Rebecca Walker

Rebecca Walker

Italian, University of St Andrews

Tenure since 2017

City Identities: Geographies of Female Embodiment in Goliarda Sapienza and Elena FerranteRebecca Walker

The city is a fundamental point of reference for studies of lived human experience. Urban networks are sites of choice and agency, making it possible to live in symbiosis with those around us, or remain almost completely anonymous. My proposed research examines how women, as a marginalised group, experience the city in the work of popular modern Italian women writers Goliarda Sapienza and Elena Ferrante. It investigates how gendered experiences of urban space impact upon questions of identity and the body, suggesting how cities can be mapped with bodies and how bodies are inscribed by their material surroundings. The project will bringing significant case studies of Sapienza and Ferrante into contact with recent developments in literary and cultural theory surrounding the material environment and the body, in order to explore fresh ways of reading the urban landscape in modern Italian women’s writing, and contribute to understandings of space and female identity-creation in the broader field of gender studies.


I graduated with first class honours in French and Italian from the University of St Andrews in 2016. During my undergraduate degree I was consistently featured on the Dean’s List, and was a recipient of the Principal’s Scholarship for Academic Excellence. In my final year I was awarded the Dudley Morgan Prize for outstanding performance in the senior honours French classes. My undergraduate dissertation on the writing of female subjectivity in the Naples-based novels of Elena Ferrante has influenced my wider research interests going forward. As such, I recently completed an MLitt in Italian Studies, also at St Andrews. At postgraduate level I have continued to develop my interest in Italian women’s writing, focussing particularly on the intersections between body, space and identity, and culminating in a dissertation on the interrelation of body and city in Elsa Morante’s La storia (1974).