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Virginia Woolf and Italian Readers

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ItalianWoolf (Virginia Woolf and Italian Readers)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-08-31

The research project ‘Virginia Woolf and Italian Readers’ aimed to understand how Virginia Woolf has been received in Italy and what steps her reception has taken to make a cultural icon of her. The project employed an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on English literature, reception and periodical studies and publishing history, and its first objective was to trace the waves of the Italian reception of Woolf, from her first appearance in the pages of the newspaper “La Stampa” in 1926 to today. The second objective was to highlight the social, cultural and institutional factors that shaped editorial policies surrounding Woolf’s work. I considered the importance of Woolf for the Italian public and publishing market and examined how her image has evolved through years both in the eyes of the critics and of the reading public. The Italian cultural-historical events served to understand the reasons for her reception and for the editorial choices made by publishers. In the monograph I am writing I illustrate in which ways fascist censorship prevented her dissemination in the marketplace, what role her work played in the rise of the feminist movements of the 1970s, and how the popularisation of her figure helped her to become a cultural icon in Italy. I examined the Hogarth Press fund held at the University of Reading and a series of Italian publishers' and translators' archives; I also interviewed the key agents of the translation and publication of Woolf in Italy. By investigating the scattered traces of Woolf in publishers’ and translators’ archives, I shed light both on the work of cultural mediation of translators and series editors and on the economic and social factors influencing publishers’ choices.
In order to facilitate research for the scholarly community, the key output of this project is an open-access digital and searchable database collecting all bibliographical references of articles, books, reviews on Woolf and all translations of Woolf’s works that have appeared in Italy, which will serve as a research tool for scholars, students and passionate readers. The Database is available here: https://italianwoolf.reading.ac.uk/
The Workpackage list I carried out consisted of 3 main steps:

WP1: Interrogating archives
I searched the Hogarth Press Fund while at the University of Reading and other archives were during secondment.
During secondment I carried out the most of my research in a total of 7 archives. I collected the data necessary to implement the envisaged datasets:

1. Documents from Scalero Fund
Covid-19 did not allow me to finish the scan work I had started, as the Scalero Fund closed in February 2020 but I did a good part of the work.

2. Interviews
I realised 7 video interviews with translators, publishers, editors and created videos that I published on the project’s website and on the YouTube channel of the project.
I also created an Open Access dataset complying with FAIR Data containing both subtitled videos and transcriptions of the interviews:
Bolchi, Elisa (May 2021): ItalianWoolf project: Interviews to Cultural Mediators of Virginia Woolf in Italy. University of Reading. Dataset. http://dx.doi.org/10.17864/1947.301.

3. Workshops with to college students
I delivered 3 workshops in Italian high-schools, which focussed on Point 5 of the Unesco and Sustainable Development Goals. Students were asked to answer a short anonymous survey with self-anchoring scale answers, aimed to test if their perception of gender equality changed after a seminar on Woolf.
I produced an Open Access FAIR compliant dataset with the results:
Bolchi, Elisa (April 2021): ItalianWoolf project: schools workshops. University of Reading. Dataset. http://dx.doi.org/10.17864/1947.296.

WP2: Creating a database
The main output of the project is an online database collecting bibliographic information of all the articles, reviews, translations, books and book chapters published in Italy on Virginia Woolf. Every entry is provided with a set of keywords to make the entry searchable by keywords as well as by author, year, title, publisher, editor and translator.
The database is a useful research tool for Woolf scholars in Italy and abroad. It is available here: https://italianwoolf.reading.ac.uk/

WP3: Dissemination and communication

DISSEMINATION
Conferences: I participated to a total of 6 international conferences.

Article/chapter publication: I published the following articles:
- Elisa Bolchi (2020) ‘Bloomsbury writers in Italy: a comparison of the Italian publication history of E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf’. Letteratura e letterature, 14: 71-87, url: https://www.torrossa.com/it/resources/an/4633243
- Elisa Bolchi (2021) ‘Solid and Living, the Italian Woolf Renaissance’, in In: Dubino, J. et al (eds.) The Edinburgh companion to Virginia Woolf and contemporary global literature. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 183-198. ISBN 9781474448499. Url: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/pub/media/resources/9781474448482_Chapter_10.pdf
- Elisa Bolchi (2021) ‘Filling the Void: Virginia Woolf and the Feminism of Difference in Italy’, The Italianist, 41.1: 1-19, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02614340.2021.1922177
- Elisa Bolchi (2021), ‘Arnoldo Mondadori Editore’, in Modernist Archives Publishing Project, https://modernistarchives.com/business/arnoldo-mondadori-editore

Monograph: A book proposal has been accepted by the editors of the Palgrave Macmillan’s series ‘New Directions in Book History’.

Conference organisation:
- The final event was the 3-day international conference Reading Woolf in Europe.
- A one-day seminar on the Reception of Virginia Woolf in Italy will take place on 8 October 2021.
- On 29 January 2021 I held the conference Woolf e Gracian: metodi e scoperte di due studi sulla ricezione with Riva Evstifeeva, herself a MSCA fellow at Sorbonne Université: https://youtu.be/5tbaD7I1hcY.

University lectures and schools workshop
I delivered 4 lectures on invitation.

COMMUNICATION
I co-organized two editions of the literary festival dedicated to Woolf Il Faro in una stanza.
I was invited to speak at two events: by the Equal Opportunity Office of Piemonte, in Cuneo in November 2020, and by the cultural association The Arts Box in Vicenza in January 2021.
Together with the Italian Virginia Woolf Society I organised a number of events addressed to the general public during which I always spoke about my research project and my findings.

On all these occasions I presented the results of my research and I was an ambassador of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.
A proof of the impact of the project is the fact that I have been invited to be lead editor of a new Companion to Virginia Woolf and global literature which has been preliminarily accepted for publication by the Edinburgh University Press. For this volume, I put together a team of 7 editors from all over the world (Brazil, USA, Italy, France, Egypt, Turkey and Japan).
The MSCA-IF also helped me to win a tenure-track position (Rtb-B) at the University of Ferrara.
I also created a digital database which could serve as a tool for scholars worldwide.
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