Professional and Biographical Information

Submitted by Francesca Bellei on Tuesday, 4/9/2024, at 4:32 PM


Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Harvard University (2022)
M.Litt., Creative Writing, University of St Andrews (2016)
B.A. Classics, University of Cambridge (2014)

Research Interests

The central concern of my work is how literary and visual narratives shape the socio-political realities people live in, with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean on the one hand, and modern Italy, Britain and the US on the other. More specifically, I investigate fictions which center the elaboration of identity (in terms of nationality, gender, race and class) around the appropriation and re-elaboration of the “classical” cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. These topics are central to my current book project, The Past Is A Womanly Land: The Mediterranean Origins of Anglo-American Hegemony, forthcoming with Harvard University Press.

The main theoretical underpinnings of my work come from feminist, queer, and trans theory, post- and de-colonial studies, critical theories of race and ethnicity, Marxist criticism, psychoanalysis, and cultural studies. As a comparatist, I am very invested in transnational and transhistorical work, which has led me to develop an interest in histories of migration and the relationship between multilingualism and translation.


Book Project
The Past Is a Womanly Land: The Mediterranean Origins of Anglo-American Hegemony (forthcoming, Harvard University Press)

Peer-reviewed Articles and Book Chapters
Donna or Domina? Manipulating Italia’s gender from ancient Rome to 19th-century Italian colonialism.” AIRF (forthcoming)
“The nose at the crossroads: an intersectional reading of the pseudo-Vergilian Moretum”. TAPA: Race and Racism Beyond the Spectacular (forthcoming in 2024)
Omnibus umbra locis adero: Elena Ferrante and the Poetics of Absence”. In T. Geue and E. Giusti (eds.) Unspoken Rome: Absence in Latin Literature and its Reception, Cambridge University Press (2021) 
Bilingual Mistranslations: Plautus, Lorenzo Da Ponte and Guillermo Cabrera Infante”. In Comparative Literature Studies, 57.1 (2020)

Teaching Interests

Ancient Mediterranean studies, comparative literature, transnational Italian studies, English and American literature (19th-21st c.), ethnicity and migration studies, feminist theory, gender studies, queer theory, cultural studies, postcolonial studies.

At Amherst College, I will be teaching a 400-level course entitled "Queer Antiquities: Global Perspectives," which is cross-listed with the Sexuality, Women and Gender Studies Department (Fall 2024).

Teaching Philosophy

A great classroom should feel like a community, which to me means creating an equitable space where students learn not just from the instructor but from each other, and where our diverse life and learning experiences are honored as equally important  to the collective. It is also a space where we challenge each other to try new things, to listen more deeply, to take the lead. The goal for students is to develop their own voice as thinkers, writers and creators, learn to make mistakes, receive critical feedback—and create anyways. It is a space connected to the world outside the classroom, where work is structured around life and not vice versa, but also one that invites students to achieve things that they wouldn’t have thought possible. No classroom is ever the “ideal” classroom (nor should it be), but here are some of the things I do or have done in the past to achieve these goals:

•    Co-creating inclusive discussion guidelines with my students at the beginning of each class, so that students can take an active part in shaping the classroom climate. 
•    Providing all classroom materials and texts for free and ensuring that as wide a range of identities, media and assessment formats are represented in every syllabus. 
•    Creating a trauma-informed and accessible classroom, meaning that I think about when and how to engage with sensitive material, and I am happy to provide and advocate for many different kinds of extensions and accommodations.

I am also an ESL speaker, editor and translator with a background in creative writing and years of language teaching experience in different countries, which means that: I love teaching writing skills while centering the students’ vision for essays, particularly to other ESL speakers, and I welcome the presence of multiple languages in the classroom. I frequently incorporate peer-led writing workshops and creative assignments (past projects have included a true-crime podcast inspired by Mona Awad’s novel Bunny, a recorded interview series with BIPOC, queer and women writers, and a poetry chapbook in the style of The Handmaid’s Tale) alongside teaching  advanced academic skills like archival research. I welcome proposals for collaborative projects, and will work with individual students alongside Amherst librarians, curators and staff to help them take their learning beyond the classroom, whether their goal is to give a talk, get their writing published, create an exhibition or work with local communities.

At Harvard, I was also a Tutorial Board Member in the Comparative Literature Department, where I advised senior theses, and helped students develop personal research projects and reading lists. I would be delighted to talk with any Amherst or Five College student interested in one-to-one advising.

Courses Taught

Elementary Italian (UMass Amherst, sole instructor)
Feminists Against Women: The Politics of Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism; Food Sovereignty: Agriculture, Imperialism, and Climate Change; Strangers to Ourselves: An Introduction to Freud (Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, second faculty) 
Modern Women Writers, Homer’s Iliad, The Ancient Greek Hero, Humanities 10 (Harvard University, Teaching Fellow)
Creative Writing Workshop (University of St Andrews, curriculum co-designer and instructor)

Awards and Fellowships

Research Associate, Five College Women's Studies Research Center, 2025
Center for Humanistic Inquiry Postdoctoral Fellowship, Amherst College, 2023-2025
Barbara McManus Prize, Women’s Classical Caucus, 2022
I. H. Levin Scholarship Fund, Harvard University, 2016 & 2022
Erich S. Gruen Prize (honorable mention), Society for Classical Studies, 2021
3 Certificates of Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University, 2020–21
Francis Jones Graduate Fellowship, Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University, 2020
Krupp Foundation Research Fellowship, Center for European Studies, Harvard University, 2019
Merit Research Fellowship, Harvard University (declined), 2019
A. Owen Aldridge Prize, American Comparative Literature Association, 2018
Luisa Vidal de Villasante Prize, Harvard University, 2018 
Dean’s List for academic excellence, University of St Andrews, 2016
Teaching Development Fund, University of St Andrews, 2015
John Stewart of Rannoch Scholarship, University of Cambridge, 2013
Henry Arthur Thomas Book Prize, University of Cambridge, 2013
Master’s Prize, University of Cambridge, 2013