Serena Ferrando

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I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Italian Studies at Stanford University specializing in contemporary Italian poetry. I have an MA in American Studies and an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas at Austin.

My dissertation is an innovative cultural history of Milan’s legendary canals, which are now mostly paved over, but retain immense symbolic power for the city’s inhabitants. Adopting an ecocritical perspective, which is very rare in the field of Italian Studies, allows me to observe how three contemporary Italian poets have played a part in the development of urban plans to restore the canals by fostering the citizens’ visceral bond with water and saturating the memory of the canals with nostalgia. I claim that water, in today’s Milan, represents the most viable and eco-conscious way of reconciling nature and city environment.

My book project is to turn my dissertation into a cultural history that illustrates Milan’s long ‘aquatic’ history and how it is reflected and advocated by the poetry of Merini, Menicanti and De Angelis. I am also interested in the digital mapping of Milan’s cultural history of water in the style of in order to provide students and other researchers with a visual support and an interactive tool to learn and discover the city’s landscape. This project would include several layers of history, politics, literature, architecture and geography to show all the different factors that throughout the centuries have determined the geography of Milan today.

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