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Dr. Elena Benelli

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

Dr. Elena Benelli
Office: S-FB 1000-35 
Faubourg Building,
1250 Guy
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5475
Website(s): profile

My current research is focused on therepresentation of migrants and refugees in recent Italian documentaries andfilms, in particular on the issue of border crossing andthe fictional representation of borders. The field of documentary cinema inItaly has seen a resurgence in the last ten years and it has become of crucialimportance in the representation of socio-cultural issues such as directly challenging the audience’s stereotypes on migrants, destabilizing their own assumptions, engaging with social issues of hospitality and citizenship in an innovative way.

I also study Italian migrant writers and the representation of migrants in contemporary Italian fiction. 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.

Teaching activities

Recent courses


ITAL 303 Academic Writing in Italian (Winter 2019, in Italian)

ITAL 240 Intermediate Italian Intensive (Winter 2018, 6 credits)

ITAL 498 Documenting Italy: Moving Images of Contemporary Italian Society (Fall 2017, in English)

ITAL 240 Intermediate Italian Intensive (Fall 2017, 6 credits)


ITAL 367 Cultural Views of Italy (Winter 2018, in English)

ITAL 240 Intermediate Italian Intensive (Winter 2018, 6 credits)

ITAL 311 Survey of Italian Literature 2 (Fall 2017, in Italian)

ITAL 240 Intermediate Italian Intensive (Fall 2017, 6 credits)

ITAL 490 Honours Essay in Italian (Summer 2017, 3 credits)

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)

·     “Facing the Migration Crisis: Migrant Representations in Contemporary Italian Cinema” School of Languages and European Studies, University of Guelph, Guelph, November 15,2017.

·     “Documenting Italy: Migrations in Italian Literature,Cinema and Documentary.” University of British Columbia, Vancouver, March 1,2016.

Conferences (refereed)

 “Italian Cinema and Migrations: The Work of AndreaSegre.” Canadian Association for ItalianStudies, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, May 11-13, 2018.

Respondent for the conference Geopolitics of Italian Cinema: Expanding Postcolonial Approaches,Concordia University, October 27-28, 2017.

 “B/orders, b/ordering and borderscapes inContemporary Italian Documentary.” PostcolonialStudies Association ConventionSchool of AdvancedStudy, Senate House, University of London, September 18-20 2017.

·       DocumentingMigrations: Border Crossings in Italian Documentary.” Canadian Association for Italian Studies, University of Toronto,May 13, 2016.

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

·      Through Water and Mountains: Ecocritical Representations of Migration in Contemporary Italian Cinema.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Montreal, March 25-29,2015.

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