Beatrice Sica

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Cultural Studies
Reader (= Associate Professor) in Italian Studies at University College London

Research project

Italian Cavalrymen and Knights in the Age of Machines. Myths and Images of Men on Horses in 20th-Century Italy


This project considers men on horses in the Italian literary and visual culture of the 20th century and looks at how the myths and images of cavalrymen and knights were received, transmitted, transformed, appropriated and readapted by single authors and artists, cultural movements, and political powers.


For centuries before WWI, knights and cavalrymen were the base of warfare; as such, they had a recognized, prominent role in European societies and cultures, until WWI and trench warfare decreed once and for all that men on horses had become useless in modern conflicts. I am interested in looking beyond WWI, at what remained of the myths of cavalrymen and knights in 20th-century Italy.


The research combines literature, arts, cinema, political, military and cultural history, and cultural memory studies. It is informed by and seeks an answer to the following questions: how were cavalrymen and knights portrayed in Italian literature, arts, newspapers, journals, artworks, comics, animations, and films? How did their images travel across media and art forms and to what extent did literary and visual traditions from previous centuries (e.g. Ludovico Ariosto’s chivalry romance Orlando furioso and Italian Renaissance portraits and statues) influence their new 20th-century designs? And, very importantly, what ideology did these images seek to express?


The project aims to explore the influences that literature and art have on the public sphere for the construction of a shared national cultural memory as well as the influence of media and public discourses on the work of writers and artists. It will trace a history of cultural reception in three main phases: the years around WWI, the interwar years, and the post-WWII period. Ultimately the research aims to reflect on the use of iconic images for the creation of a shared cultural memory and on the re-uses of the past for different ideological purposes.





Beatrice Sica is Reader in Italian Studies at University College London. She was educated in Italy, the US, and France. She holds a B.A. from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, a M.A. and a Ph.D in Italian Studies from New York University. Originally trained in literary history, philology and textual analysis, lately she has explored other areas, such as fine arts, cinema, and cultural history and memory. Beatrice is the author of two books as well as other essays on futurism, surrealism, and magical realism; literature, ideology, and the arts during Fascism; and Franco-Italian cultural exchanges in the interwar period. Her research focuses on twentieth-century Italian culture in a European context.



Selected publications


'Chi ha paura del fantastico femminile?', Bollettino ’900. Electronic Journal of ’900 Italian Literature. [Forthcoming]


'Italo Calvino prima e dopo la guerra: il fascismo, Ariosto e l’uomo a cavallo', in N. Turi (ed.), Raccontare la guerra. I conflitti bellici e la modernità, Firenze University Press, Florence, 2017, pp. 127-152.


'Parigi 1929-1932 e oltre', in B. Manetti (ed.), Paola Masino, Scrittrici e intellettuali del Novecento, Fondazione Arnoldo e Alberto Mondadori, Milan, 2016, pp. 109-133.


'Le sigarette di Bontempelli, neosofista tra Croce e Savinio', in A. Dolfi (ed.), Il racconto e il romanzo filosofico nella modernità, Firenze University Press, Florence, 2013, pp. 135-156.


L’Italia magica di Gianfranco Contini. Storia e interpretazione, Bulzoni, Roma, 2013.




junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline Philosophy
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline Anthropology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline Computer Science and Engineering
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Istituto di Studi Avanzati
discipline Social Anthropology