Portrait of Dr Francesco Capello

Dr Francesco Capello

Acting Head of Department of Modern Languages
Lecturer in Italian


Dr Francesco Capello moved to the UK in 2003 to take up a PhD scholarship at the University of Leeds, after graduating cum laude in Italian Literature at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and in History of Religions at the University of Pisa. 

His doctoral project, completed in 2008, focused on the literary avant-garde of early twentieth-century Italy, and on the different ways in which the evolving discourses on subjectivity and urban space were intertwined and influenced each other. 

Building on that research, he subsequently wrote his first monograph Città specchio. Soggettività e spazio urbano in Palazzeschi, Govoni e Boine (FrancoAngeli, 2013). 

Francesco is currently external examiner for Italian at University College London. He was also invited to serve as international expert in the process of re-accreditation of the faculties of Humanities at the universities of Split and Zagreb, as well as in the re-accreditation of the University of Bucharest.  

Research interests

Francesco’s main interests in the field of Italian Studies are turn-of-the-century literature and culture, literary cities, literature and mythology, and twentieth-century poetry. He has published on writers including Marinetti, Palazzeschi, Ungaretti, Govoni, Rebora, Sbarbaro, Boine, Moretti, and Tondelli. 

His most recent project focuses on the relationship between Cesare Pavese and Italo Calvino. His other main research strand alongside Italian Studies is contemporary psychoanalysis. He has attended the Foundation and Post-Foundation courses at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London, translated several psychoanalytic books and articles into both Italian and English, and is currently also completing an MA in Clinical Psychology at the University of Turin. 

His project War in the Mind: Symbolism and Interventionist Discourse in Italy (1883-1915), drawing together literature, history, and post-Kleinian psychoanalytic theory, was awarded an Early Career Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust in 2011 after receiving funding from the University of Cambridge.

Francesco has also published in the Rivista di Psicoanalisi, the Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, and the Karnac reference work The Bion Tradition, edited by Civitarese and Levine in 2015. 

His current work focuses on how literary, religious, and political narratives can reflect different kinds of mental functioning. The key parameter he uses to identify and examine such differences is the way in which the dialectics of merger and separation between subject and object presents itself in such narratives. 


Francesco teaches Italian literature in the modern period.



  • Capello, F. (2017). ‘Coscienza spietata’ / Superio arcaico: Attacco al legame e autocastrazione come funzioni del pensiero e del linguaggio di Clemente Rebora. Incontri - Rivista Europea di Studi Italiani [Online] 32:17-35. Available at: https://www.rivista-incontri.nl/articles/abstract/10207/.
  • Capello, F. (2017). Rifiuto dell’io, intolleranza del vuoto e sacrificio narcisistico in Clemente Rebora. Annali d Italianistica [Online] 35:239-278. Available at: http://www.ibiblio.org/annali/toc/2017.html.
  • Capello, F. (2015). Psychoanalysis and Literary Criticism: From Application to Conversation. Rivista di psicoanalisi [Online]:133-152. Available at: http://www.pep-web.org/document.php?id=anrp.009.0133a&type=hitlist&num=7&query=fulltext1%2Ccapello%7Czone1%2Cparagraphs%7Czone2%2Cparagraphs%7Cviewperiod%2Cweek%7Csort%2Cauthor%2Ca#hit1.
    The author discusses the theoretical and clinical implications of the model underlying the recent book by Benjamin and Thomas Ogden, The Analyst's Ear and the Critic's Eye: Rethinking Psychoanalysis and Literature. Particular attention is paid to the consequences that the shift from Freudian unipersonal psychoanalysis (still the most common reference point in the sphere of literary studies), to the radically different intersubjective model of post-Bionian origin, has for the intersection between psychoanalysis, literary criticism, and literature.
  • Capello, F. (2014). Psicoanalisi e critica letteraria: dall’applicazione alla conversazione. Rivista di psicoanalisi [Online] LX:405-432. Available at: http://riviste.raffaellocortina.it/.
  • Capello, F. (2013). La strada verso la città: spazio urbano, poesia e soggetto nel primo Palazzeschi (1905-1913). Italian Studies [Online] 68:246-274. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/0075163413Z.00000000042.
    L’articolo mostra come il progressivo emergere della città nell’opera del primo Palazzeschi sia interessante non solo in virtù del suo intrinseco legame con temi tradizionalmente urbani — in primis l’affermazione del capitalismo industriale e della società di massa — ma anche e soprattutto per la sua profonda implicazione nel graduale definirsi di due cardini della poetica palazzeschiana: la rappresentazione della soggettività e la riflessione sul valore e sul ruolo della poesia. Alle diverse tappe di un avvicinamento a dir poco timido alla città corrispondono infatti non solo il lento e laborioso appropriarsi di una soggettività poetica inizialmente irreperibile (e il conseguente suo insediamento all’interno di uno spazio fisico), ma anche l’affiorare di riflessioni sempre più esplicite e consapevoli sulla poesia intesa come tramite tra l’io e la socialità.
  • Capello, F. and Civitarese, G. (2010). Changing Styles, Affective Continuities and Psychic Containers: Corrado Govoni's Early Poetry. Journal of Romance Studies [Online] 10:55-74. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/jrs.2010.100305.
    This article focuses on the relationship between the representation of femininity and aggressiveness (both stylistic and thematic) in Corrado Govoni's early twentieth-century works, from the erotic-symbolist sonnets of Le fiale (1903) [The Phials] to the Futurist-nationalist fury of L'inaugurazione della primavera (1915) [The Inauguration of Spring]. Drawing on a number of post-Kleinian psychoanalytical notions, it analyses recurrent discourse practices and narrative/rhetorical strategies in the representations of gender, sex and violence, highlighting their 'affective grammar'. The first section introduces the methodological framework, and then moves on to a contextualized overview of Govoni's early poetry. The second part undertakes a close reading of a particularly relevant sample of his work, the section from Le fiale entitled 'Vas luxuriae'. Both sections aim to show that the shift from the literary and cultural tropes of decadence to those of avant-garde nationalism is informed affectively by what, adopting Wilfred Bion's language, is termed a failure of psychic containment.
  • Caldwell, L. and Capello, F. (2010). Introduction: Psychoanalysis and Italian Studies: Special Issue of the Journal of Romance Studies. Journal of Romance Studies [Online] 10:1-9. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/jrs.2010.100301.
  • Capello, F. (2009). The City as the Fragmented Mirror of Poetry: Corrado Govoni's Early Works (1903-1915). Modern Language Review 104:401-421.
    This article analyses the significance of the theme of the city in Corrado Govoni's early poetic works. Criticism has until now mainly focused on the diversity of styles and repertoire that characterizes Govoni's drift from late symbolism towards crepuscolarismo and eventually Futurism. This study highlights instead the elements of continuity, using the example of the theme of the city to show that Govoni's gaze, and his relationship with representation and his poetic objects, remains virtually unchanged throughout his itinerary through different manners and styles.
  • Capello, F. (2009). Food Politics and the Discourse of Fear in Italy. Gastronomica. The Journal of Critical Food Studies 9:5-6.
  • Capello, F. (2008). Spazio cittadino, spazio materno e ideologia poetica: una lettura del primo Moretti. The Italianist [Online] 28:227-245. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/026143408X363541.
  • Capello, F. (2007). Musiche per generazioni: una lettura extravagante di Tondelli. Bollettino '900 [Online] 1-2. Available at: http://www.boll900.it/numeri/2007-i/Capello.html.


  • Capello, F. (2013). Città specchio. Soggettività e spazio urbano in Palazzeschi, Govoni e Boine. Milan, Italy: Franco Angeli.
    The book includes an introduction and three chapters dealing with the representation of urban space and its relation to subjectivity in the early works of three important early twentieth-century Italian authors: Aldo Palazzeschi, Corrado Govoni, and Giovanni Boine.

Book section

  • Capello, F. (2015). The Buried Harbour of Dreaming: Psychoanalysis and Literature towards a Bionian, Non-Archaeological Approach. in: Levine, H. B. and Civitarese, G. eds. The W.R. Bion Tradition. London: Karnac Books, pp. 584-597. Available at: http://www.karnacbooks.com/product/the-wr-bion-tradition/34387/#tab2.
  • Capello, F., Civitarese, G. and Boffito, S. (2012). Per una (nuova) critica psicoanalitica. in: Citivarese, G. ed. Perdere la testa. Abiezione, conflitto estetico e critica psicoanalitica. Florence, Italy: Clinamen.
  • Capello, F. (2012). Futurismo e crepuscolarismo a corrente alternata. in: Van den Bossche, B., Manica, G. and Van den Bossche, C. eds. Azione/Reazione. Il futurismo in Belgio e in Europa. Atti del convegno internazionale (Bruxelles/Lovanio, 19-20 novembre 2009). Bologna, Italy: Franco Cesati, pp. 141-168.
  • Capello, F. (2007). Lo spazio astratto: teoria e rappresentazione della città in Sbarbaro. in: Boria, M. and Risso, L. eds. Investigating Gender, Translation and Culture in Italian Studies. Leceister: Troubador Publishing Ltd, pp. 85-99.

Edited book

  • Capello, F. and Caldwell, L. (2010). Psychoanalysis and Italian Studies: Special Issue of the Journal of Romance Studies. [Special Issue of Journal print and online]. Capello, F. and Caldwell, L. eds. Oxford: Berghahn. Available at: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/berghahn/romance/2010/00000010/00000003;jsessionid=s3galegu30re.alice#.


  • Capello, F. (2009). Note on Louise Braddock and Michael Lacewing (eds.), 'The Academic Face of Psychoanalysis', London: Routledge, 2007 Braddock, L. and Lacewing, M. eds. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 90:1192-1200.
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