The Ruins of War: Conflict, Wounds, and the Destruction of Space in Aldo Palazzeschi’s Florence

When and Where

Thursday, March 31, 2022 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Online via Zoom - see event description for further information


Silvia Ross, Goggio Visiting Professor


This talk examines Florentine writer Aldo Palazzeschi’s portrayal of his native city as a ruin in the aftermath of World War II in two of his lesser-known and little-studied post-war writings: “Il paesaggio” (‘Landscape’, 1947) and “Ho sognato Firenze” (‘I dreamt of Florence’, 1948). My analysis will explore how his depiction of the physical remains of a traumatized Florence relies heavily on an anthropomorphic, indeed corporeal, representation of place. Juggling between a ‘(neo)realist’ portrayal of the ruins of war, and a ‘fantasy’ vision of reconstruction, Palazzeschi portrays the Tuscan capital as poised to re-emerge from the detritus of conflict. The author’s depiction of Florence, which relies on the powerful metaphor of a wounded cityscape, carefully avoids, however, the question of moral responsibility in the aftermath of the global conflict.

Silvia Ross (BA U of Toronto; MA, PhD Johns Hopkins University) is Senior Lecturer (equiv. to Associate Professor) and former Head (2018-2021) of the Department of Italian, University College Cork, and was Associate Dean and Head of the Graduate School of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences from 2011 to 2013. Her research concentrates on the representation of space in modern and contemporary literature, the subject of her monograph, Tuscan Spaces: Literary Constructions of Place (U of Toronto P, 2010) and of her current research project entitled Subverted Sites: Textual Representations of Conflict in Tuscany. Her research areas also include Italian women writers, travel writing, ecocriticism and ecofeminism, and questions of conflict, identity and alterity and the text. She has co-edited the special issue of Annali d’Italianistica on ‘Urban Space and the Body’ (2019), and the volumes Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Italian Urban Space (DIDA Press, 2019); Rappresentare la violenza di genere. Sguardi femministi tra critica, attivismo e scrittura (Mimesis, 2018); Identity and Conflict in Tuscany (Firenze University Press, 2015); Mediterranean Travels: Writing Self and Other from the Ancient World to Contemporary Society (Legenda, 2011) and Gendered Contexts: New Perspectives in Italian Cultural Studies (Peter Lang, 1996). She is currently Senior Co-Editor of the journal Italian Studies (for post-1700 submissions). For more information see:

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All times stated in Eastern time.

Contact Information


Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies - University of Toronto