Emotional investments during the Year Abroad: A case study of a British ERASMUS student in Italy

Sonia Gallucci

emotions, identity, language learning, year abroad


This article focuses on the shaping of social identities and emotions of one British young woman who spent a Year Abroad (YA) in Italy as an ERASMUS student. I have examined her negotiation and (re)construction of social identities during her experience abroad from a poststructuralist perspective, which sees individuals’ identities as dynamic and changeable sites of struggles (Norton Pierce, 1995 and 2000). In order to analyse the participant's accounts of her language learning and emotional experiences during her YA I have used the notion of emotional investment developed by Pavlenko (2012). This notion has helped me to understand how, why and to what extent the participant in the study gained access to Italian communities of practice and to explain her discursive construction of a new linguistic identity during her stay in Italy. There are clear gaps in the literature on identities and emotions in the YA research context. Recent work on the YA shows a growing interest in identity and second language learning (e.g. the work by 2007 and by Jackson, 2008), but the emotional dimension of such experience is still under researched territory, hence my focus on it in this article.

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