Research Seminar: Graduate Research (Modern) - Charles Leavitt & Sara Troyani


Location: Special Collections in the Hesburgh Library

Italian Research Seminar

Graduate Research in Modern Italian Culture


Making Guidos: The Construction of Italian-American Identity on Jersey Shore - By Sara Troyani

This paper explores the performance of “guido” and “guidette” subculture on Jersey Shore.  I argue that the MTV series deploys stereotypes of Italian-American identity in ways that challenge the possibility for a real–as opposed to constructed–Italian-American culture.  Consequently, its representation of guidos and guidettes may be read productively to denaturalize essentialized notions of what it means to be Italian American.


What was Neorealism? - By Charles Leavitt

This paper re-interprets neorealism through a holistic, critical analysis that contextualizes the movement within the debates that dominated post-war Italian cultural and political periodicals. Leavitt argues that neorealism represents the convergence of trends in modern European literature with the social and political demands of post-Fascist Italy. Neorealism radically revises the theoretical and ideological foundations of textual representation and fundamentally re-envisions the relationship between literature and society. Leavitt argues that neorealism consolidates the modernist cultural innovations of the first decades of the twentieth century and sets the stage for the rise of experimentalism and the neo-avant-garde in the decades to come, serving as the fulcrum of the Italian twentieth century.



Sara Troyani holds a B.A. summa cum laude in Spanish and Italian from Cornell University and a master’s in Italian Studies from UC Berkeley.  She is pursuing her doctorate in Italian Studies with a concentration in Screen Cultures at the University of Notre Dame, where she is a Humanities Presidential Fellow.  While completing her doctoral work, Sara is also lecturing in Italian Studies at Berkeley.  Her research interests include travel literature and the formation of Italian identities. 


Charles Leavitt is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Italian Studies at the University of Notre Dame, having earned the PhD in Literature from Notre Dame in August 2010. He studies postwar Italian literature in a comparative context. His dissertation, entitled Reconciling Word and World: Theories of Literature in the Age of Neorealism, examines postwar Italian newspapers, journals, and literary periodicals in order to illuminate the cultural, political, and literary debates that re-shaped Italy after Fascism, and to redefine the Italian contribution to modern European literature and culture. Leavitt has been a Presidential Fellow in Humanities at the University of Notre Dame and an Annese Fellow of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.



The Italian Research Seminar, jointly organized by the Devers Program in Dante Studies and by Italian Studies at Notre Dame, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar is vigorously interdisciplinary, and embraces all areas of Italian history, language, and culture (from literature to film, from art history to music, and from anthropology to architecture), as well as perceptions of Italy, its achievements and its peoples in other national and international cultures. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame's community of Italianists to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for all Italianists.