Concordia University

Elena Benelli, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer, Honours Advisor and Coordinator, Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics

Office: S-H 543-4 
Henry F. Hall Building,
1455 De Maisonneuve W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5475
Website(s): profile

My current research focuses on Italian migrant writers and the representation of migrants in contemporary Italian cinema. In Italy migrations are a relatively new phenomenon, as the peninsula has exported over the last century millions of citizens all over the world, but was totally unprepared when, at the turn of this millennium, it became for the first time in its history a destination country for many immigrants trying to reach a better life in Europe. If, as has been noted by Stephen Castels, we live in the “age of migration,” then issues related to it, such as identity, integration, migrants’ representation just to name a few, are at the core of the political, sociological and intellectual life of the country.

I address migration issues from a literary angle, and I analyze the writings of authors who are of immigrant origin (be it of first or second generation, born in Italy or elsewhere) and deconstruct homogenous representations of national Italian identity. 

I focus as well on Italian cinema because it directly challenges the audience’s stereotypes on migrants, destabilizing their own assumptions as well as contrasting the discourse coming from the media and the state, engaging with these social issues in an innovative way.

Teaching activities


ITAL 446 Cultural Expressions in Italy: fromNeo-Realism to the Present (Winter 2016, in Italian)

ITAL 367 Cultural Views of Italy (Winter 2016,in English)

ITAL 306 Translation Practice (Winter 2016)

ITAL 306 Introduction to Translation (Fall 2015)

ITAL 498 The Contemporary Italian Novel (Fall2015, in Italian)

ITAL 398H/FMST 398H Dramatic Representations of Contemporary Italian Culture (cross-listed with the Film and Media Studies Department, Fall 2015, in English)

Selected publications


Shifting and Shaping a National Identity. Transnational Writers and Pluriculturalism in Italy Today.

Selected publications

Come diventare italiani in 24 ore: Reconfiguring Italian Identity in LailaWadia’s Narrative.” Shifting and Shaping a National Identity:Transnational Writers and Pluriculturalism in Italy Today. Eds. Elena Benelli and GraceRusso-Bullaro. Leicester: Troubador Italian Studies, 2014. 85-110. Print.

“Mediterranean Seafarings: PelagicEncounters of Otherness in Contemporary Italian Cinema.” Europe in Its Own Eyes, Europe in the Eyes of the Other. Eds. Mary DeCoste and David B. MacDonald. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014.342-363. Print.

“Migrant Discourses in ContemporaryItaly.” Conserveries Mémorielles 13.Numéro special: Frontières, barrières,horizons. Réinterroger l'histoire et les mémoires de la migration.Université Laval, Laval/Institut Historique du Temps Présent, Paris. (2013):March 2013.


Plenary Speaker (selected)

“Shifting and Shaping a National Identity: Migrant Writers in Italy.” School of Languages and European Studies, University of Guelph, Guelph, November 10, 2014.

“Migrant Literature in Italy.” College of William and Mary, Williamsburg (VA), January18, 2014.

“Franchirles frontières: à la rencontre de l’autre.” Ph.D. seminar, Littérature et interculturalité: Haut Adige/Südtirol, Centrecanadien d’études allemandes et européennes, Université de Montréal, March 21,2012.

“Others’Italy, Italy’s Others: How Migrant Literature Challenges Italian Identity.” From the Unity of Italians to the Unity ofItalics: Languages of Italicity around the World, University ofPennsylvania, Philadelphia, April 15-16, 2011.

Conferences (refereed)

Shattered Belongings: Postcolonial Spaces inIgiaba Scego’s narrative.” NeMLA, Toronto, April 30-May 3, 2015. (Accepted)

“Through Water and Mountains: EcocriticalRepresentations of Migration in Contemporary Italian Cinema.” Society for Cinema and MediaStudies, Montreal, March 25-29, 2015. (Accepted)

“Mare chiuso (ClosedSea): Posthuman Representations of Migration in Contemporary ItalianDocumentary.” Thinking Through Deleuze: Nomadic Subjects, GlobalCitizenship and Posthumanism, Brock University, February 6-8, 2015. (accepted)

“Come diventare italiani in24 ore: Reconfiguring Italian Identity in LailaWadia’s Narrative.” American Associationof Italian Studies, Zurich, May 23-25, 2014.

Ecriture migrantes en Italie.ACFAS (Association francophone pourle savoir), Concordia University, Montreal, May 12-16, 2014. 

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