Maria Elena Alampi

Photograph of Maria Elena Alampi

Department of Modern Languages
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD Title: The Economic Crisis on the Big Screen: the Italian Era of Precarity
Supervisors: Dr Charlotte Ross and Professor Rob Stone
PhD Italian Studies


I completed my BA in Modern Languages at the University of Messina in 2008 with a thesis on the postmodern cinema of Woody Allen. Subsequently, I obtained my MA in Modern Languages: Literatures and Translations cum laude at the University of Messina, in 2012, under the supervision of Prof. Giuseppe Lombardo. My thesis focused on Malcolm X and his cinematographic representation by Spike Lee.

Currently, I am still involved in film studies and as a PhD student at University of Birmingham, my research focuses on contemporary Italian films on the precariat and related issues.


  • 2014-ongoing: Public schools teacher (secondary schools- qualified teacher status in Modern Languages).
  • 2014: English language – Scuola Superiore per Mediatori Linguistici “Don Domenico Calarco”
  • 2012:  Beginners Italian language -  European Project “Calabria and Friends”
  • 2011: BA English Language tutor – University of Messina 

Doctoral research

PhD title
The Economic Crisis on the Big Screen: the Italian Era of Precarity
Dr Charlotte Ross and Professor Rob Stone


My research aims to investigate the representations of the Italian labour system, in particular of the phenomenon of the precariat, in contemporary Italian cinema. In recent times, due to significant political, media and social, but also aesthetic and artistic factors, we have witnessed a growing interest in “precarious” characters in many Italian films. In fact, the precariat is intrinsically connected with cinema, politics, and social structures, as employment is not only important for people to live but as well as essential part of their identity. Through an interdisciplinary approach focusing on questions of gender and cultural identity,, this study fills a  gap in research, and offers an interpretation of Italian cinema as a  form of political engagement.

Moreover, the research aims at discussing and analysing the formation of a new Italiano medio [new average Italian man] as precarious antihero, with a special focus on the “precari” embodied by particular actors. These actors are shown to embody new forms of visibility, behaviour, and ways of conceptualizing society. As part of this, I will explore new forms of dissent by many contemporary Italian directors who use humour and exploit the connections of contemporary comedies about the precariat with the tradition of the “commedia all'italiana".

As a result the key questions of my research are:

  • How do depictions of the precariat fit within the broader discussions of political engagement in Italian cinema?
  • How do these films link to other political ones? What kind of politics do they depict and what effect do they have? Are they depicting a new social class of Italian precari?

Other activities

I worked as linguistic researcher for a software company in UK (2014-2017)