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Elizabeth Wren-Owens

Dr Elizabeth Wren-Owens

Dean of Postgraduate Education for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Reader in Italian and Translation Studies

School of Modern Languages

+44 29208 76438
66a Park Place, Room 2.12, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am Reader in Italian and Translation Studies, and am currently Dean of Postgraduate Education in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Beyond Cardiff I am the Vice-Chair (Research) for the University Council of Modern Languages. 

My research interests include:

  • Translation Studies
  • World Literature
  • Twentieth-century Italian Cultural Studies
  • Constructions of regional, national, and transnational Italian identities through adaptation and translation
  • Socio-political engagement in literature and links between culture and citizenship
  • Travel writing
  • Detective fiction
  • Italian diasporic and migrant writing
  • Italians in Wales: comparative perspectives















Book sections





My research focusses on Translation Studies and Italian Cultural Studies.

My current project is Translating Sicily, Adapting Sicily, under contract with LUP. This monograph explores the way that Sicily and Sicilianness have been constructed for readers and spectators in Italy and the Anglophone world. Sicily is particularly resonant in a transnational context as a space which has been imagined, constructed, and othered from Italian Unification onwards. The interdisciplinary approach, spanning Italian Studies, Translation Studies, and Adaptation Studies, will inform an examination of translations, and film and television adaptations, of works by canonical Sicilian writers, from the nineteenth century to the present day, to uncover how the regional is translated into national and transnational contexts. 

My 2018 monograph In, on, and through translation: Tabucchi's travelling texts (Peter Lang) combines an analysis of the ways the Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi's texts have been translated into other languages with an examination of the way his translations, critical essays and fictions reflect on the value and possibilities of translation. The book suggests that using translation as a means through which to approach Tabucchi’s works enables us to both develop new perspectives on Tabucchi’s texts, and to reflect on some key issues in translation studies. One of its major innovations is the analysis of a new body of interviews with Tabucchi’s translators, from across Europe, Asia, and America. The interviews, conducted as part of the study, offer fascinating new perspectives on the way the same (often Eurocentric) texts move between languages, and the possibilities and challenges the translation process offers in different linguistic and cultural spaces.

Previous research has addressed the way in which the diasporic narrative of the Italian community in Wales has developed in relation to other Italian migrant narratives. I have published on Italian Welsh narrative and café culture, on first-wave Italian American and African Italian autobiographies, on Sandro Onofri and the Italian Left’s response to racial violence in Italy, and on Tabucchi’s response to Pessoa. Previous publications have addressed socio-political engagement in Italian literature, particularly in the work of Sciascia and Tabucchi, representations of empire in Tabucchi, Italian detective fiction and the usefulness of Lacan’s notion of the real in understanding Tabucchi’s texts.


At Cardiff  I have taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including modules on Italian migration, Italian culture and representation, and translation. I founded a student teaching module for final-year languages students, which combines pedagogical training with mentored teaching placements in local schools.

I am able to supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research projects in the following areas:

  • Twentieth Century Italian narrative
  • Translation
  • Construction of regional, national and transnational identities in literature, translation and adaptation
  • Migrant identities and narrative
  • Concepts of socio-political engagement in literature
  • Italian travel writing
  • Italian detective fiction


I graduated from the University of Warwick in 2001 with a first class honours degree in French and Italian, then completed a Masters degree in Italian at Bristol (2002) and a PhD in Italian Studies at Warwick (2006), focusing on socio-political engagement in the works of Antonio Tabucchi and Leonardo Sciascia. I joined Cardiff in 2007, having taught previously at the Universities of Warwick, Bristol and Bath.

Professional memberships

I am Vice-Chair (Research) for the University Council of Modern Languages.

I am a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College (2022-25); the Institute for Languages, Cultures and Societies Advisory Board; the British Academy Languages Gateway Advisory Group; the Arts and Humantities Alliance. 

I am a member of the Society for Italian Studies, the Amici di Leonardo Sciascia, and the American Association of Italian Studies. I peer review scholarly articles for a number of journals, and also review manuscripts for publishing houses.

I am on the editorial board for the Todomodo, the international journal of Sciascia Studies.

I am external examiner at Bath University. 


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Translation Studies and Adaptation Studies
  • Twentieth-century Italian narrative
  • The construction of transnational, national and regional identities
  • Migrant identities and narrative
  • Concepts of socio-political engagement in literature
  • Italian travel writing
  • Italian detective fiction

I currently supervise PhD theses on:

  • The Shaping Powers of Translating Epic Fantasy in the Social Media Age: Arabic Adaptation of The Game of Thrones
  • Creative Identities: Representations of Transnational Identity in Contemporary Italian Cultural Production 

I am currently adviser on 2 postdoctoral projects:

  • TransIT: Many Diasporas from One Transnational Italy (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Global Postdoctoral Fellowship)
  • Building a Romansch Translation Publishing House (AHRC SWW DTP Alumni Fellowship)




Past projects

Bourdieu, Multilingualism, and Immigration: Understanding how second-generation multilingual immigrants reproduce linguistic practices with non-autochthonous minority languages in Cardiff, Wales

Ideological Mediation in the Translation of Geopolitical Texts: An English-Kurdish Case Study.

Italy’s ‘Other’: A Study of Transnational Calabrian Identity

Multilingual Tales: Writing, Translating and Illustrating for Children in Minority-Language Contexts