Lara Mantovan
Historical linguistics

What do you teach at Ca’ Foscari? What are your main research interests? 
My name is Lara Mantovan and I am originally from Bassano del Grappa. I currently teach the following subjects: LIS 1 and LIS 2 at the Bachelor's degree programme in Language, Civilisation and the Science of Language and LIS at the Master's degree programme in Science of Language. I have been researching LIS linguistics since 2011 with the aim of investigating the structural mechanisms of this language and, in the light of these, to better understand the properties of the human language faculty. So far, I have mainly worked on syntax, pragmatics, discourse analysis, corpus linguistics and sociolinguistics.

What does teaching and researching mean to you?
Let's say that teaching and researching are activities that require specific skills: a good teacher is not necessarily a good researcher and the other way around. However, I believe that teaching and researching are two sides of the same coin, two complementary areas that are closely linked and feed off each other in a virtuous circle. In my case, doing research on LIS helps me better understand the mechanisms that regulate this language and, at the same time, helps me enrich and constantly update the contents of my teaching. On the other hand, teaching encourages me to critically reconsider methods and knowledge and to reflect on unresolved issues, which is a constant stimulus for my research.

What has given you the greatest satisfaction in your career?
For my research on LIS, I have received two awards: the Prize "Don Giulio Tarra: ricerche e studi per la sordità" (Father Giulio Tarra: research and studies on deafness - 2019 edition) and the Prize for the linguistic area of Ca' Foscari's Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies (for 2020).
Another great professional satisfaction has been writing the most comprehensive reference LIS grammar book with six colleagues, published in digital format by Edizioni Ca' Foscari in 2020. This work, with more than 800 pages, is the result of four years' work and has already become a reference manual for Ca' Foscari students and all those interested in learning more about the linguistic properties of LIS.

And to those approaching research today?
I would advise young people to try and learn as much as possible from those who are already doing research with humility and curiosity. Don't be afraid to venture into unfamiliar fields and confront specialists from other areas. Study a lot and do not neglect language and technical skills. If you specifically want to research LIS, practice the language as much as possible and stay constantly in touch with the Deaf community. Finally, do not let yourself be held back by the fear of not feeling ready, you probably never will. Step out of your comfort zone often, knowing that every little challenge or difficulty is an extra step in your professional growth.

Why Ca’ Foscari and Venice?
If we talk about the study of Italian sign language, we cannot forget Ca' Foscari University, which has been playing a pioneering and driving role in this field for years. LIS has been taught as a specialised language at our university since 2001/2002. Over the years, the curriculum in this field has been enriched with courses in deaf culture, linguistics for the deaf, tactile LIS, translation and interpretation. Ca' Foscari is also at the forefront of LIS research through its participation in several national and international research projects.

Last update: 28/02/2023