Elena Bellina

Assistant Professor of Italian



Elena Bellina is completing a Ph.D. dissertation at New York University on autobiographical writing in confinement, focusing on unpublished diaries and memoirs written by Italian prisoners of war in British military camps in Africa during WWII. Her areas of expertise include autobiographical writing, modern and contemporary Italian literature, poetry, literary theory and criticism, and gender studies. She owns an MA in English from Youngstown State University and a laurea in Foreign Languages and Literatures from the University of Bergamo (Italy). She has always been passionate about music, and earned degrees from the Conservatory of Music of Verona (Italy). During her years at the University of Bergamo, she developed an interdisciplinary approach to literature, musical semiotics and self-construction. She has continued to explore the relationships between Renaissance and Baroque music, literature, and cinema over the years. She also works on issues related to the representation of violence, war literature and documentary films.

She is strongly committed to teaching and has developed consistent experience, underscored by a solid pedagogical background in second-language acquisition in Italy and in the US. Her interdisciplinary background and training in literature and music, combined with her dynamic approach and scholarship, has led her to develop language courses based on Italian music and culture. She has always been interested in investigating the way people recount their lives and the epistemic problems that life telling involves. This interest took her to South America in 2004 to shoot a documentary film on the lives of three Italian men who have played a central role in the socio-political development of Bolivia in the last fifty years.

In 2009-2010, as a fellow at the Humanities Initiative at NYU she organized Thinking Through Violence: An Interdisciplinary Conversation, a roundtable with some of the major experts in the field of the theory of violence followed by Poetry, Violence, and War: An Interdisciplinary Discussion on poetry and war in different cultures. She also organized a two-day conference on Ambience in the Humanities: Translating New Surroundings into New Poetics devoted to the analysis of how the materials that create particular ambiences do not merely inform the artistic creative process but literally form it, with scholars in literature, music, poets and visual artists.

Works / Publications



Edited Books

Elena Bellina, Lindsay Eufusia and Paola Ugolini (eds.) About Face: Depicting the Self in the Written and Visual Arts. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.

Elena Bellina and Paola Bonifazio (eds.) State of Exception: Cultural Responses to the Rhetoric of Fear, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006.


Book Chapters, Journal Articles and Translations

With Martin Daughtry, Crystal Parikh, Arvind Rajagopal (eds.) “Thinking Through Violence.” Social Text (May 2011, online edition).

“Sinan Antoon. Lessico di un poeta iracheno fra Baghdad e New York.” Poesia: Mensile internazionale di cultura poetica 264 (October 2011): 40-44.

Sinan Antoon. “The Baghdad Blues e altri inediti.” Translated by Elena Bellina. Poesia: Mensile internazionale di cultura poetica 264 (October 2011): 44-52.

“Introduction.” In Elena Bellina, Lindsay Eufusia and Paola Ugolini (eds.) About Face: Depicting the Self in the Written and Visual Arts. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. 1-11.

“Introduction.” In Elena Bellina and Paola Bonifazio (eds.) State of Exception: Cultural Responses to the Rhetoric of Fear, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006. v-xi.

“Letti da lontano. La Frantumaglia di Elena Ferrante.” La Rivista dei libri (The New York Review of Books, Italian edition), May 2005: 31-34.

“Il clarinetto postmoderno di Thea Musgrave e il movimento narrativo in The Passion of New Eve.” [“The Postmodern Clarinet of Thea Musgrave and the Narrative Movement in The Passion of New Eve.”] Il Confronto Letterario  XVI.31  (May 1999): 231-50.



Associate Director, New York University Summer Program in Florence (Italy).

Responsibilities include: coordinate admissions, student participants, facilities, transportation, finances and academic activities including advising  students on academic and life abroad issues, planning and organizing excursions and cultural visits, film screenings, conferences and orientation.

Documentary Film Ciudad de los niños (Bolivia) 87 minutes

Producer, writer, researcher.
It is a documentary film on the socio-political problems of Bolivia, particularly on the problem of abandoned and abused children in the region of Cochabamba (Bolivia) and the rehabilitating foster houses built and run by three Italian priests who have had a central role in Bolivian socio-political life since 1957. The documentary was shown at several international documentary festivals, where it received positive reviews.

New customized edition of the documentary film Ciudad de los niños (Bolivia) in honor of one the founders of the foster centers in Bolivia who passed away in February 2006.



IT 101 / 102: Elementary Italian

This two-semester sequence is an introduction to Italian language with an emphasis on all four skills—speaking, reading, writing, listening comprehension—for students with no previous knowledge of the language. The course will focus on building a basic vocabulary, grammar structures and syntax. Students with prior study of Italian must contact the instructor for a placement test.

IT 101G / 102G: Elementary Italian

Same two-semester sequence as IT 101 and IT 102 with a separate “G” designation for graduate students who may take it for one credit.

 IT 115: Italian Lyric Diction

This first diction course provides students with theoretical and applied knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet—an indispensable tool for their future careers and their future diction courses. Students learn how to apply IPA to the study of Italian Diction through a progressive method based on Italian reading and scioglilingua. They learn how to master proper Italian vowels, consonant clusters, and intonation in prose and poetry through written and oral assignments. This course is not a vocal performing course, but a comprehensive course focused on Italian Diction.

 IT 201 / 202: Intermediate Italian

This is a two-semester sequence that reinforces and systematizes Italian grammar and syntax. The courses aim at an intensive review of elementary grammatical structures and the study of grammar exceptions, at lexical enrichment through special uses of language, and at the improvement of speaking and writing ability. Students will be exposed to a variety of genres (literature, poetry, comics, films, newsreels, documentaries, music blogs) to better grasp language through cultural material. Prerequisite IT102 or equivalent.

IT 2011G / 202G: Intermediate Italian

Same two-semester sequence as IT 111 and IT 112 with a separate “G” designation for graduate students who may take it for one credit.

 FS224 / IT 282: Introduction to Italian Cinema

Course designed to provide an overview of Italian cinema from Cabiria (1914) by Giovanni Pastrone, to the present. The course will explore early Italian cinema from the 1910s -1930s, Fascist cinema, Neorealism, and movies from the 1960s to the beginning of the twenty-first century to examine the role played by cinema in building Italian history and culture. We will examine, among others, films by Giovanni Pastrone, Carmine Gallone, Roberto de Sica, Giuseppe De Santis, Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ettore Scola, Ermanno Olmi, Marco Bellocchio, Gianni Amelio, Marco Tullio Giordana. Films will be in Italian with English subtitles. All readings and class discussions will be in English. No previous knowledge of Italian language/culture is necessary.

IT281Conversations in Italian

Advanced Italian course designed to improve students speaking and writing skills. The course aims at an intense review of Italian grammar, syntax, and vocabulary through a full immersion journey in contemporary Italian culture in Italy and in the US. Students will develop their language skills while reading blogs, newspapers articles, novels, watching Italian TV shows and documentaries, travelling through the Italian peninsula and the US with journalist Beppe Severgnini’s video journal. Students should have completed two or more semesters of college level Italian courses.