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Laura Wittman

People

Contact:

101 Pigott Hall
650 725 5243
lwittman@stanford.edu

Office Hours:

For summer 2018, by appointment; please email me.

Affinity links:

hermetic poetry
experimental novels
d’Annunzio
Valéry
women mystics
secularization
religion
cinema
Symbolist poetry
Nietzsche
poetry and poetics
literary theory
philosophical literature
philosophy
history of medicine
health humanities
narrative medicine
20th century
19th century

Laura Wittman

Associate Professor of French and Italian

Chair of Graduate Studies, DLCL

Chair of Graduate Studies, Italian and Joint French and Italian PhDs

Chair, DLCL Collaborative Teaching Project

Chair, C-RUM

Steering Committee, Medicine and the Muse

 

Laura Wittman primarily works on 19th- and 20th-century Italian and French literature from a comparative perspective. She is interested in how modernity articulates new relationships between religious experience, embodiment, mortality, health, and politics, and how these are mediated by literary and artistic creations.

Her book, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Modern Mourning, and the Reinvention of the Mystical Body (University of Toronto Press, 2011) was awarded the Marraro Award of the Society for Italian Historical Studies for 2012. It explores the creation and reception of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – an Italian, French, and British invention at the end of the First World War – as an emblem for modern mourning, from a cultural, historical, and literary perspective. It draws on literary and filmic evocations of the Unknown Soldier, as well as archival materials, to show that Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is not pro-war, nationalist, or even proto-Fascist. Rather, it is a monument that heals trauma in two ways: first, it refuses facile consolations, and forcefully dramatizes the fact that suffering cannot be spiritualized or justified by any ideology; second, it rejects despair by enacting, through the concreteness of a particular body, a human solidarity in suffering that commands respect. Anticipating recent analyses of PTSD, the Memorial shows that when traumatic events are relived in a ritual, embodied, empathetic setting, healing occurs not via analysis but via symbolic communication and transmission of emotion.

Laura Wittman is the editor of a special issue of the Romanic Review entitled Italy and France: Imagined Geographies (2006), as well as the co-editor of an anthology of Futurist manifestos and literary works, Futurism: An Anthology (Yale University Press, 2009). She has published articles on d’Annunzio, Marinetti, Fogazzaro, Ungaretti, Montale, Sereni, and Merini, as well as on decadent-era culture and Italian cinema. With Jon Snyder and Simonetta Falasca Zamponi, she recently co-edited a special issue of California Italian Studies on "The Sacred in Italian Culture" (2015).

She received her Ph.D. in 2001 from Yale University where she wrote a dissertation entitled "Mystics Without God: Spirituality and Form in Italian and French Modernism," an analysis of the historical and intellectual context for the self-descriptive use of the term "mystic without God" in the works of Gabriele d'Annununzio and Paul Valéry.

In Spring 2009, she was organizer of the California Interdisciplinary Consortium for Italian Studies (CICIS) Annual Conference, held at the Stanford Humanities Center; she is currently the organizer of the upcoming CICIS 2019 conference, also to be held at the Stanford Humanities Center. She was also organizer of the interdisciplinary conference on Language, Literature, and Mysticism held at the Stanford Humanities Center on 15 and 16 October 2010.

She is currently working on a new book entitled Lazarus' Silence that explores visions of the afterlife and visits to the underworld in modern literature and culture, as a window toward our changing attitudes toward death, accepting our mortality, and accompanying the dying. 

 

 

Education

2001: Ph.D., Department of Italian Language and Literature, Yale University
1991: B.A., Yale University, Summa cum Laude, double major in French (with Distinction) and Italian (with Exceptional Distinction)
1986: French Baccalaureate, Lycée Français de Washington (Washington, D. C.), with honors

COURSES

FRENCH 199 Individual Work
FRENCH 399 Individual Work
FRENCH 802 TGR Dissertation
ITALIAN 155 The Mafia in Society, Film, and Fiction
ITALIAN 199 Individual Work
ITALIAN 399 Individual Work
ITALIAN 802 TGR Dissertation