Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Parga; Risorgimento; Philhellenism; Orientalism; Balkanism; Geopolitics; Nationalism; Italy; Greece; Mediterranean.

Major Advisor

Norma Bouchard

Associate Advisor

Franco Masciandaro

Associate Advisor

Osvaldo Pardo

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This study examines the impact of the sale of the Greek city of Parga to the Ottoman Turks by the English government in 1819 on the cultural work of Romantic Italian intellectuals and artists. I place Parga at the intersection of cultural, political, and historical discourses, and argue that this event is a prism to chart the major leading forces, tensions, and ideas that coalesced in the formation of Italian cultural nationalism, or Risorgimento - the movement that led to the unification of the peninsula in 1861. By extending the boundaries of the Italian national movement to another national cause and, by implication, to the larger European geo-political and geo-cultural space, I also shed light on the transnational aspects of 19th century Italian nationalist culture. In this study, I refer to the different branches of Philhellenism in Europe and to the solidification of a hierarchy of European civilizations, which saw Southern Europe as a region impermeable to the progress and advances of Northern modernity and thus unsuited for political freedom and economic independence. Against the background of this complex political and ideological context, the sale of Parga was rapidly transformed into a powerful tool of political propaganda by Italian intellectuals. Writers such as Ugo Foscolo, Giovanni Berchet, and Giacomo Leopardi, and painters such as Francesco Hayez and Cherubino Cornienti, mobilized conceptual oppositions between East/West, North/South, Christianity/Islam, civilization/barbarity to demonstrate the degree of civilization and readiness for freedom of Mediterranean populations, and claim the Italian nation’s ‘rightful’ place in Europe.