Elena Past

Elena Past

Professor of Italian



413 Manoogian Hall

Curriculum vitae



Elena Past

Elena Past is Professor of Italian. Her research and teaching focus on contemporary Italian literature and cinema, ecomedia studies and the environmental humanities, posthumanism and animal studies, Italian crime fiction, and ecomafia.


  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2005
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania, 2000
  • B.A., University of Texas at Austin, 1998

Selected publications

Italian Ecocinema Beyond the Human. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019, winner of the MLA's Howard Marraro Prize.

Italy and the Environmental Humanities: Landscapes, Natures, Ecologies. Eds. Serenella Iovino, Enrico Cesaretti, and Elena Past. University of Virginia Press, Under the Sign of Nature Series, 2018.

"Itinerant Ecocriticism, Southern Thought, and Italian Cinema on Foot." Ecozon@ 11.2 (2020): 26-33.

Toxic Fruits: Tomatoes, Migration, and the New Italian Slavery.” Co-authored with Giovanna Faleschini Lerner. Journal of Modern Italian Studies. Published online October 2020.

Volcanic Matters: Magmatic Cinema, Ecocriticism, and Italy.” L’analisi linguistica e letteraria XXIV.2 (2016): 135-46.

Animal Humanities, or, On Reading and Writing the Nonhuman.” Introduction to special section of Ecozon@. Co-authored with Deborah Amberson. Ecozon@ 7.1 (2016): 1-9.

“Gadda’s Pasticciaccio and the Knotted Posthuman Household.” Co-authored with Deborah Amberson. Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism 4.1 (2016): 63-78.

“Mediterranean Ecocriticism: The Sea in the Middle.” Handbook of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology. Ed. Hubert Zapf. De Gruyter, 2016. 368-84.

“Documenting Ecomafia.” Nuovo Cinema Politico. Eds. Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva. New York: Peter Lang (Italian Modernities), 2016.

“Il cinema e il suono del silenzio: Le quattro volte.” Animal Studies: Rivista italiana di antispecismo 11 (2015): 56-71.

Thinking Italian Animals: Human and Posthuman in Modern Italian Literature and Film. Eds. Deborah Amberson and Elena Past. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Currently teaching

  • ITA 5150, Mafia Movies

    SPA/ITA/FRE/GER 7010, Introduction to Literary Theory

Courses taught

GLS 2700, Introduction to Global Stories

ITA 5150, Mafia Movies

ITA 4610, Birth of Italian Language and Literature

ITA 4620, The Birth of Italy

ITA 6800, Inventing Italy, Making Italians

ITA 6900, Essere Arte Ambiente

ITA 6870, Trieste: Italy from the Margins