Dr Alice Franzon


My Research

I have recently received a PhD from the University of Leeds. My thesis, Resistenza antiretorica: strategie narrative in Calvino, Pavese, Meneghello e Fenoglio (2018), was supervised by Dr Gigliola Sulis and Dr Olivia Santovetti. 

This thesis investigates the concept of 'anti-rhetoric' applied to certain literary works on Italian Resistance: this label has been particularly overworked by critics and sometimes by the authors themselves, and it requires contextualisation and interpretation. The so-called 'anti-rhetorical' novels this thesis focuses on are Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno by Italo Calvino (1947), La casa in collina (1948) and La luna e i falo' (1950) by Cesare Pavese, Una questione privata (1963) and Il partigiano Johnny (1968) by Beppe Fenoglio and I piccoli maestri (1964) by Luigi Menghello. The anti-rhetorical nature of the novels is established by a precise system of intrinsic formal and thematic elements, which nonetheless cannot be considered independently of the cultural and political debates surrounding the Resistance from the 1940s to the present day. My research identifies the narrative strategies that allow readers to define these novels as 'anti-rhetorical', and the limits of such a definition. 

About Me

I did a BA in Italian at the University of Padova; my final thesis Nuove funzioni del dialetto. Osservazioni sull'uso del dialetto nel social network, supervised by Prof. Laura Vanelli, investigated the use of Venetian dialect in the modern social networks from a sociolinguistics point of view. Once I had graduated with Distinction, I started my MAR at the University of Leeds (AHRC funded), under the supervision of Dr Gigliola Sulis and Professor Brian Richardson. My MAR thesis, entitled Narrations of the Italian Resistance. Language and themes in 'I piccoli maestri' by Luigi Meneghello and 'Il partigiano Johnny' by Beppe Fenoglio, focused on the way Italian Resistance is portrayed in the multilingual novels by Fenoglio and Meneghello. I graduated in July 2013 with Distinction. 

* I am the PGR Intern for LivItaly, a project coordinated by Italian@Leeds, which is attracting some leading figures from the Italian cultural scene to Leeds and Yorkshire (such as Massimo Carlotto, Vinicio Capossela, Giancarlo De Cataldo and Marcello Fois). 

* I am the co-founder and director ItaLeeds. Researching Italy from Leeds, an interdisciplinary project promoted by researchers studying Italy across disciplines at the University of Leeds. ItaLeeds was awarded an AHC Faculty Interdisciplinary Research Support Award. 


  • Retoriche dell’antiretorica. La Resistenza italiana nella Casa in collina di Cesare Pavese e nei Piccoli maestri di Luigi Meneghello (SIS Postgraduate Conference, London - Italian Cultural Institute, 6 November 2015)
  • Retoriche dell’antiretorica. The Italian Resistance in Cesare Pavese’s La casa in collina and Luigi Meneghello’s I piccoli maestri (University of Durham, Leeds and Manchester Joint PGR Day, University of Leeds, 13 November 2015)
  • "Non ci netteremo mai da questa muffa". Declinazioni dell'antiretorica nei Piccoli maestri (Invited speaker - Education and Re-Education. Luigi Meneghello's Schooling in Fascist Italy - University of Reading, 6 May 2016)
  • L'antieroismo nei romanzi resistenziali (SIS Biennial Conference - University of Hull, 27-30 June 2017)
  • "Questo è uccidere": la rappresentazione della violenza nel romanzo antiretorico resistenziale (SIS Themed Conference - University of Sussex, 5-6 April 2018)
  • Italian Resistance. Civil War in the Anti-rhetorical Novel (Invited speaker - Yale University and Johns Hopkins University "Memory Studies in Modern Europe" workshop: Representations of Resistance and the Shoah in Post-War Italy - Yale University, 18 April 2018)
  • "Tutti li dovete ammazzare". Violenza e guerra civile nel romanzo resistenziale (Invited speaker - seminar for The Dante Alighieri Society of Birmingham - University of Birmingham, 29 May 2018).
  • Against Rhetoric. An Ethical Debt to England (ItaLeeds - A Tale of Love and Hate. Reception, Interaction and Rejection in the Italy-UK Relationship - University of Leeds, 7 June 2018).

Event Organisation



Research interests

Literature of Italian Resistance, Contemporary literature, Relationship between literature, history and public discourse, Multilingualism, Language and style. 



  • PhD in Italian Studies
  • Master of Arts by Research
  • BA Hons (Italian Studies)

Research groups and institutes

  • ItaLeeds: Researching Italy from Leeds
  • Italian