Lourdes Contreras

Lourdes Contreras

Ph.D. Candidate, Italian Studies

Fontaine Fellow

Will 536

Lourdes Contreras’ academic interests encompass the themes of exile, displacement, temporality, rootedness, and ecological representations in literature. Her interest in displacement and rootedness stem from the presence of the root metaphor in Italian literature from the fifteenth century to the contemporary period and the implications that this metaphor has on broader political and theoretical issues. Her research in these subjects investigates connections in both Ecocriticism, Mediterranean Studies, and  Ecofeminism through authors such as Fausta Cialente, Grazia Deledda, Gianna Manzini, and Alba de Céspedes, among others. She is interested in the theme of rootedness and its significance in contemporary women-written novels. 

Before arriving at Penn, Lourdes obtained her Bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, at DePaul University (2020), double majoring in Italian and Political Science. During her undergraduate studies her research was centered on 16th century Italian women writers and the gendered and political underpinnings of Italy’s gastronomic history. In Chicago she worked at the Italian Trade Agency where she assisted in updating state profiles and revitalizing the Italbooks website and social media. During her undergraduate years she worked as an Italian tutor at DePaul’s Tutoring and Language Learning Center and as a language instructor at Insieme a Chicago, an elementary language learning program. 

She holds a MA in Italian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and has received the certificate in Global Medieval and Renaissance Studies in 2021. She is currently pursuing the CTL Teaching Certificate. She is a recipient of the School of Arts and Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching by Graduate Students for the 2022-2023 academic year. She is also a Fontaine Society Fellow and contributes to a repository of equitable and diverse texts, films, and content for Italian language courses at Penn. As a Andrew W. Mellon Mid-Doctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities (2023-2024) she assists on digital projects managed by the Price Lab. 

Lourdes is a current American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS) Senior Graduate Assistant and supports in organizing the yearly AAIS conference. She is a co-editor for the Bibliotheca Dantesca journal.

Although contemporary literature remains her primary field of study, the digital humanities, visual arts and oral history are among her areas of interest. Lourdes is an Aquarius. 


Conference Participation: 

  • “Ecocritical Approaches in the Contemporary Italian Literature Classroom” Innovative Approaches to Equitable and Inclusive Pedagogy/ Teaching Language and Content Courses, American Association of Teachers of Italian (AATI) Conference, Università degli Studi di Catania, Catania, Sicily, Italy.  July 5th-9th 2023.
  • “Stratigraphic readings of perceptions of nature and/as medicine in Erbario, LJS 419” Mysterious hands: paleographic curiosities across the early-modern Italian north, , American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS) Conference, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX, USA. May 18th-20th 2023.
  • “The Fall of Phaethon: Body and space in Michelangelo’s poetry and drawing,” AATI Presidential Panels on Graduate Student Research & Dissertations in Progress Workshop American Association of Teachers of Italian (AATI) Conference, Scuola di Lingue, Fondazione Campus, Lucca, Italy. May 25th-29th 2022.
  • “Liminality and Boundary in Fall of Phaethon: Body, space, and the Heliades in Michelangelo’s poetry and drawing”, Sibyls, Sirens, Crazies, and Crones: Female Figures Of Power And ThreatFrom The Ancients To Today SESSION IV, American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS) Conference, Bologna. Italy. May 29th - June 1st, 2022.
  • “The Tower of Babel and Solidarity in La Divina Commedia: Nimrod, pride, and the transient nature of language” French and Italian Graduate Society Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. March 20th- 21st 2021.
Office Hours
By appointment
Courses Taught

ITAL 0400- Intermediate Italian II (Spring 2023) 

ITAL 0300- Intermediate Italian I (Fall 2022)

ITAL 0200 - Elementary Italian II (Spring 2022, Summer 2022)

ITAL110 - Elementary Italian I (Fall 2021, Summer 2023)

Selected Publications

Contreras, Lourdes (2022) "'Selve oscure e alberi strani.' Paolo Grillo, ed. Rome: Viella libreria editrice, 2022.," Bibliotheca Dantesca: Journal of Dante Studies: Vol. 5, Article 31.

Contreras, Lourdes (2021) "John Took. 'Dante.' Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2020.," Bibliotheca Dantesca: Journal of Dante Studies: Vol. 4, Article 13.

Contreras, Lourdes (2018) "Un Mondo Buono: Lingua, Retorica, e Ideologia Della Campagna Pubblicitaria Dei Prodotti da Forno Mulino Bianco 2012-2016." Creating Knowledge Undergraduate Scholarship Journal 


Published translations:

“End Credits” by Marzia Grillo from Il punto di vista del sole (2022) translated into English from Italian by Lourdes Contreras and Julia Pelosi-Thorpe, PRISM international – Contemporary Writing from Canada & Around the World 61.3. 

“Anatomy Lessons” by Nicolò Pellizon Translated into English from Italian by Lourdes Contreras, 2023. https://www.akame.games/Pellizzon/


American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS)

American Association of Teachers of Italian (AATI)