Melissa Coburn’s Race and narrative in Italian women’s writing since unification (Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2013) explores ways in which narratives by four major Italian women authors treat the topic of race, both explicitly and implicitly. The study reveals specifics of the changing idea of race in Italy, in context with historical developments such as the formation of the Italian nation state, the development of scientific racism, regional identifications, anti-Semitism, and the Italian colonial effort. Coburn focalizes the historical and theoretical relationships between this history and contemporary narrative productions.
Melissa Coburn is Assistant Professor of Italian and Italian Program Director at Virginia Tech since 2009. Her primary research interests include the 20th century Italian novel, race and narrative in the Italian context, and the use of metaphor in political discourse. Her monograph Race and narrative in Italian women’s writing since unification was published in 2013 with Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. She has also published articles on Italian women authors including Dacia Maraini, Grazia Deledda, and Natalia Ginzburg.
Her most recent article examines the use of metaphors related to thought and ignorance in critiques of colonialism by Arcangelo Ghisleri, the founder and editor of the socialist newspaper Cuore e critica. This latter article is part of her larger current research agenda to examine the use of tropes in rhetoric about colonialism in late 19th century Italy.
The Visible Scholarship Initiative is a collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the University Libraries that seeks to make visible the stages of research and creative scholarship in the liberal arts and human sciences. Illustrating how faculty address key questions, employ varied methods, and produce significant results makes it possible to acknowledge and encourage research and creative activities that engage challenging questions and demonstrate sophisticated understanding.