Check other recent calls and fellowships.       Keep updated on Twitter and Facebook.


Call for papers “Italy at Work. Representations of Labour in Italian Culture”, SIS Postgraduate Colloquium 2020, online edition


Online, 27 November 2020


Labour, both as a form of human sustenance and self-realisation and as a source of alienation, social conflict and, in some cases, death, has often been represented in Italian culture through the centuries in different media: literature, art, music, theatre and cinema. Unemployment, with its existential and social outcomes, has similarly attracted the interest of artists.
For centuries the presence of labour as a theme in the artistic expressions was only episodic and incidental. The changes in the economic system as well as in the status of artists and the emergence of realist poetics led, in the 19th century, to the admission of work and labour into the realm of what was considered representable. The 20th and 21st century witnessed the birth and canonisation of specific genres of Italian literature and cinema focussed on rural, industrial and then immaterial labour and on unemployment and the casualisation of work.
These recent phenomena have been the object of foundational critical studies on literary and cinematic representations of labour, which have defined new fields of research and attract growing attention from scholars of different disciplinary areas. However, the artistic representations of labour produced in earlier periods are equally interesting precisely for their non-systematic, less conscious and more scattered character. The long-lasting removal of labour from the artistic field and, conversely, the hints of a precocious interest in labour even in earlier centuries are key questions to reflect on too, for their historical, philosophical and anthropological implications in addition to the aesthetic considerations.
In recognising the importance of labour as a question to be discussed, especially during these unprecedented times of occupational instability, the 2020 Online SIS PG Colloquium will be an occasion to reflect collectively on such a crucial aspect of human life and its artistic representations.
The colloquium is seeking proposals from the SIS PG community members for individual papers of 15 minutes that address representations of labour, alienation and unemployment across all areas of Italian Studies (including literature, art, music, theatre, cinema and the digital media). A comparative and/or transdisciplinary perspective will be of course very welcome. The chronological coordinates range from the Middle Age to the 21st century.
Questions to be addressed may include, but are not limited to:

  • Competing concepts of labour, alienation and unemployment
  • Labour in Italian cinema and theatre
  • Representations of working bodies
  • Social conflicts and protests related to labour
  • Representations of ‘precariato’
  • Language and tropes of labour
  • Labour and free time
  • Representations of intellectual labour
  • Migrant writing and labour
  • Automation and labour
  • Representability and invisibility of labour
  • Realism and labour
  • Concepts of otium and negotium in Italian literature
  • The role played by Internet in an era of ‘smart’ working: materiality vs immateriality of labour
  • Time and space: the chronotopes of labour
  • Gender and labour; class and labour; ethnicity and labour


Abstracts of no more than 250 words, accompanied by a short biographical statement on the same page, should be sent to by Friday 28th August 2020. The conference will be held in English and Italian. In submitting your abstract, please inform us if you want your paper to be considered for publication with our new SIS PG journal Notes in Italian Studies.

For further information, please contact SIS postgraduates Erica Bellia and Bianca Rita Cataldi at the above email address.
Please note that the event will happen online.

Who we are || Support us

Leave a Reply