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Dr Elizabeth Wren-Owens

Dr Elizabeth Wren-Owens

Dean of Postgraduate Education for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Reader in Italian and Translation Studies

School of Modern Languages

+44 (0)29 2087 6438
2.12, 66a Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS
Available for postgraduate supervision


My research interests include:

  • Translation Studies
  • World Literature
  • Twentieth-century Italian Cultural Studies
  • Constructions of regional, national, and transnational Italian identities through adaptation and translation
  • Socio-political engagement in literature and links between culture and citizenship
  • Travel writing
  • Detective fiction
  • Italian diasporic and migrant writing
  • Italians in Wales: comparative perspectives


I graduated from the University of Warwick in 2001 with a first class honours degree in French and Italian, then completed a Masters degree in Italian at Bristol (2002) and a PhD in Italian Studies at Warwick (2006), focusing on socio-political engagement in the works of Antonio Tabucchi and Leonardo Sciascia. I joined Cardiff in 2007, having taught previously at the Universities of Warwick, Bristol and Bath.

Honours and awards

  • 2010: BA overseas conference grant
  • 2009: Awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
  • 2005: Doctoral Fellowship awarded by the Warwick Humanities Research Centre to host an interdisciplinary conference, ‘Dialogue with Tradition: Contemporary Writers and Literary Heritage’
  • 2002-2005: AHRC doctoral award for PhD research
  • 2000: Bursary from the University of Milan to study at their Gargagno centre

Professional memberships

I am a member of the Society for Italian Studies, the Amici di Leonardo Sciascia, and the American Association of Italian Studies. I peer review scholarly articles for a number of journals, and also review books.

I am on the editorial board for the Todomodo, the international journal of Sciascia Studies.

I am external examiner at Lancaster (UG) and Warwick (PG).

Speaking engagements

  • July 2012: ‘Translating cultures: Italian identity in Triple Languages in Wales and Canada’, at the SIS interim conference, Transnational Italy: National Identity and the World Atlas, at the University of Reading, UK
  • April 2008: ‘Constructing Italian Identity: The (Native) American Contact Zone’, at RMMEC inaugural event, Cardiff
  • Jan 2006: ‘Tabucchi’s Pessoa: A Legacy Repaid?’, at ‘Fictional Representations of Fernando Pessoa’, University of Leeds
  • Dec 2006: ‘Racism and the Other in Sandro Onofri’s Writing’, at the Birmingham-Warwick seminar series
  • July 2011: ‘The emergence of Welsh Italian narrative, or the commodification of nostalgia’, at SIS biennial conference, St Andrews
  • May 2011: ‘Integrated or repressed Identity? Welsh Italian narrative in international contexts’, at ‘Within and Without: Representing Diasporas in Europe (Cardiff, UK)
  • April 2010: ‘Introducing, Authenticating, Authorizing: The Role of the Introductory Voice in Migrant Writing by Italians and Migrants into Italy’, at AAIS annual conference, Michigan
  • May 2008: ‘Between Far Right and Traditional Left: Sandro Onofri as Engaged Intellectual’, at AAIS annual conference, Taormina (Sicily)
  • March 2006: ‘From Powerless to Power Brokers: The Shifting Representation of the popolo in Antonio Tabucchi’s Piazza d’Italia (1975) and Il piccolo naviglio (1978), presented at the University of Salford, UK
  • Dec. 2005: ‘Portuguese Empire as Hybrid Host: Antonio Tabucchi’s Postcolonial Writings’,   presented at ‘Scontro/Incontro: The Hybrid Experience of Italy and its Colonies’, presented at The Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, London.
  • July 2005: ‘The Shifting Constructs of Sciascia’s Sicily’, presented at the Society for Italian Studies Biennial conference, University of Salford, UK
  • Feb. 2005: ‘Dialogue with the Past and the Self in the Works of Antonio Tabucchi’, presented at the ‘Dialogue with Tradition: Contemporary Writers and Literary Heritage’ Conference at the University of Warwick, UK.
  • Oct 2004: ‘A Microscopic Change? Microhistory and Conceptual Historical Space in Sciascia’s Later Historical Texts’ presented at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
  • May 2004: ‘Geographical and Psychological Space in Sciascia’s Work’ presented at the University of Warwick Italian Department Postgraduate Forum.
  • April 2004: ‘Ghostly and Real Bodies in Tabucchi: From Dissatisfaction to Resolution’ presented at the Society for Italian Studies Conference in London.
  • March 2004: ‘The Tools of the Detective: Leonardo Sciascia’s Approach to Literature in the Mid to Late 1970s’ presented at the University of Utrecht, Holland.
  • May 2003: ‘Engagement through Geographical and Border Spaces in Tabucchi’s Work’ presented at the Society for Italian Studies Postgraduate Colloquium at Edinburgh University.














At Cardiff  I contrbute to teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level. My modules include courses on Italian migration, Italian culture and representation, and translation. I also run a student teaching module for final-year languages students, which combines pedagogical training with mentored teaching placements in local schools.

I am able to supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research projects in the following areas:

  • Twentieth Century Italian narrative
  • Translation
  • Construction of regional, national and transnational identities in literature, translation and adaptation
  • Migrant identities and narrative
  • Concepts of socio-political engagement in literature
  • Italian travel writing
  • Italian detective fiction

My research focusses on Translation Studies and Italian Cultural Studies.

My current research explores the way that Sicily and Sicilianness have been constructed for readers and spectators in Italy and the Anglophone world. Sicily is particularly resonant in a transnational context as a space which has been imagined, constructed, and othered from Italian Unification onwards. The interdisciplinary approach, spanning Italian Studies, Translation Studies, and Adaptation Studies, will inform an examination of translations, and film and television adaptations, of works by canonical Sicilian writers, from the nineteenth century to the present day, to uncover how the regional is translated into national and transnational contexts.

My 2018 monograph In, on, and through translation: Tabucchi's travelling texts (Peter Lang) combines an analysis of the ways the Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi's texts have been translated into other languages with an examination of the way his translations, critical essays and fictions reflect on the value and possibilities of translation. The book suggests that using translation as a means through which to approach Tabucchi’s works enables us to both develop new perspectives on Tabucchi’s texts, and to reflect on some key issues in translation studies. One of its major innovations is the analysis of a new body of interviews with Tabucchi’s translators, from across Europe, Asia, and America. The interviews, conducted as part of the study, offer fascinating new perspectives on the way the same (often Eurocentric) texts move between languages, and the possibilities and challenges the translation process offers in different linguistic and cultural spaces.

I also research the Italian community in Wales, in particular the way in which this diasporic narrative has developed in relation to other Italian migrant narratives. I have published on Italian Welsh narrative and café culture, on first-wave Italian American and African Italian autobiographies, on Sandro Onofri and the Italian Left’s response to racial violence in Italy, and on Tabucchi’s response to Pessoa. Previous publications have addressed socio-political engagement in Italian literature, particularly in the work of Sciascia and Tabucchi, representations of empire in Tabucchi, Italian detective fiction and the usefulness of Lacan’s notion of the real in understanding Tabucchi’s texts.


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Translation Studies and Adaptation Studies
  • Twentieth-century Italian narrative
  • The construction of transnational, national and regional identities
  • Migrant identities and narrative
  • Concepts of socio-political engagement in literature
  • Italian travel writing
  • Italian detective fiction

Past projects

I am currently supervising doctoral and postdoctoral projects on orality and written narrative in Italian migrant culture and on transnational Italian Studies.

PhDs supervised to completion:

Mirona Moraru (2016): Bourdieu, multilingualism, and immigration: Understanding how second-generation multilingual immigrants reproduce linguistic practices with non-autochthonous minority languages in Cardiff, Wales

Fenik Ghafur (2016): Ideological mediation in the translation of geopolitical texts: an English-Kurdish case-study.