Graduate Students

Anna Aresi
Anna AresiAnna AresiAnna Aresi (Ph.D. candidate in Italian Studies) graduated summa cum laude from the University of Padua in Classics and Italian Literature and Philology. Before coming to Brown, she also studied in Vienna and at UC Berkeley. In the past years at Brown she taught various Italian language courses, organized a poetry reading group, and organized the 2012 edition of the Chiasmi Graduate Conference. Her dissertation project explores the reception of Dante in European modernist poetry, focusing especially on T. S. Eliot, Osip Mandelstam and Clemente Rebora. Her interests include, but are not limited to, Dante studies, Italian modern and contemporary literature, reception studies and the history of the book, theories of reading and the practice of lectio divina, second language acquisition, contemplative approaches to teaching.
Lianca Carlesi
L. CarlesiL. CarlesiLianca Carlesi (Ph.D. candidate in Italian Studies) graduated summa cum laude from the University of Bologna where she earned a Master Degree in Contemporary Italian Literature. A fundamental step of her path towards the choice of applying for a Ph.D. in the United States has been her experience as intern at the Italian Culture Institute of Chicago, where she had a first chance to get in touch with the world of American academia and Italian departments. Lately she has been working on the relationship between the (late) fascist era and the Resistance period, with particular regard to literary production and intellectuals history.
Wuming Chang

Wuming ChangWuming ChangIn 2010, Wuming Chang received a B.A. in Philosophy from Peking University, China. In college he also worked extensively in theatre as an actor in both the English and Chinese languages, acting in 7 university, festival and commercial productions. His undergraduate project attempted a critique of the theory of the metaphysical foundation of human rights outlined in philosopher James Griffin’s 2008 book On Human Rights. In 2011 he entered the department of Italian Studies at Brown University as a PhD student. His interests include Pico della Mirandola, Dante, the classical traditions in Medieval and Renaissance theatre and literature, and the role of “the canon” in modern society. Other maybe less academic yet no less serious interests include philosophy, Christan theology, theatre performance, and music.

Mena Fantarella

M. FantarellaM. FantarellaFilomena Fantarella (Ph. D. candidate in Italian Studies) graduated summa cum laude from Sannio University. After her graduation she worked as an intern editor at l'Indipendente and Il Manifesto. In 2007-2008 she worked as junior advisor for the Department of Regional Affairs in Rome, on European cooperation projects. In 2009-2010 she was a visiting scholar at Harvard University, where she worked on Gaetano Salvemini's American experience. She is currently a fourth year PhD student at Brown University. Her interests include intellectual history, literature and politics, the emergence of fascism in Italy, the exile of italian intellectuals to the United States from 1928 to 1948.

Valeria Federici

ValeriaValeriaValeria Federici graduated in Lettere with a concentration in Art History from the University RomaTre in Rome, Italy. Herthesis “Il ferro battuto nei Villini di Roma” focused on the urban architectural interventions in the Prati neighborhood (north-east of Vatican City) between 1886 and 1925, and in particular on the realization of ornaments for one-family homes which reflected the “Italian style” as conceived by a particular institution active at that time in Rome: the Museo Artistico Industriale. The thesis revolved around the debate intercourse among members of the Italian intelligentsia on how best to present the city to the world in order to successfully reflect its leadership as the political and moral capital of the recently formed Kingdom of Italy and how to distinguish the modern city from the “Rome of the Vatican”. Through her research project, she explored the role of the district council, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Public Education in controlling the cultural representation through initiatives such as the Universal Exposition held in Rome in 1911 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of the nation. Following her interest in modern and contemporary art and culture, in 2007 she started a career as an arts manager in the US, between New York City and the Berkshire of Western Massachusetts also working as an independent curator and art editor. Her more recent research projects include exhibitions and art writings on the intersections between contemporary art practices and social change. Before moving to the US, she worked as a freelance journalist and held a position of project manager for a Rome-based communication company for three years. Her teaching experience includes Italian language instruction in Barcelona, Spain and several guest lectures and roundtables about arts management, art and activism and the role of cultural institutions in place-making and community-building in post-industrial cities. Currently a second year PhD student at Brown, her academic interests include modern and contemporary art, activism and technology.
Alessandra Franco

A. FrancoA. FrancoAlessandra Franco (Ph. D. candidate in Italian Studies) graduated summa cum laude in Lettere classiche from the University of Rome “La Sapienza.” Her laurea thesis, “La Vita di Macrina: una biografia femminile dalla tarda antichità” (The Life of Macrina: A Female Biography from Late Antiquity), explored the development of female monasticism during the course of the fourth century. She has taught Italian in Rome and in the United States (University of Dayton and Saint Louis University). She started her PhD work at Brown in 2009. Her academic interests include Dante studies, medieval and early modern religious history and women's history. Her current research focuses on sixteenth-century Rome charitable institutions devoted to the education of women. 

Nicole Gercke

N. GerckeN. GerckeNicole Gercke (Ph. D. candidate in Italian Studies) received a B.A in Classics from Dartmouth College with a minor in Studio Art. After college, she spent time in Edinburgh, Scotland and at a small art school in Greece. She worked for several years writing and designing elementary math lessons for an online instructional company based in her hometown of Charlottesville, VA. After working as an English teacher in various regions of Italy, she completed her M.A. in Italian Literature at Middlebury College in Florence. Her M.A. thesis, Le connotazioni di Zeno, explored the various critical interpretations of Svevo's novel which are suggested by the protagonist's name. Her teaching experience includes English language instruction in Italy and Italian instruction at Brown University. she is at work on a dissertation on the ides of Hybrid in the work of Alberto Savinio.

Zoe Langer

Zoe LangerZoe Langer

Zoe Langer received her BA in Art History and Italian Studies at UC Berkeley in 2009. She also studied at the University of Padova in 2007-2008, during which she received a research fellowship to study at the state archives in Siena. She then pursued graduate studies at the University of Cambridge, where she received an MPhil in European Literature and Culture in 2010. Her thesis, “Constructing a Vernacular Politics in the Sala dei Nove in Siena: Art, Language, and Ideology,” examined medieval political culture in Siena through the lens of literature, art history, politics, and linguistics. Zoe’s interests include text and image studies, vernacular literary culture, translation and reception theory, the history of the Italian language, and medieval political culture.


Michela RonzaniMichela RonzaniMichela Ronzani

Michela Ronzani (Ph. D. candidate in Italian Studies) graduated from the University of Ferrara in 2006 with a BA in History of Visual and Performing Arts and in 2007 she completed a MA in Arts Administration at Bocconi University in Milan. During her undergraduate studies she was a TA of Italian at Middlebury College for one year. Before coming to Brown she worked in Milan as booking agent for classical musicians and orchestras and she was a private teacher of Italian language in New York. Her main academic interest is Italian Opera, in particular opera's role during the Risorgimento and opera audiences at the end of 19th century. During this academic year, Michela will be completing her dissertation tentatively titled Opera between art and entertainment in fin de siecle Italy. In the past years at Brown, she taught various language courses, she organized the 2012 edition of Chiasmi, the Brown-Harvard Graduate Student Conference, and she has been involved in the organization and project coordination of the conference and concert series Music Between Nation and Form: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and the Boundaries of Italianita'.
Anna SantucciAnna SantucciAnna Santucci

Anna Santucci received her BA in Modern Languages and Literatures (English, German and Spanish) at the University of Padua (Italy) in 2009; her final dissertation was entitled “‘Curious, if True’: a Translation into Italian of a Tale by Elizabeth Gaskell.” In 2011 she completed an MA in English Literature at the University of Nottingham (UK), which focused on 19th century British literature. Her dissertation was entitled “Cinematic Dickens? An Analysis of Characterization in ‘Little Dorrit’ and its 1987 Film Adaptation by Christine Edzard.” In 2011 she co-authored an article published in the on-line journal Scenario: ‘Rewriting the “Duchess of Malfi”: Adapting Webster’s tragedy for an ESL drama production’; in the same year she was also involved in a Post-Graduate production of the play Fashion by Doug Lucie at the New Theatre in the University of Nottingham. Anna’s interests include second language acquisition, literary translation, drama, and adaptation and appropriation issues. Currently a third year PhD student at Brown, Anna is teaching language courses and working towards her dissertation project on the intersection of theatre arts and second language acquisition.