From Italy to Denmark, with Giorgia Cantini and Sarah Lund


All are warmly invited to attend the next seminar in the  University of Glasgow SMLC Research Seminar Series, organised with the Centre for Gender History, at 4pm on Monday 23 February in Room 209, 2 University Gardens.

Dr Alessia Risi, University College Cork

‘From Italy to Denmark. Do Female Features Really Change Under Bleak Skies?’

The extraordinary success of noir fiction in recent years has been bolstered by countless screen manifestations. Across Europe and beyond, public demand for the genre is seemingly insatiable and the resultant growth in the number of – male and female – authors and titles seems unstoppable.

Such an international phenomenon allows us to consider noir fiction as a transnational and a transmedial language, making possible a potential sociocultural and symbolic exchange.

In this light, this paper proposes a comparative analysis between the two fictional female investigators Sarah Lund and Giorgia Cantini, respectively featured in the Danish television series Forbrydelsen (Søren Sveistrup, 2007-2012) and Grazia Verasani’s Italian-based TV series originating with the novel Quo Vadis, Baby? (2004), adapted to cinema by Gabriele Salvatores in 2005. The comparison between the two characters allows us to raise different gender-related questions, such as the extent to which the female representation changes in relation to different countries and cultures, or the impact of male/female authorship. Undertaking such a comparison allows for the widening of previously national arguments into a transnational context, an outward movement that in turn raises questions about the stifling parameters of regional and social constructs and sexual mores.

With this in mind and assuming the act of writing (broadly speaking) as a social practice – and therefore a political one –, the aim of this paper is to establish to what extent these two female figures can be seen as a critical means in order to free female representation from outdated gender stereotypes.

Essential Works:

de Lauretis, Teresa, Technologies of Gender. Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction (London: Macmillan, 1987)

Hewson, David, The Killing (London: Pan Macmillan, 2012)

Salvatores, Gabriele (dir.), Quo Vadis, Baby? (Colorado Film, Medusa, 2005)

Sud, Veena (adaptor), The Killing, AMC (3 April 2011), Television

Sveistrup, Søren (creator), Forbrydelsen, DR1 (7 January 2007), Television

Verasani, Grazia, Quo Vadis, Baby? (Milano: Colorado Noir, 2004)



Alessia Risi lectures in the Department of Italian Studies at University College Cork. Her research interests focus primarily on Italian contemporary genre fiction (crime/noir), feminist theory and gender studies, transnational motifs in literature, cultural studies and transmedia narratology. Her recent publications include articles on Italian noir narrative, female writing, comparative studies and transmedia storytelling.

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