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Dr Serena Vandi

Junior Research Fellow in Italian


Serena’s main research interests are: Dante Alighieri; Carlo Emilio Gadda; Dante’s reception; medieval and twentieth-century literature and culture; intertextuality; comparative literature; satire. Her research focuses on the Italian modernist writer Carlo Emilio Gadda, particularly on his anti-fascist works and his use of satire. Her project, ‘Gadda: Fascism, Satire and Truth’, has a two-fold aim: firstly, to investigate and reassess Gadda’s relationship with fascism, building on the recent publication of the original uncensored version of his main anti-fascist work, Eros e Priapo (Adelphi, 2016); secondly, to investigate the more general relationship between power, satire and truth. Serena’s methodology is a combination of close reading and a theoretical and comparative approach.

Serena has worked for many years on Dante and Gadda, coming to a thorough reassessment of the traditional way of interpreting the relationship between these two cornerstones of Italian literature (Satura: varietà per verità in Dante and Gadda, doctoral thesis in the process of being published). With a comparative approach, she has made use of the category of ‘satura’, in order to identify the relationship between ‘variety’ and ‘truth’ as a fundamental structure in the works of Dante and Gadda, thus offering a reflection on some general matters in literary criticism, in particular on the relationship between the formal structure of the text and its ethical-gnoseological potentiality.


Serena is Powys Roberts Research Fellow in European Literature at St Hugh’s College and member of the Sub-Faculty of Italian in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. She teaches Italian literature, especially Dante and 19th and 20th century literature.

Serena studied in Bologna, where she obtained her B.A. and M.A. in Italian studies and where she was a student of the Collegio Superiore. She then worked as a museum curator, a proofreader, an organizer of language and career events for students at the University of Bologna, and a secondary school teacher of Italian and History.

In 2019, she obtained her Ph.D. in Italian studies at the University of Leeds, with the thesis ‘Satura: varietà per verità in Dante e Gadda’ (‘Satura: Truth through Variety in Dante and Gadda’), which is in the process of being converted into a monograph. At the University of Leeds, as a Ph.D. student and then as a LAHRI Short-Term Postdoctoral Fellow, Serena taught Italian language and literature at all levels, especially Dante and Italian crime fiction, and she worked as a Research Culture intern. She presented her research at many international conferences (Bologna, Leeds, Harvard, Hull, Sussex, Groningen, Edinburgh, Ravenna); she co-organised in Leeds an international conference on Dante (‘L’ombra sua torna’: Dante, the twentieth century and beyond, 2017) and an international research day on Gadda (Un laboratorio per l’ingegnere. A Research Day on Gadda, 2018); she was a member of the ‘Leeds Centre for Dante Studies’ and of the interdisciplinary research group ‘ItaLeeds: Researching Italy from Leeds’.


  • Ph.D. in Italian (University of Leeds)
  • Diploma of the Collegio Superiore (University of Bologna)
  • M.A. in Italian Studies (University of Bologna)
  • B.A. in Italian Literature (University of Bologna)


  • ‘Dante and Gadda: Outsider Prophets’, in Resistance in Italian Culture from Dante to the 21st Century, edited by Ambra Moroncini, Darrow Schecter, Fabio Vighi (Firenze: Franco Cesati, 2019)
  • ‘Dante in Gadda: lirismo “ricombinante” ne La Madonna dei Filosofi’, L’Alighieri 45 (2015), 35-70
Junior Research Fellow in Italian
Modern Languages
Academic - Fellows & Lecturers