Islamic World: Culture, Self and Society in the Works of Magdi Cristiano Allam’, Italian Studies, 2011, pp. 398-415.
02-Sep-2010 Mussolini’s Journey to Libya (1937): Ritual, Power and Transculturation
2010: ‘Mussolini’s Journey to Libya (1937): Ritual, Power and Transculturation’, National Belongings: Hybridity in Italian Colonial and Postcolonial Culture, eds. J. Andall and D. Duncan (Oxford and New York: Peter Lang), pp. 150-70.
02-Mar-2010 ‘Italian Fascism, Messianic Eschatology and the Representation of Libya’
Italian Fascism, Messianic Eschatology and the Representation of Libya’, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Vol.11, no.1, March 2010, pp. 3-27.
02-Sep-2009 Travel and Writing in Fascist Italy
2009: ‘Travel and Writing in Fascist Italy’, Italian Politics and Society, No. 67, pp. 14-22.
02-Sep-2008 Idee di imperialismo nella letteratura di viaggio tra le due guerre
2008: ‘Idee di imperialismo nella letteratura di viaggio tra le due guerre’, L’Africa orientale italiana nel dibattito storico contemporaneo, eds. B. Carcangiu, T. Negash, Rome: Carocci, pp. 300-315.
02-Sep-2008 Fictions and Narratives of Empire
2008: ‘Fictions and Narratives of Empire’, Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and its Empires, eds. P. Poddar, R. Patke and L. Jensen, Edinburgh: EUP: 281-83.
02-Sep-2007 Italian War Correspondents and the Spanish Civil War: Propaganda and Autobiography
2007: ‘Italian War Correspondents and the Spanish Civil War: Propaganda and Autobiography’, Biographies and Autobiographies in Modern Italy, eds. P. Hainsworth and M. McLaughlin: Oxford: Legenda, pp. 133-45.
02-Sep-2007 Perceptions of Italian Colonialism
01-Sep-2007 Journeys Through Fascism: Italian Travel Writing Between the Wars
During the twenty years of Mussolini’s rule a huge number of travel texts were written of journeys made during the interwar period to the sacred sites of Fascist Italy, Mussolini’s newly conquered African empire, Spain during the Civil War, Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and the America of the New Deal. Examining these observations by writers and journalists, the author throws new light on the evolving ideology of Fascism, how it was experienced and propagated by prominent figures of the time; how the regime created a utopian vision of the Roman past and the imperial future; and how it interpreted the attractions and dangers of other totalitarian cultures.
The book helps gain a better understanding of the evolving concepts of imperialism, which were at the heart of Italian Fascism, and thus shows that travel writing can offer an important contribution to historical analysis.
02-Sep-2005 Colonial Associations and the Memory of Italian East Africa
‘Colonial Associations and the Memory of Italian East Africa’ in Italian Colonialism: Legacy and Memory, eds. Andall, J. and D. Duncan, Oxford and New York: Peter Lang, pp. 125-42.
02-Sep-2003 Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s
2003: Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s, eds. C. Burdett and D. Duncan, Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books. 211pp
02-Sep-2003 Historical perspectives on Italian colonialism
‘Historical perspectives on Italian colonialism’, Special issue of Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 8:3, (pp. 370-374). With J. Andall and D. Duncan.
02-Sep-2003 Approaches to Italian Colonialism: Introduction
‘Approaches to Italian Colonialism: Introduction’, Special issue of Modern Italy, 8:1, (pp. 4-7). With J. Andall and D. Duncan.
02-Sep-2003 Italian Fascism and Utopia
‘Italian Fascism and Utopia’, History of the Human Sciences, 16 (1), pp. 93-108.
‘Introduction’ to Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s, eds. C. Burdett and D. Duncan, Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 1-8.
02-Sep-2002 Signs of Roman Rule: Italian Tourists and Travellers in Greece and Egypt
‘Signs of Roman Rule: Italian Tourists and Travellers in Greece and Egypt’ in Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s, eds. C. Burdett and D. Duncan, Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 107-119.
02-Sep-2001 Memories of Italian East Africa
02-Sep-2000 Journeys to the Other Spaces of Fascist Italy
02-Sep-2000 Journeys to Italian East Africa 1936-1941: Narratives of Settlement
02-Sep-1999 Changing Identities through Memory: Curzio Malaparte’s Self-Figurations in Kaputt
‘Changing Identities through Memory: Curzio Malaparte’s Self-Figurations in Kaputt’, European Memories of the Second World War, eds. C. Burdett, C. Gorrara, H. Peitsch, Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 110-119.
02-Sep-1999 Different Visions of Space: Italian Fascist Writers and the United States
‘Different Visions of Space: Italian Fascist Writers and the United States’, New Readings, 5, pp. 9-25.
02-Sep-1999 European Memories of the Second World War
1999: European Memories of the Second World War, eds. C. Burdett, C. Gorrara, H. Peitsch, Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books. 333pp. [Issued in paperback in 2005].
02-Sep-1999 Vincenzo Cardarelli and His Contemporaries: Fascist Politics and Literary Culture
1999: Vincenzo Cardarelli and His Contemporaries: Fascist Politics and Literary Culture, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 228pp.
02-Sep-1998 ‘Montale and Cardarelli: a Two-way Traffic of Influence’
1998: ‘Montale and Cardarelli: a Two-way Traffic of Influence’ in Eugenio Montale: Words in Time, eds. G. Talbot and D. Thompson, Market Harborough: Troubador, pp. 43-56.
02-Sep-1996 Visions of the United States: A Note on the Different Styles of Emilio Cecchi and the Americanisti
‘Visions of the United States: A Note on the Different Styles of Emilio Cecchi and the Americanisti’, Modern Italian Notes, 111 (1), pp. 164-70.
02-Sep-1996 An Italian Perception of Mexico: Emilio Cecchi’s Uncanny Discovery of the Ancient Aztec Civilization
‘An Italian Perception of Mexico: Emilio Cecchi’s Uncanny Discovery of the Ancient Aztec Civilization’, Tesserae, 2 (1): 55-72.
02-Sep-1995 ‘Success and Failure of Vincenzo Cardarelli’s Neo-Classical Project’
‘Success and Failure of Vincenzo Cardarelli’s Neo-Classical Project’, The Italianist, 15, pp. 128-50
Date Details 2018 Transnational Modern Languages: Reframing Language Education for a Global Future
2018: ‘Transnational Modern Languages: Reframing Language Education for a Global Future’ (Policy Report of TML).
[With J. Burns, D. Duncan, L. Polezzi.]
[Presented at the British Academy, 9 November 2018, speakers: Janice Carruthers, Charles Forsdick, Claire Gorrara, Bernadette Holmes, Neil Kenny, Karen Salt.]
- Research Projects & Supervisions
Details Transnationalizing Modern Languages (2014-18)
Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures (TML) was one of three large grants (£2m) awarded under the AHRC’s Translating Cultures scheme. TML set out to examine forms of mobility that have defined the development of modern Italian culture and its interactions with other cultures across the globe. It sought to do this by concentrating on a series of exemplary cases, representative of the geographic, historical and linguistic map of Italian mobility.
The project engaged with cultural associations, schools, policy makers and individuals in an exploration of heritage, cultural memory and educational practices. From the insights that developed into transnational Italian cultures, TML played a leading role in the reframing of the study of the disciplinary framework of Modern Languages, arguing that it should be seen as an expert mode of enquiry whose founding research question is how languages and cultures operate and interact across diverse axes of connection.
Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Exhibitions for Impact (2017-18)
Since its inception in 2014, Transnationalizing Modern Languages (TML), one of three large grants in the AHRC's Translating Cultures scheme, conducted research into the communities of the Italian diaspora. The research concentrated on cases representative of the geographic, historical and linguistic map of Italian mobility: Italian communities in the UK, the US, Australia, and South America; colonial settlement within Africa and the Mediterranean; migrant communities within contemporary Italy.
An important element of the project was the organization of two exhibitions, one at the British School at Rome (October - November 2016) the other at the Italian Cultural Institute (December 2016 to January 2017). Through the use of photography, audio and visual recordings, art installations and other material, the exhibitions displayed examples of people's experiences from across the globe and showed Italian culture in transnational perspective. The exhibitions showed the evolution of the project, its range of methodologies and the principle of co-produced research that lay at its core.
Impact follow-on funding (£30,000) allowed the exhibition to be mounted in augmented reality at CO.AS.IT in Melbourne, at the Calandra Institute in New York, and at the Italian Cultural Institute in Addis Ababa.
Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Global Challenges (2016-18)
The project originated from Transnationalizing Modern Languages (TML), one of three large grants awarded under the AHRC's Translating Cultures scheme. TML's established group of Modern Languages experts conducted research revealing the centrality of a variety of language practices, ranging from multilingualism to translation, in migration contexts and multicultural societies. An important part of TML has been to develop methodologies aimed at embedding awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity within educational practices, from primary to higher and adult education.
The aim of TML: Global Challenges (£250,000) was to take the expertise and practical knowledge acquired within TML to Namibia by working closely with The Phoenix Project (Cardiff) and its educational partnerships. Methodologies developed in TML were adapted and refined to co-produce with researchers from the University of Namibia (UNAM) and local practitioners materials tailor-made for the Namibian context. The new research sought to facilitate educational and professional development through multilingual education in the local environment, identifying the school and health systems as key areas of social wellbeing and economic development.
Year: 2011-12: Italy and the Islamic World: Culture, Identity and Representation (2001-2011)
<p>The project set out to examine how the Islamic world has been represented in Italy from 2001 to the present. It looked in detail at the work of writers, commentators and journalists who have written extensively on Italy's relationship with the Islamic world and it examined the media - ranging from journalistic comment, foreign correspondence, collections of essays, autobiographies, travel writing and even fiction - in which their views have been expressed. It thus revealed the framework in which ideas on Italy and the Islamic world have been advanced; the range of concepts for understanding identity and difference that are relied upon; the rhetorical devices and figures of speech that are used most consistently. Through this kind of analysis, the project demonstrated how, over an exceptionally dramatic period of time, the Islamic world has been presented as an internal actor within Italian society, as a neighbouring presence, as a site of alternative civilization or as a minatory other. </p>
Current PhD topics supervised:
Dates Details From: 01-Sep-2021
Death, After-Death and Eternity as Essential Belongings of Human Life - Starting from Ernst Bloch, Martin Heidegger and Emanuele Severino
Co-supervised with Johan Siebers (main supervisor).
Representing Arab Diaspora in Contemporary Film and Literature
PhD in Modern Languages, co-supervised with Joe Ford (IMLR)
Representations of self and other in the work of Nuruddin Farah, Jhumpa Lahiri and Caryl Phillips.
Universities of Newcastle and Durham, with Neelam Srivastava.
The representation of the Italian expansionism in the Eastern Adriatic.
University of Durham, with Katrin Wehling-Giorgi.
Ernst Bloch and the Messianic Idea in the Twentieth Century
Co-supervised, from 2022, with Johan Siebers (main supervisor).
Past PhD topics supervised:
Dates Details From: 01-Oct-2016
Islamic communities in work of French writers/commentators from 9/11 to the Paris attacks
<p>Bristol University, with Siobhan Shilton and Gino Raymond</p>
Carlo Dionisotti and Luigi Meneghello: Italian intellectuals in exile
<p>Bristol and reading University, with Daniela LaPenna</p>
Theatre occupations in Italy in early 21st century
<p>Bristol University, with John Foot</p>
The journalism of Giuseppe Ungaretti
<p>Bristol University, with Martin Hurcombe</p>
Italian women’s memories of the Second World War
<p>With Ruth Glynn</p>
Travel writing by contemporary Italian women writers From: 01-Oct-2002
Representations of the Holocaust in Italian film and television
<p>With Derek Duncan and Tim Cole.</p>
Available for doctoral supervision: Yes
- Relevant Events
Date Details 20-Jun-2022 A Thousand Words for Weather
A new audio experience that probes the connection between the environment, language, sound and silence, marking a unique collaboration between Artangel, Senate House Library and the School of Advanced Study.
A Thousand Words for Weather takes place across three floors of London’s most iconic library as a sonic installation born out of a collaboration between writer Jessica J. Lee and seven other London-based poets of different mother-tongues.
Each poet chose and defined ten words for the weather in Arabic, Bengali, English, German, French, Mandarin, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, or Urdu. They then went on to translate one another's chosen weather words or phrases, contributing to a unique multilingual weather ‘dictionary’ that seeks to generate a shared language describing our collective experience of climate and the changing environment while exploring the nuance of meaning in translating and describing our multilingual realities.
Other editing/publishing activities:
Date Details 2021 Journal of Romance Studies
- Consultancy & Media
- Available for consultancy:
- Media experience: