Anna Botta

Professor of Italian Studies and of Comparative Literature

Anna Botta

Contact & Office Hours

Wright Hall 219



Ph.D., M.A., University of Pennsylvania

M.A., Laurea, Università di Torino


Anna Botta’s academic training began at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and continued at the University of Turin, Italy. She subsequently studied in France, England and the Netherlands before moving to the United States, where she received a doctorate in comparative literature and literary theory from the University of Pennsylvania. At Smith, she shuttles between the Department of Italian Studies and the Comparative Literature Program, with forays into Film and Media Studies.

Botta’s areas of research and teaching are contemporary literary theory, modern and postmodern literatures, and Italian literature and cinema in a transnational perspective. At Smith, she teaches cross-cultural courses that challenge students to question disciplinary boundaries and representations of identities. Her comparative literature senior seminar “Cosmopolitanisms” interrogates the viability of this term in today’s world, dismissing the singular “cosmopolitanism” as a form of Eurocentric universalism and focusing instead on transnational experiences, both elite and subaltern, Western and non-Western. Her cinema course, Italian Cinema Looks East, analyzes changing cultural perceptions about China and how ideological assumptions manipulate cinematic production and experiences by examining Italian films made in China and, more recently, films made in Italy about Chinese immigrants.

Her current book project, tentatively titled Solid Mediterraneans, builds on previously published articles and the special issue “Mediterraneans” that she co-edited for the Massachusetts Review in 2014. Botta conceives today’s Mediterranean as a discursive space for the study of local cultures beyond nationalism, colonialism, orientalism and politics of identity. Her work shows how, in spite of the ease of communication brought about by globalization, the Mediterranean is today a hard and solid space, plowed by precise routes—such as tourism and immigration—which depend on each other yet rarely meet. 

In addition to the special issue for the Massachusetts Review (Winter 2014), Botta has edited two volumes of essays: Italo Calvino newyorkese (Avagliano, 2002) and Scrittrici eccentriche (Tre lune, 2003). She has published articles on Italo Calvino, Cristina Campo, Gianni Celati, Luigi Ghirri, Antonio Tabucchi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Renato Poggioli, Georges Didi-Huberman, Julia Kristeva, Georges Perec, Patrick Modiano and Predrag Matvejević in journals such as Modern Language Notes, Italian Culture, California Italian Studies Journal, Contemporary Literature and Spunti e parole, as well as in various volumes of critical essays. Her most recent articles in visual studies include a study of Luigi Ghirri’s photography and a cinematic analysis of Roberto Rossellini’s Stromboli.

Selected Publications

Anna Botta and Michel Moushabeck, eds. “Mediterraneans.” Massachusetts Review 55.4 (Winter 2014). 527–728.

“Matvejević’s Mediterranean Breviary: Nostalgia for an Ex-World, or Breviary for a New Community?” In California Studies Journal 1 (1). Special issue “Italy and Mediterranean Studies,” edited by Claudio Fogu and Lucia Re (2009).

“Pain sans frontières: l’identité méditerranéenne dans l’œuvre de Predrag Matvejević,” In Le Silence et la parole au lendemain des guerres yougoslaves, edited by Lauren Lydic et Bertrand Westphal. Limoges: Presses universitaires de Limoges, 2015. 113–129.

 “Open Encyclopedias: Teaching Italo Calvino’s Works from a Comparative Perspective,” In Approaches to Teaching the Works of Italo Calvino, edited by Franco Ricci. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2013. 42–49.

“Renato Poggioli and the Byzantine Origins of Comparative Literature,” in Renato Poggioli: An Intellectual Biography, edited by Roberto Ludovico, Lino Pertile and Massimo Riva. Introduction by Roberto Ludovico. Firenze: Olschki, 2012. 145­–161.

Anna Botta, Monica Farnetti, Giorgio Rimondi, eds., Le eccentriche. Scrittrici del Novecento. Mantova: Tre Lune, 2003.

Anna Botta and Domenico Scarpa, eds., Calvino newyorkese. Salerno: Avagliano, 2002.