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ASU professor advances research on water, contemporary Italian poetry


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July 09, 2020

Serena Ferrando, assistant professor of environmental humanities and Italian at Arizona State University, is the discretionary funding winner from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' 2019–20 New Assistant Professor Workshop Series drawing and will be using the funds to advance her research on the intersection of water and literature. 

Her book in progress is titled "City of Water: The Poetic Geography of Modern Milan" and offers a novel and original ecocritical-cultural narrative of the relationship between poetry and nature in the city of Milan, Italy, and three Milanese poets. Ferrando’s work shows how during the 1920s and 1930s, Milan’s embrace of progress and modernity culminated in the controversial covering of the "navigli" (canals) to create roads and how, concurrently, a strong sense of nostalgia for the now-disappeared water emerged among the citizens.

Ferrando’s research on water and contemporary Italian poetry has birthed the Navigli Project (Instagram), an eco-digital interactive map of Milan’s waterways. She also studies environmental and experimental noisescapes and curates "Noisemakers!," a multimedia project that utilizes sound mapping to create a multisensory experience of the territory that is shared by a community. Her publications span from Italian literature to ecocriticism to digital humanities.

Students can enroll in her course, “City of Water: Uncovering Milan’s Aquatic Geographies” (ITA494/SLC494/CDH594), where they will explore the cultural history of water in Milan, Italy’s self-described “city of water,” in a multimedia environment that fosters an atmosphere of creative collaboration and encourages creative design. Students will generate searchable, annotated, thick maps of Milan and disseminate them outside the classroom and will also have the opportunity to see their work featured on the Navigli Project. The course will include a guest lecture by a renowned Milanese illustrator and two Milan-based film directors.

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