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Name: Anna Lisa Somma

PhD: Italian Studies

Thesis Title: 'Donna con donna' (woman with woman): representations of female-female desire in early modern Italian literature


Thesis Description:

My project aims to investigate the representations and meanings of female-female desire in early modern Italian literature, analysing many textual forms and genres (cantari, comedies, pastoral dramas, etc.).

My research aspires to fill the present gaps, create the first, vast survey of female-female desire in early modern Italian literature and give an interpretation of the collected data coherent with their socio-cultural context.

My work has three main objectives: 1) to demonstrate the existence of a variety of forms of female-female desire in Italian early modern period; 2) to examine their modes of representations and their meanings in Renaissance literary imagery; 3) to investigate the narrative, linguistic and stylistic strategies adopted by Italian writers (especially women, e.g. Maddalena Campiglia and Isabella Andreini) to express – more or less explicitly – some peculiar values and/or transgressive tendencies.


Supervisors and Institution:

Dr Ita Mac Carthy (University of Birmingham)

Dr Charlotte Ross (University of Birmingham)


  • Junior Research Fellow at the Medici Archive Project (September 2016-March 2017), Florence, Italy



  • “Meglio ancora delle sue opere, che nessuno più legge”: note per la riscoperta di Maddalena Campiglia (1553-1595), Revista italiano UERJ, v. 1, 5: 181-213
  • Donna amando pur donna essendo: note per una lettura di genere dell'opera e della figura di Maddalena Campiglia, AG About Gender, 5


  • Il convolvolo e il pozzo: voci muliebri nei 'Canti d'amore giapponesi' (1902) e memorie dannunziane, Soglie, 2:37-52 (


  • Le giapponeserie di Giuseppe Ungaretti nel dibattito critico italiano, Soglie, 2:60-71


  • Le haijin soldat: gli haiku al fronte di Julien Vocance, Soglie, 3:12-19


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


  • Presentation of the poster 'Laura Cereta (1469-1499):"‘A Glow-Worm Shining […] among the Blazing Stars" ' at 'Dialogue and Difference in the Middle Ages' conference, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bristol (25th-26th February 2016)
  • Volunteer at the Italian Women Writers Project, University of Chicago (



  • Society for Italian Studies
  • Society of Medieval Feminist Scholarship
  • ACLA (American Comparative Literature Association)
  • AISTUGIA (Associazione Italiana per gli Studi Giapponesi - Italian Society of Japanese Studies)
  • SIS (Società Italiana delle Storiche - Italian Society of Women Historians)


Other Research Interests:

  • Renaissance Women's History
  • Gender Studies
  • Relations between gender and genre from the Renaissance to the contemporary
  • Italian contemporary literature
  • Comparative literature
  • Japanese literature
  • Japonisme in Italy and France
  • Linguistics
  • Language teaching