Faculty Spotlight: Anna Chiafele

Faculty Spotlight: Anna Chiafele

This month, we introduce you to Anna Chiafele, an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. She came to Auburn last fall and is currently teaching a course in Sicily on Sicilian culture. Back on Auburn's campus this fall, she will teach a course on Italian detective stories. 

Below, Chiafele talks about her love of metafiction and anti-detective novels, and how she would love for you to invite her to your tailgate!  

Q: Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself? 

A: I was born and raised in a small town near Brescia, in the north of Italy. At 25 I moved to Virginia to complete an MA in Italian Studies; then I moved to Toronto to do my PhD. I am so grateful to Canada. It gave me free education and Canadian citizenship! After two years as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. I received an offer from Auburn University last June. And here I am! So far I have been teaching language courses. This summer I will teach a course in Sicily on Sicilian culture and literature and in the fall, I will be teaching a course on Italian detective stories.

Q: So, your research interests include irony, parody, metafiction and anti-detective novels…what exactly is metafiction? And how did you become involved/interested in these?

A: Metafiction is fictional writing which consciously keeps drawing attention to its status. Understanding the structures of narration can help us interpret reality, which is itself a construction. In one of my graduate courses, I prepared a presentation on The Serpent and What Is This Buzzing, Do You Hear It Too? by Luigi Malerba (1927-2008) and from that day on I was hooked on the author, and on metafiction, irony and parody.

Q: What has your experience at Auburn been like so far? Do you have a favorite Auburn tradition?

A: So far I have enjoyed every single moment at Auburn. When I get too stressed, I only need to go outside and walk around Auburn and its campus to remind myself how lucky I am to be here. After too many years of humid, cold northern Italian winters and seven years of “rigid” Canadian winters, here at Auburn I have discovered the thrill and freedom of not wearing hats, gloves, scarves and, above all, long underwear! Regarding traditions, I was puzzled to learn about tailgating. That is on my to-do list for 2013. Any invitations?

Q: What do you hope your students take away from your class and/or teaching style?

A: I know that most of my students will forget verb conjugations and vocabulary after their final exam. That does not really matter. I would like for them to leave my course with the desire to read and learn more about any foreign culture and in particular Italian (or Canadian!). As for my teaching style, I hope they can see that enthusiasm makes a difference.

Q: What/who inspires you?

A: I cannot pinpoint only one person!  There are so many people who have left a positive mark on me: my supervisor at the University of Toronto; some of my dearest friends and colleagues; Luigi Malerba, the author on whom I wrote my dissertation; and above all my mom and dad. They taught me to be honest and humble and to work hard.  

Q: What is a fun fact/hobby people may not know about you?

 A: After being a couch-potato for most of my life, in 2008 I became addicted to the gym. As silly as it may sound, this spring semester, I learned to skip rope while alternating my feet and I felt as if I had climbed a huge mountain.  My next goal is to be able to do as many push-ups as my age (and add one more every year!). Now I can barely get to 30….and unfortunately that is not my age!


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