Collaboration and Co-Creation in Italian Studies

Trinity College Dublin, 07-08/07/2022

The 3rd Interdisciplinary Italy Summer School took place at Trinity College Dublin on 7-8 July 2022, was organised by Clodagh Brook and Cecilia Brioni with the support of the Irish Research Council and the Society for Italian Studies. It attracted speakers and participants from a variety of academic contexts (Ireland, the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Austria) and at different career stages, from PhDs to Full Professors. Their research interests mostly revolved around transnational, transcultural and transmedial processes, with very exciting research projects in arts, cinema, poetry, podcasts, publishing, as well as material culture and memory. 

Through sessions combining short talks with interactive activities, we aimed to tackle three questions:

  • How does co-creating research work in practice?  
  • How can we as researchers think creatively about opportunities for collaboration in, and emerging from, our own research? 
  • How can co-creation be leveraged to support us in winning research funding grants? 

Clodagh Brook’s talk, which opened the Summer School, discussed different models of co-creation that could be applied to our research, by underlining the non-linearity of the process of co-creation and the advantages of bringing collaborators on board right at the start of a research project. 

The subsequent sessions were divided onto three main areas, namely relations with education, industry and the arts. The sessions on education, led by Cecilia Brioni and Giuliana Pieri, discussed experiences of collaboration with undergraduates and secondary-school students. The session on industry was led by Martina Mendola, a recent graduate of Trinity with a PhD in Italian who now works for Accenture. She discussed her experience as a researcher in the industry and how relevant our work on identity can be in an industry setting. The two sessions led by Derek Duncan and Simone Brioni respectively dealt with co-creation of outputs with artists, namely photographers, directors and writers. 

The second part of each session was designed to encourage participants to experiment with different kinds of creative collaborative activities, including designing a module with co-creative elements, making a pop-up exhibition, brainstorming research questions using post-its, discussing how to collaborate with artists as early career researchers, and creating the storyline for a documentary. 

The final activity of the Summer School was a research sandpit, where participants were asked to work in groups to write the rationale for a research grant and identify the intended outputs for a collaborative research project that would fit each participant’s research interests and involve a co-creation element. The three groups produced three projects: ‘Before Ferrante. Women Writers between Visibility and Invisibility’, ‘The Aest(h)etics of memory in Urban Spaces’ and ‘Minority Engagement in the Metaverse: Voice and Visibility’.  Results of the sandpit were then presented to a panel of judges, from Trinity’s Research Office and Trinity’s Tangent: Ideas Work Space, who decided the winning project. The prize was supported by the SIS. 

Overall, the Summer School was very well received.  Participants particularly appreciated its learning-through-doing approach that enabled them to experiment with different techniques of, and approaches to, co-creation. Our speakers actively participated in all activities, providing useful feedback on the ideas that were shared in the small group activities. 

The Summer School enabled us all to carve out two days to reimagine our research and teaching in a more collaborative and impactful way.

Cecilia Brioni ( and Clodagh Brook (