Welcome to ACIS, the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies – a connection-point for the specialised communities of Italianist scholars in Australasia and beyond.
The Borderlands Research Focus Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is holding its 5th Biennial Borderlands International Graduate Student Conference, Forging Faith(s) in Global Borderlands, on March 11-16 2016. The organisers invite graduate scholars from all disciplines (including Italian Studies) to submit abstracts for papers addressing the conference title theme by December 20 2015 (submission details below). Continue reading
A one-day international conference, Words of Violence in Early Modern Italy, will be held at Palazzo Rucellai, Florence, on 11 December 2015, 9.00am-6.00pm. It will focus on written injurious words: humanist invectives, religious and political smear, slanderous libels and pasquinades. Social historians have engaged with the meanings and practices of verbal slur, gossip, and physically violent acts such as homicide, suicide, and punch-ups. This conference explores instead the conventions of written texts and how hurling textual insults was an effective (and affective) way to establish identity and gain consensus across diverse social echelons. The conference will qualify the type of violence unleashed by these slanderous texts and examine the connection between page and social context, as suggested by Judith Butler. In order to comprehend which words wound, one needs to understand the ritualization of linguistic injury and a sphere of practice that goes beyond the moment of utterance or the written page.
On Wednesday 25 November at 6.30 pm, co-authors Mariella Totaro-Genevois and Nicoletta Zanardi, in conversation with food writer Tania Cammarano, will be introducing their new book, Sapori della memoria/Of Food and Memories (Martogezan, 2014) at the Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton (free but booking essential). The book, also co-authored by Paola Marmini, is a collection of Italian recipes and related stories, written in Italian by Italians who live or have lived in Australia. The stories place the recipes in their contexts of time, space and emotions, demonstrating the reasons for their survival in the lives in Australia of the eighty or so contributors. The recipes and stories come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are published both in Italian and in English translation by Barbara McGilvray.
Already a best-selling book published by Einaudi and an acclaimed film with script by Chiara Ottaviano and the director Costanza Quatriglio, Terra matta, the autobiography of a Sicilian autodidact, Vincenzo Rabito, will be presented in a version for the stage by Vincenzo Pirrotta and the Teatro Stabile di Catania at the Italian Forum Cultural Centre, 23 Norton Street, Leichhardt, NSW, on 17-19 December 2015 (times and booking here). The extraordinary story of Terra matta is the topic of a special issue of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. Vincenzo Rabito’s youngest son, Giovanni, has described its origins and compared it with the second, unpublished, version of his life that his father also spent his retirement writing.
Max Vodola Catholic Theological College, Melbourne
Recently Pope Francis announced a Year of Mercy for the Catholic Church commencing on 8 December 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and concluding on the feast of Christ the King, 20 November 2016. This jubilee picks up a number of key themes emphasised by the Pope since the start of his pontificate: a Church called to go to the margins, a particular concern for the poor and the marginalised, the injunction for priests and bishops to have ‘the smell of the sheep’ on them by leaving the comfort of their offices and sacristies, and the Church called to be a ‘field hospital’ that heals the wounds and warms the hearts of the faithful. In demanding a more humble Church, Pope Francis is modelling what spiritual writers call ‘servant leadership’, giving immense power and prestige to his office precisely by forsaking the many trappings of a monarchical papacy that have evolved over centuries but in fact have little to do with the Gospel.
Sally Grant New York
A major early-modern Venetian drawing exhibition has opened at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Focusing on works from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice should be a visual delight. Considering other recent exhibitions on this subject in Venice, LA, and New York (both in 2012 and 2013-14, as reviewed here), however, the museum’s emphasis on its “ground breaking” attention to the role drawing played for Venetian artists is perhaps a tad overstated. Nevertheless, when it comes to the art of Venice, the more shows the merrier.
This is particularly the case when exhibitions bring to view drawings that are often sequestered in archives away from the public’s gaze. Each opportunity to look closely at such works brings with it the chance of new understanding of aspects of art and humanity. And unlike the previously mentioned exhibitions, where the works were all drawn from US collections, the Ashmolean is displaying its own drawings alongside loans from the Uffizi in Florence and Oxford’s Christ Church. This will create the UK’s first prominent exhibition devoted to the drawings of the Venetian Old Masters.
A Very Normal Man, the first English translation of Vincenzo Cerami’s Un borghese piccolo piccolo, will be presented by its translator Isobel Grave (University of South Australia) at Melbourne’s Italian Institute of Culture (233 Domain Rd, South Yarra) on Thursday 12 November at 6.30pm (free but booking essential). This novella, published in 1976, is a ferocious critique of Italian society in the 1970s and its graft, hypocrisy, corrupt institutions and violent crime. Giovanni Vivaldi is a minor public servant in Rome, determined to secure a job for his son in his own department and prepared to do some extraordinary things to make that happen. But fate destroys his plans and he exacts a chilling revenge. Vincenzo Cerami, who died in 2013, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999 for his original screenplay of Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful. Isobel Grave will talk about Cerami’s achievements in literature and cinema and show clips from Mario Monicelli’s 1977 film of the book which starred Alberto Sordi.
Transnational Italies: Mobility, Subjectivities and Modern Italian Cultures, a conference to be held at the British School at Rome, 26-28 October 2016, with Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Marina Warner as keynote speakers, is issuing a call for papers. The conference is part of the AHRC-funded project ‘Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures‘ and opens the project exhibition at the British School at Rome. The history of Italians and of Italian culture stems from multiple experiences of mobility and transnationalism. Such experiences reflect the history of Italy as an ‘emigrant nation’ (Choate), an imperialist power, and a European country facing the challenges of world system transformation from its Mediterranean location. These histories of mass movements also represent millions of individual and collective trajectories, traced through micro-processes of cultural translation, acts of transmission, and memory mediation of subjects from a variety of national, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
This week’s Times Literary Supplement (6 November) has several items to interest Italianists. Joe Farrell reviews Tim Parks’ A Literary Tour of Italy, describing it as ‘an invitation to share enjoyment, bringing a narrative brio to the summary of works unlikely to be known to English-language readers’. David Collard notes a new translation of Sam Dunn è morto (1917) by Bruno Corra (1892-1976), a briefly Futurist author for whom the reviewer borrows the description ‘a figure of major minorness’. For Venetophiles and anyone who has an urge to follow complete strangers wherever they lead, Lucy Scholes signals the appearance of a new edition – ‘a beautiful work of art in itself’ – of Sophie Calle’s Suite Vénitienne, originally published in 1983.
ACIS is very pleased that Josh Brown and Alessandro Carrieri have accepted appointments as Honorary Research Associates. Dr Brown has interests in language in both historical and contemporary contexts. Using materials from the archives of merchants, he has analysed variations in language use in 14thC and 15thC Milan; he has written on the life and letters of a cardinal in mid-19thC Western Australia; and he has explored factors in Italian language enrolments in current tertiary education. Dr Carrieri, whose doctoral research was on music, memory and resistance among Jewish musicians in concentration camps and ghettos, has been a Visiting Research Fellow in Holocaust Studies at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (Monash). His current research concerns the history of the persecution and expulsion of Italian Jewish musicians and composers from conservatories and theatres during Fascist rule; he has recently organised a conference in Trieste on that topic.