Discussion Group: The Diasporic Canon

Literary canons travel across space as well as through time, thus proving to be supra-geographical, rather than simply trans-historical, entities. In this session of the OCCT Discussion Group, Marta Arnaldi explored this idea by sharing the findings of her forthcoming monograph, titled The Diasporic Canon: American Anthologies of Contemporary Italian Poetry 1945-2015 (Legenda 2022). Here she argued that the theoretical concept of diaspora presents us with a new form of canonicity, one that is built upon, and tests, our common understanding and experience of translation. In this meeting, she enriched these reflections by way of an open dialogue with the participants. She also asked whether, and to what extent, a synergetic understanding of both diaspora and translation can challenge received ideas of nationality, ethnicity, gender, genre, and authorship, and perhaps even help us surpass them.


Marta Arnaldi is an Extraordinary Junior Research Fellow in Italian at The Queen’s College, Oxford, and the Stipendiary Lecturer in Italian Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford. She has recently served as PI of two translational medical humanities projects: Translating Illness (Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund) and Translating COVID-19 (OUP-Oxford John Fell Fund). Marta is the author of an award-winning poetry collection, a former student of medicine, and a certified ballet dancer (Royal Academy of Dance).