Hanna Serkowska, born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1961. Ph.D. from Rutgers University, New Jersey. Assistant Professor at the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Warsaw.
Visiting Grant Scholar (1 April 2005 – 30 June 2005)
HISTORICAL FICTIONS IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY ITALY. HISTORY, NARRATIVE, GENDER AND AUTHORSHIP
During my stay at NIAS I managed to advance the main topic of my research (finish editing a collection of essays to be published shortly in Poland). I rearranged and modified some initial ideas in the project (Twentieth-century Italian Historical novel) as it was too narrowly defined, and added crucial new perspectives and approaches. In a more general sense, this progress translates to a better insight into the methodology of historical research mirroring the phenomena taking place in the fictional representations of the past in novels by about 50 Italian authors of historical novels I have analysed, based on the assumption that to regard history and literature as two wholly disparate, unrelated fields is both mistaken and unhistorical (C. Ginzburg).
So, I contend that historical novels, just like historical writings, continuously create the past they tell, they show selected particular events and interpret them. Just like historians, the novelists read archives or private documents (memories, biographies) and practice a sort of historiography but they borrow professional tools trying to fill the gaps and answer the questions which historians leave unanswered. In short, this progress in research translates into a better insight into the methodology of historical research, historiography and philosophy of history, mirroring the phenomena taking place in the fictional representations of the past.