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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

ITALIAN DEPT RA5 2001
Research Structure and Staff
The University considers this UoA a significant contributor to the vigorous national- and international-level research activity of its School of European Languages (SEL), and has therefore committed itself to an enhanced level of research-active staffing, and encouragement of a coherent if small postgraduate group through assignment of research studentships to the Department by University Research Committee. The Department currently has four full-time research-active members of staff. A former full-time member retired in September 1998, returning for two years for teaching-only duties; his successor has already played some part in stimulating departmental and SEL initiatives outlined in this section.
Although much research conducted in the Department relies on libraries in the University and elsewhere in the UK, two members of the Department working in the areas of history and politics, Professor Gino Bedani and Dr Jonathan Dunnage, depend heavily on archives in Italy. The Department's study-leave programme enabled them to take leave in the second semesters of 1997/8 and 1998/9 respectively, and spend much of the time in Italy; Mr Howard Moss was on leave during the second semester of 1996/7. All four of the current full-time research active members of the Department have had research leave in the last four years.
The Department is currently reviewing the taught curriculum, and taking the opportunity to examine its structure as well as its content with a view to more systematic promotion of research. A weekly research day has been introduced for each research-active member of staff, and a cycle of research leave for all members has been put in place, as have arrangements to enable leave to be extended from time to time with the assistance of external funding, without other departmental activities being disrupted. The MA in Italian Studies is being replaced by a new modular scheme with a view to raising the profile of advanced study in the subject generally, and, in particular, facilitating production of home-grown PhD students.
The University recently devolved its Research Development Fund, enabling the Department to provide additional financial assistance for short visits to Italy, and attendance at conferences. Dunnage also obtained an AHRB grant (paid direct) for research in Italy in 1996, and a grant in aid of publication from the Italian Cultural Institute in 1999.
Research activity is supported by a regular seminar involving staff of the Department, postgraduate students, and visiting speakers. This is conceived as offering opportunities for discussion of work in progress, for postgraduates to gain experience of presenting and discussing their own and others' work, and for colleagues beyond the Department to enrich its research culture. Bedani, Dunnage and Dr John Law of the Department of History are developing a link between the two departments through regular exchange of seminar presentations; from further afield, Dr Derek Duncan (Bristol) and Professor David Forgacs (London) have accepted invitations to speak this session. A theme systematically highlighted by internal papers in 1999/2000, with a view to assisting colleagues and postgraduates working in cognate areas, was the use of archives and interpretation of sources (linguistic data, police records, and parliamentary and party congress documents in the cases of Moss, Dunnage and Bedani respectively); this session's outside speakers will address areas of interest - autobiography and film - previously less familiar within the Department. The introduction of a joint seminar with the Departments of French and Hispanic Studies is under discussion, as is development of new, thematically coherent but inter-departmental, School of European Languages-based MA and MPhil programmes: in these ways, SEL is seeking to move towards a more cohesive research culture than hitherto.
All members of the Department have engaged in collaborative work, and although our research is not directly related to industry and commerce, Dunnage is involved in collaborations which have attracted governmental and corporate sponsorship. His publications include his contribution to a 1996 Paris conference sponsored by the French Interior Ministry. Another project, sponsored by Volkswagen, the International Association for the History of Crime, and the Dutch Posthumus Institute, examines social control in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe: he attended preparatory interim seminars in Leuven (July 1998), and Lisbon (February 2000), and his contribution, on policing in Italy, will be published alongside those of specialists in other countries. Bedani, with Dr Bruce Haddock of the UWS Politics Department, has co-edited a volume on Italian national identity; they have also contributed companion studies - respectively historical and political in focus - to a project published (May 2000) by the European Commission on Social Partnership in the European Union; further associated publications are forthcoming with Berg. Moss has been working with Dr Vanna Motta of Cardiff University on Italian vocabulary and its usage, and Smith with a broad spectrum of British and European specialists in Media Studies (including Professor Ulrike Meinhof of the University of Southampton School of Modern Languages), and now also with a group of North American and European scholars associated with Annali d'Italianistica.
Research Students
The Department currently has five research students (one part-time MPhil, one part-time PhD, and three full-time PhDs). One is engaged in the field of contemporary fiction, another in intellectual history, and the remainder in modern history and politics. All are within the Department's mainstream research areas, thus both drawing on and contributing to the depth of its core research effort. This excludes three further part-time research students in their writing-up period.
In addition to standard IT and library facilities used by all these students, the full-timers each have a networked PC located in an office shared by the three of them.
The Department has been successful in obtaining full University of Wales Swansea studentships for two of the full-time PhD students: these are highly competitive, and the successful candidates were respectively one of eight in the University in 1999-2000, and one of eleven in 2000-2001, from over seventy candidates in each case. The third candidate obtained one of forty bursaries from the University of Wales, covering fees.
In addition to being well-integrated into the Department's own research activities, the full-time research students enjoy the added stimulus of conducting tutorials on collaborative undergraduate courses on a regular basis, two with students of the English Department and one with the Philosophy Department.
Two of the research students have launched an Internet review of contemporary Italian culture, Movimento, with material appearing every two months since March 2000 (www.swansea.ac.uk/italian/mov1/HomePage.htm): it is hoped to develop this further in due course - if practicable, by recruiting a full Editorial Board.
Additional Research Output
The choice of publications to cite in RA2 was not always easy. Bedani omitted three published articles and Dunnage four publications in his field. Smith, a category A* submission, had an additional five publications which have been excluded. Moss has omitted an article in the field of linguistic history.
Research Strategy and Self-Assessment
As at RAE1996, research continues to be promoted in the areas of contemporary Italy (political thought and social and political history), linguistic history (with special reference to the modern period), and modern Italian literature. The latter was the specialism of Mr Brian Cainen, now retired and not submitted at this RAE, although his book on Il Gattopardo mentioned in the 1996 submission has been completed and published. His successor Dr Jonathan Smith works in an overlapping area (now interpreted as falling within a broader field of Cultural Studies).
The Department's research students are highly motivated and well on course for punctual completion, and are receiving help and encouragement in developing an initial programme of publications.
Bedani has completed all the projects mentioned in the 1996 RAE with the exception of the volume Modern Italy: A Political History. This was delayed by the request of the publishers themselves (OUP) that he withdraw it from the intended OPUS series and complete a work of double the length. This is on course (24 of the 36 sections currently completed). Although not contained in the 1996 plans, two further initiatives were undertaken. First, at the request of the editors of Social Partnership in the European Union, Bedani wrote the historical chapter on Italy, in collaboration with Haddock who contributed the political chapter. Again collaborating with Haddock, he has edited the volume Italian National Identity, and made three contributions (see RA2). When his OUP volume is completed, Bedani intends to follow up research in the general area of catholic thought.
Dunnage has likewise completed all his projects, except his social history of twentieth-century Italy: this has been rescheduled to accommodate other research commitments. Among these, he was asked by the organizer of the 1996 Sussex University International Contemporary History conference to edit a separate volume - now published - containing the Italian contributions, including pieces by such eminent historians as Claudio Pavone and Guido Neppi Modona. He was also invited to contribute to the Social Control Project funded by Volkswagen and other organizations, which has entailed the preparation of two separate seminar contributions in Leuven and Lisbon, in July 1998 and February 2000. In addition, he was invited to prepare papers for a Conference on the Gendarmerie at the Sorbonne in March 2000, for the European Social Sciences History Conference in Amsterdam, April 2000, and for the University of Milan conference on the Italian police in November 2000. All these will be published in edited volumes: he has, therefore, produced a significant number of research publications not foreseen in the 1996 plans. The social history volume is, however, in preparation, and six of the intended seven chapters have been completed. Dunnage will continue his research on the police, linking this with new areas of interest which have arisen in the process of writing his twentieth century social history.
Moss has completed the publications projected in 1996, except the article on Cassola, to be submitted shortly but suspended in order to complete the much larger and time-consuming volume Using Italian Synonyms. In the meantime he contributed his Vittorini article to a special themed issue of Romance Studies on 'weather'. His future plans include an application to Italian of the synonym theory utilised in producing Using Italian Synonyms. He is also discussing with CUP the production of a volume, Using Italian, which will include theoretical and practical discussions of variations in usage in contemporary Italian within the context of the Italian sociolinguistic situation.
Smith has joined the Department at the beginning of a new phase in his research signalled by his major article on Tabucchi in Annali d'Italianistica 2000. He is now drafting a series of related articles, which will cumulatively form a book-length study. This project has been carefully formulated with a view to drawing together a number of different interests to support serious and important work on the boundaries of literature and philosophy; it has significant potential both to contribute to development of the indigenous British academic culture in the area of Italian Cultural Studies, and to attract interest in North America and Italy: interim publications will be lodged in all these geographical areas. He was invited to speak at the American Association of Italian Studies conference (New York, April 2000), and at the London Institute of Romance Studies conference on 'Postmodernist Discourse and Contemporary Italian Fiction' (October 2000), giving papers on Tabucchi on both occasions. As the project nears maturity, he will seek external funding to support relatively rapid completion and definitive publication. Building also on his recent publications in the field of Media Studies (an innovative co-edited book on intertextuality in media discourse, including two chapters co-authored by the editors), subsequent research may bear on visual and media, as well as literary and theoretical, culture. This is likely to be inflected by developments within the institution, since he is currently engaged in working towards the development of film studies in the broader context of the impending introduction of degree schemes in Media Studies within SEL, as well as the development of literary and theoretical components of SEL postgraduate programmes. The latter, in conjunction with his work on Tabucchi, are also currently stimulating the conception of a study of Pirandello.
The Department has kept quite firmly to the main directions of the research projected in 1996: all those projects are either complete or well on course, and have been complemented by plans and initiatives which have arisen since, and led to additional publications. The research culture already well embedded in the Department, and backed by a good number of research students relative to its size, has been strengthened by an appointment in the area of Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, and will be strengthened by synergies with the revised curriculum and in time within SEL.

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Last updated 17 October 2003

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