Dr Olivia Santovetti

Dr Olivia Santovetti


  • Director of Italian

Research interests

My main interest is in the novel: its structure, its history and its culture. After a degree in Philosophy from the University of Rome, 'La Sapienza', I completed an MPhil in European Literature and a PhD at the University of Cambridge. The thesis examined the workings of digression in Italian literature from the birth of the modern novel in the early nineteenth century to the era of post-modernist experimentation. My aim was to explore the tensions digression engenders in the novel, by creating extra time within narration, disrupting the readers' expectations, and generating an act of reflection upon the narrative process itself. The approach was comparative, and referred to the work of other digressive authors, including Cervantes, Sterne and Diderot. This research was elaborated in my monograph: Digression: A Narrative Strategy in the Italian Novel (Bern: Lang, 2007).

My current research investigates the representation of reading and readers in the nineteenth-century Italian novel; my project, 'The woman reader in Italian literature and visual arts in the fin de sicle period', is funded by the British Academy (see website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/WomanReader)

I have published on Manzoni, Tarchetti, Dossi, De Roberto, Fogazzaro, Neera, Pirandello, Gadda,  Calvino and Elena Ferrante (on Ferrante see also my contribution to the podcast 'Language versus dialect, or why we're obsessed with Elena Ferrante', The World in Words , 11 April 2017, Public Radio International, USA). I have also published work on Laurence Sterne, and edited and translated a selection of his Sermons for Signorelli (1994) and for Mondadori (a section of the 'Meridiani' volume on Laurence Sterne, forthcoming). Before joining the University of Leeds, I was an Affiliated Lecturer and then Leverhulme Fellow at the Department of Italian of the University of Cambridge.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

The areas in which I can supervise research include eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian authors.

Office hours: Wednesday 13:00-15:00

Research groups and institutes

  • Italian
  • Centre for World Literatures
  • Literary studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>