Massimo Stella
Literary criticism and comparative literature

What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests? 
My name is Massimo Stella and I come from Scuola Normale di Pisa. I teach Literary Criticism and Theory and Comparative Literature. My main areas of research are European modernism, early modern European theatre, the reception of classical tradition in modern literature and theoretical reflection on literature.

Tell us about your academic path.
I come from classical philology, but the classical philology in which I was trained was already a largely comparative discipline. Studying with the teachers I studied with meant not only "knowing Greek and Latin", but knowing about, for instance, psychoanalysis, French and German philosophy including Hegel and Foucault, knowing and reading the authors of the modern European literary canon, knowing the theory of literature and so on.

What are your professional role models / references?
Comparative studies is a discipline without models, I think. I mean that from classical philology, to Romance philology, to English studies, French studies, German studies, Iberian studies, to philosophical studies and linguistic studies and psychoanalysis we would have to list too many names and "models"...

Have you always known that this was going to be your path?

What is the aspect of your research you are most passionate about?
The method and, above all, the discussion on the method, because the method is understood in many senses: the heart of our discipline is methodology.

What does teaching and researching mean to you?
Teaching and researching are two absolutely complementary activities for me. Research without teaching would perhaps be maimed.

What has given you the greatest satisfaction in your career?
A class well done. A well-written, well thought-out essay.

The area you have always wanted to be involved in but have not yet had the opportunity to explore?
I have a fascination for art history, but I will never dare pursue it.

What would you say to young people starting their university career?
That they must have a lot of determination and a lot of love for studying. Don't look for shortcuts.

And to those approaching research today?
To keep thinking independently in spite of the many "fashions" in research. Fashions change every five or ten years. True research lasts.

Why Ca’ Foscari and Venice?
Ca' Foscari is a very dynamic and prestigious university. I am honoured to have the chance to teach there.

Choose your question
If I had the chance to answer a question of my choice, the question would be: "How did Ca' Foscari deal with the pandemic, in your opinion"? And the answer would be: in the best possible way. I have always taught face to face this year, always in the classroom, without there ever being a crowd, a dangerous situation. The organisation was truly remarkable and the resources invested were well spent. All that is left now is to bring students back to Venice — to this wonderful city.

Last update: 28/02/2023