Carol Lazzaro-Weis, Professor Emerita of French and Italian at the University of Missouri and former President of the American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS), passed away on 26 February 2022. She had been on the International Advisory Board of the CCWW since its foundation in 2009.
Professor Lazzaro-Weis’s longest tenures were at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the University of Missouri at Columbia, where she was also affiliated to the Afro-Romance Institute and to the Women and Gender Studies, Canadian Studies, and Black Studies Programmes. She had retired from Missouri in 2015.
She was a brilliant comparatist. Her research and teaching interests ranged from the 17th- and 18th-century French novel, French women writers of the 17th and 18th century, Race and the Enlightenment, to 19th- and 20th-century Italian literature, Francophone literature of North America, contemporary Italian women writers, genre, and feminist literary theory. Her research was supported by grants from the ACLS, NEH, the Fulbright Association, and the Bogliasco Foundation, and published in prestigious national and international journals. In addition to numerous articles on French and Italian writers, she published the following books: Confused Epiphanies: L’Abbé Prévost and the Romance Tradition (Lang, 1991); From Margins to Mainstream: Feminism and Fictional Modes in Italian Women’s Writing, 1968-1990 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993); La Signorina and Other Stories, a translation with Martha King and critical introduction to a collection of short stories by Italian woman writer Anna Banti and the Italian edition of the collection, both published by the MLA Texts and Translations series (2001); and a critical edition and re-publication of Victor Tixier’s Voyages dans la Louisiane et le Missouri (1842) (Centenary College Press, 2012). At the time of her death, she was preparing a book-length manuscript on women’s historical novels in Italy, Francophone Canada, and the Caribbean and their relationship to canon formation and nationalism.
Her major contribution to Italian Studies is her 1993 book From Margins to Mainstream: Feminism and Fictional Modes in Italian Women's Writing, 1968-1990. This pioneering study focused on gender and genre and examined some 25 contemporary Italian women authors from within the framework of Italian feminist practices and theories of difference. The book has been and still is essential reading for students and scholars of contemporary Italian literature.
Lazzaro-Weis leaves an important legacy with her scholarship, her mentorship of younger scholars, and her long service to the American Association of Italian Studies. As President of the latter, she expanded the Association’s disciplinary boundaries and encouraged cross-disciplinary intersections and international collaborations and partnerships, including with the CCWW. We are grateful for her immense contribution to the field.
Adalgisa Giorgio (CCWW Steering Committee Member/University of Bath)