Francesca Billiani

Francesca Billiani


Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


2001- 2003: Full-time Researcher, CULTOS project, Institute of Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London 
2003-2011: Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Italian

2015-2018: Director of CIDRAL, Centre for the Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts and Languages.

Research interests

In my work I explore the intersections between historical, cultural, political and aesthetic spheres. My research focuses largely on the fascist period (translation, censorship, the arts), the late nineteenth-century Italian novel (Gothic and Fantastic fiction), literary journals, Modernism, history of publishing, intellectual history and more recently Public art. 

So far I have engaged with several entangled projects.

BA-funded projects:

Negotiating Identity: Translation, Editorial, and Cultural Policies in Inter-war Italy 

This project investigated the reception of, and responses to, translations of foreign literary texts in Italy in the inter-war period and resulted in my first monograph Culture nazionali e narrazioni straniere (Le Lettere, Florence, translated as National Cultures and Foreign Narratives, 2021)). While working on this project, I have published a few articles on the politics of translation, including poetry, and edited a volume on censorship and translation Modes of Censorship and TranslationNational Contexts and Diverse Media. Other articles and chapter supported by the BA are: ‘Political and Aesthetical Transgressions: Some Florentine Reviews à la Mode: Il Marzocco, Il Regno, Hermes, Il Leonardo, and La Voce, 1896-1914.’ in P. Brooker, & A. Thacker (Eds.), The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines, ‘Carlo Placci and Vernon Lee: a Cosmopolitan Anglo-Italian Friendship’, Comparative Critical Studies (with Stefano Evangelista, Oxford) and ‘Intellettuali militanti, funzionari e tecnologici, etica ed estetica in tre riviste fiorentine d'inizio secolo : Il Regno, La Voce, e Lacerba (1903-1914)’. In J. Burns, G. Romani, and A. Caesar, (Eds.), The Printed Media in Fin-de-siècle Italy Publishers, Writers, and Readers.

AHRC-funded projects:

(Re)writing the Nation: Re-mapping the Late Nineteenth-Century Italian Novel

This projected analysed the narrative space occupied by the Gothic and fantastic genres in Italy from the Unification to the 1970s. It resulted in an co-edited collection with Gigliola Sulis (Leeds) The Italian Gothic and Fantastic. Encounters and Re-writings of Narrative Tradition, and three articles in academic journals.

With Prof Daniela La Penna (Reading) and Dr Mila Milani (Warwick) I was engaged in a large AHRC-funded project entitled Mapping Literary Space: Intellectuals, Journals, and Publishing Firms in Italy 1940-1960. This project investigated patterns of organization, cultural activity, and aesthetic programme of literary intellectual networks in Italy in a period of Italian history (1940-1960) characterised by radical changes leading on from the fall of the regime to the 1960s economic boom. We have published three special issues of journals gathering the project’s outputs: Mediating Culture in the Italian Literary Field 1940-1960 (Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 2016), Journals and Intellectuals in Italy: Political, Cultural and Transnational Legacies (Modern Italy, 2016) and Patterns of Continuity and Rupture in the Italian Literary Field 1930s-1950s (Italian Studies, 2018).  

As leadership fellow for the AHRC-funded project, The Dialectics of Modernity: Modernism, Modernization, and the Arts under European Dictatorships (2016-2018), I co-authored a monograph with Laura Pennacchietti (RA) entitled Architecture and the Novel under the Italian Fascist Regime (2019). This Open Access book is linked to the website the Dialectics of Modernity and the two should be enjoyed as one, see item In 2021 I published another monograph Fascist Modernism. Arts and Regimes (Bloomsbury) which investaigates the Italian system of the arts under the Fascist regime, spanning architecture, literature, the visual arts, and sculpture. 

I am currently working on a small BA-funded project entitled Geographies and Histories of Murals in 20th Century Italy. And I am currently gathering data about muralism, street art and new muralism in Italy when used as means of urban regenaration. 

I am also starting to work on a project reconstructing the circulation of Italian anti-fascist magazines across the globe, from Latin America to Australia, starting from the censorship documents held at the State Archive in Milan. 

I have supervised two Maria Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellows and several PhD projects. I would be happy to hear from anyone intersted in pursuing doctoral and post-doctoral research. 



Other teaching information

Teaching Areas:

  • Fascist Cultural Policies (UG and PG)
  • Cultural theory (UG and PG)
  • Visual Culture (UG)

Past Research Students

  • Michela Baldo, Translation as Re-narration in Italian-Canadian Writers.
  • Giulio Giusti, Modern and Contemporary Painting in Dario Argento's Films
  • Francesca Nottola, Translation as a potential catalyst for social change? Feminine models from Romanzi della Palma(1932-1943), fascist discourse and Italian culture and society.
  • Mila Milani, How to be a Poet, Translator and Editor: Attilio Bertolucci and the Modernization of The Italian Literary Canon.
  • Laura Pennacchietti, Italian Translations of Postcolonial English Novels: Mapping Cultural and Linguisitic Otherness in the Italian Literary Marketplace.
  • Chiara Berrani, Alice's Adventures in the Italian Land: Translating Children's Literature in Italy Across a Century (1865-1988). 
  • Elena Anna Spagnuolo, Hybrid Voices in Self-Translations
  • Anna Lanfranchi, Negotiating Italian Translation Rights.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Literature, The University of Reading

Award Date: 1 Jul 2002

Bachelor of Literature or Bachelor of Letters, University of Trieste

Award Date: 27 Nov 1997

External positions

Peer-reviewer (international), Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

2017 → …

Areas of expertise

  • DG Italy
  • D901 Europe (General)
  • PC Romance languages
  • PN0441 Literary History
  • NA Architecture
  • ND Painting
  • NE Print media

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute
  • Creative Manchester
  • Digital Futures
  • Sustainable Futures


  • Modernism, Arts, Dictatorships, Italian Studies, Journals, Intellectual History, Aesthetics and Politics


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