We would like to draw your attention to the following proposed edited volume provisionally titled: England and Italy: Cultural Exchange and Cross-Cultural Encounters, c.1840–c.1920 to be published with Manchester University Press who have expressed interest in publishing the collection.

The Scope of the Project

Italy has long held a special place in the British cultural imagination. In the 18th century the sons of the rich undertook their continental ‘Grand Tours’ and finished their education by studying the art and architecture of Ancient Rome. Italian opera flourished in England until the early 19th century. Italy was seen as one of the cradles of civilization.

However, less is known about British perceptions of Italy and the Italians, and Italians’ perceptions of the British, in mid-to-late nineteenth century popular culture. This is somewhat paradoxical because it was in this period that the UK government actively intervened in Italian affairs, particularly with regard to Italian Unification. Whereas many English-language histories of the Risorgimento have been published by, among others, Lucy Riall, the only focused study on the cultural interactions between the British and Italians Maura O’Connor’s The Romance of Italy and the English political Imagination (1998). O’Connor’s fine work, however, covered the cultural history of Italian-English exchange between c.1800 and c.1860. Indeed, when it comes to histories of British-Italian cultural exchange, Romanticism predominates.

Relations between Britain and the nascent unified Kingdom of Italy at the level of high politics was the focus of Derek Beales’s England and Italy (1961) but there was little focus on culture. While there are other Italian-language monographs on perceptions of post-1860 perceptions of Italy, these have not yet been translated into English and do not examine an exclusively Italian-British perspective. The proposed collection of essays therefore seeks to remedy this gap in knowledge by bringing together historians, literary critics, and linguists, and asking: how did the Victorians ‘encounter’ Italians and Italian culture and politics, and vice-versa, in the period immediately preceding the Unification of Italy in 1860 and up to the rise of fascism in the early 20th century?

The editors therefore seek c.8,000 word English-language essays on subjects including but not limited to the following:

To get involved: send a 400 word abstract and 100 word biography, in English, in a single word document, to the editors: BASDEOS@Richmond.ac.uk and jacopo.pili.sc@gmail.com by 30 October 2020. Fully written chapters, formatted according to Chicago style, will be expected by 1 October 2021.

The editors

Jacopo Pili is a historian who is interested in the history of Italy, specifically the cultural and military history of the fascist era. He has published on Italian military attachés in western Europe, on Italian espionage in Yugoslavia and on the Regia Aeronautica’s intervention in Spain. He is currently writing a monograph on the image of Great Britain in fascist Italy. Jacopo will be contributing a chapter examining the Italian military perception of Britain as a Great Power between c.1890 and 1914.

Stephen Basdeo is a historian who is interested in all aspects of Victorian social and cultural history, although his research has led him to a few areas of focus: he has previously published books and articles on portrayals of working-class heroes in the Victorian radical press. He is currently writing a monograph provisionally titled “G.W.M. Reynolds: Red Republican. Stephen will be contributing a paper on the fictitious Italian state of Castelcicala as depicted in Reynolds’s novel The Mysteries of London (1844–48)”—the biggest-selling novel of the Victorian era.

Last modified 12 July 2020