Professor Charles Burdett

Contact details

Professor Charles Burdett
BA, MA, DPhil (Oxon)
Director; Professor of Italian Studies
Institute of Modern Languages Research
Institute of Modern Languages Research School of Advanced Study University of London Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
020 7862 8739
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Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Cultural memory, Culture, Language and Literature (Italian), Literatures in a modern language
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) 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: 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
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