skip to content


Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Mara Josi

(c) The University of Cambridge
PhD Candidate
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
(+44) (0)1223 338305

Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Raised Faculty Building
University of Cambridge
Sidgwick Avenue
United Kingdom


I received my BA (2014) and MA cum laude (2016) in Comparative Literature from Università degli Studi di Torino where I specialised in Italian, Anglo-American and French literatures. My MA thesis was on Elsa Morante’s Jewish identity and it explored how her Jewish roots have been re-elaborated in Morante’s poetics. Its title is Verso la terra delle madri: l’ebraismo atavico di Elsa Morante.

Since October 2017, I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge. My project is about the literary representation of an event of the Second World War. I work with Professor Robert Gordon.

My broader interests mostly lie in the relationship between literature and history, in Holocaust and Cultural Memories Studies.

Research interests: 

My Ph.D. research analyses how some literary works have transmitted into cultural memory the episode of the round-up perpetrated by the Nazis on 16 October 1943 in Rome. I reflect on the bond literature has with history and memory and I examine the memory of this event.

Literature may store and transmit knowledge, as well as transform it into an element of artistic texts. It creates images which are part of the procedures of recollection and remembering. Literary representations and transmissions of 16 October 1943 into cultural memory are the core of this project. For the purposes of this thesis, I look at four literary texts where the Roman round-up has been described: Giacomo Debenedetti’s 16 ottobre 1943 (1944), Elsa Morante’s La Storia (1974), Rosetta Loy’s La parola ebreo (1998) and Anna Foa’s Portico d’Ottavia 13 (2013). I consider the socio-cultural context of the years in which these books were published, and I map changes and developments in Italian cultural memory during the last seventy years.

 ‘Verso la terra delle madri: l’ebraismo atavico di Elsa Morante’, Spazi900: letture, incontri, confronti. Elsa Morante: lavori in corso, Rome, 9 May 2016.

‘The Roman Round-up: Remembering & Recollecting 16 October 1943’, Rome Modern Italy Seminar, Rome, 14 May 2019.

‘Giacomo Debenedetti’s 16 ottobre 1943: a bearer of historical awareness’, History and Literature – An Uneasy Kinship, A.P.I. International Conference XV, Siracusa, 2 - 5 July 2019.