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Welcome to ACIS, the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies – a connection-point for the communities of Italianist scholars in Australasia and beyond.

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Andrea Camilleri (1925 – 2019)

Mercoledì mattina è mancato all’età di 93 anni Andrea Camilleri, regista, attore, docente, ma conosciuto soprattutto come creatore in più di venti libri del commissario Salvo Montalbano e delle sue indagini nella Sicilia sud-orientale. Sia in Italia che all’estero Camilleri ha goduto di uno straordinario successo editoriale, giunto in età avanzata (scrisse il suo primo romanzo con Montalbano quando aveva quasi 70 anni). In un’intervista a SBS Barbara Pezzotti (Monash University), analizzando i diversi motivi di quel successo, ha riassunto il carattere del protagonista così: “Il commissario Montalbano è un personaggio molto particolare: se pensiamo c’è tutta una tradizione del giallo in cui il detective è triste, isolato, preda a grande disperazione, molto spesso alcolizzato, tossicodipendente… qui invece ci troviamo di fronte ad un secondo filone della crime fiction, che è un filone in realtà moltissimo amato, che è dell’ispettore che ama la vita, pensiamo a Maigret per esempio, a Vásquez Montálban: è un ispettore che ama la vita, ama mangiare, ama la bellezza, ha molti difetti, quindi non è perfetto, non è atletico, non è un superuomo, quindi possiamo identificarci con lui… ma è fondamentalmente una persona onesta, a volte burbero, però ha una grande sensibilità e una grande empatia nell’affrontare le sue indagini”.

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Silk, Gold, and Renaissance Masculinity

Timothy McCall (Villanova University) will be giving a lecture, ‘Velvet Goldmine: Silk, Gold, and Renaissance Masculinity‘ on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 in the North Theatre (room 149), Old Arts Building, at the University of Melbourne (free but registration required here). The ruling men of Renaissance Italy wrapped themselves in silks and jewels, feathers and pearls. To dazzle the eye, they wore cloth-of-gold and cloth-of-silver, but sometimes the gems were made of paste, intended to deceive observers. All that glittered was not necessarily gold. Building from a study of material extravagance and the symbolic economy of male court fashions, this lecture explores the shining surfaces and things which adorned lords’ bodies and turns a critical eye to material fictions of luxury.  Continue reading

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Looking at the girl with an ermine

Timothy McCall (Villanova University) will give a talk, Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of a Milanese courtesan: new light on Cecilia Gallerani, the Girl with an Ermine, on Monday 29 July 2019, 6.15pm at the Forum Theatre, level 1 – Arts West, The University of Melbourne (registration here). He focuses our attention anew on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Girl with an Ermine (1489-1490), a depiction of Cecilia Gallerani, mistress of the duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, examining the artistic representation of Cecilia both within conventions surrounding Renaissance mistresses at court and in relation to visual imagery celebrating her and her lord Ludovico’s identities. New evidence from an overlooked letter and technical analysis of the painting reveals that the relationship between the two began earlier than scholars have presumed (Cecilia was barely a teenager) and provides a fresh perspective on her connection with Leonardo da Vinci and her advertisement of that connection throughout her life.  Continue reading

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‘La notte nuda’ di Mariano Coreno

Il poeta Mariano Coreno sarà presente ad una serata di letture dal suo ultimo lavoro, La notte nuda, a 199 Faraday St, Carlton, martedì il 23 luglio, dalle 18.30 alle 20.00. Nato in Italia nel 1939 e residente in Australia dal 1956, Mariano Coreno collabora a svariati giornali e riviste in Italia e in Australia. Tra il 2001 e il 2017 ha pubblicato cinque raccolte di poesie (Stelle passanti; Sotto le stelle; L’ombra delle rose; Un albero per ombrello; Canto la vita mia). Dagli anni 70 in poi i suoi versi sono stati inclusi in antologie inglesi, italiane e australiane. La serata sarà introdotta da Gregoria Manzin (La Trobe University), autrice di Torn Identities: Life Stories at the Border of Italian Literature (Trobadour, 2013) e di pubblicazioni su argomenti di traduzione, studi di genere e studi migranti, postcoloniali e transnazionali.

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Women and violence in Italian literature

The journal Spunti e Ricerche has published Women and Violence in Italian Literature (2018, vol.33), a special issue edited by Gregoria Manzin and Barbara Pezzotti. The nine contributions draw on examples mainly from 20th century novelists (Maraini, Albinati, Patti) but include discussions of a play (Dacia Maraini’s Passi affrettati) and poetry (the works of Margherita Guidacci). Also addressed is the place of gender violence in Federico De Roberto’s novels (I Viceré, L’imperio, Ermanno Raeli)  the portrayal of violence in religious schools in colonial Somalia by postcolonial Italo-Somali authors (Scego, Ali Farah), and  the representation of female characters in the crime fiction series by Scerbanenco, Lucarelli, and Verasani. Although the contributors don’t neglect the socio-political context of the works they analyse, their primary emphasis is mostly on the texts themselves – the narrative strategies employed, the embedding of violence in the relations between male and female protagonists, the ways in which the representations of particular acts – the delitto del Circeo, the bombing of Bologna railway station – depict the general role violence plays in everyday life. Overall, the discussions contain valuable insights into the descriptive and often deceptive powers of Italian fiction; they also push us to understand the implications – and perhaps the consequences – of literary treatments of violence better than we have been able to grasp so far.

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Cycling in Italy, past and present

Great Rivalries. Cycling and the Story of Italy by Kevin Andrews with a Foreword by Simon Gerrans will be launched at 199 Faraday Street, Carlton on Tuesday 28 May 2019 at 6.30pm. It is the story of Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi and the champion Italian cyclists who preceded them but it is also about the place of cy­cling in a nation emerging from division, an agrarian past, wide­spread impoverishment, and competing vi­sions about cre­ating a modern state. Kevin Andrews, who will be at the launch, began working as a sports commen­tator and race caller from the age of 17. For a dec­ade, he called many sporting events before pursuing a career in the law and public life. He has written about sport for a number of publications and has been a guest commen­tator for track cycling. He is a keen recreational cyclist and intermittent Masters’ competitor. His youngest son rides for a UCI Conti­nental Team.

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Romantic adventures; the Free Cinema movement; and an 18th century duel

This week’s TLS (March 29) is a special issue devoted to European culture which includes three very informative pieces on Italian writers. David Robey reviews the first two volumes of the eventual four volumes on Emilio Salgari (1862-1911) by Ann Lawson Lucas. Salgari’s adventure romances, Robey suggests, all contain the defining features of the genre: ‘heroes of exceptional strength and prowess and heroines of remarkable beauty; idealised passionate love; plots made up of travel, chance events and physical conflict or struggle’ (features generated exclusively by Salgari’s imagination and his life in the library stacks since he never left Italy and had to spend all his time writing). Then Anna Coatman reviews the English translation of the lively London diaries of the film director Lorenza Mazzetti (she announced ‘I’m a genius’ when she first arrived at the Slade School of Fine Art from work on a potato farm and the Slade’s director invited her to come back the next day). She became one of the founders of the Free Cinema movement (‘Perfection is not an aim. An attitude means a style. A style means an attitude’) along with Karel Reisz, Lindsay Anderson and Tony Richardson. Finally, Joseph Farrell describes the duel (‘Pistols for two and coffee for one’) fought, or at least performed, in 1766 between Giacomo Casanova and Count Franciszek Branicki. Branicki was the more seriously wounded but the duellists continued to exchange good wishes daily for their respective recoveries.

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Il plotone perduto: il 26 marzo 1944

Il 26 marzo del 1944, settantacinque anni fa, quindici soldati italoamericani furono trucidati dai nazisti ad Ameglia in Liguria dopo il fallimento di una missione di sabotaggio. Un episodio quasi trascurato dagli storici: e i quindici soldati sono ricordati solo da una lapide in un borgo remoto. Il 26 marzo, al Centro Studi Americani di Roma (via Caetani 32), si è tenuto un convegno con dibattito e approfondimento della storia del “plotone perduto” con interventi dello storico Massimo Teodori, il Procuratore generale della Corte militare d’appello, Marco De Paolis, il vicedirettore di Repubblica, Gianluca Di Feo, il vicedirettore di Rai Cultura, Giuseppe Giannotti, e il presidente della Oss Society, Charles Pinck. La Repubblica (Rep) ha raccontato il massacro, con una versione anche in inglese.

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INDELIBLE / INDELEBILE – NEW DEADLINE OF THE CALL FOR PAPERS

The new deadline for the submission of paper proposals to the international Interdisciplinary conference, INDELIBLE / INDELEBILE  – Representation in the arts of (in)visible violence against women and their resistance, supported by ACIS on 23-25 October 2019 at Flinders University in Adelaide (South Australia), is 30 March 2019 (details for submissions below). Our interdisciplinary conference aims to contribute to the ‘glocal’ conversation on the topic of gendered violence and at the same time raise awareness of the global extent of the problem by analysing ways in which both such violence and resistance to it are represented in the arts. While a key strand of the conference will concern the arts in contemporary Italy, its scope will be broad, encouraging comparison with other societies across space and time. Keynote speakers will be Dacia Maraini (accompanied by a performance of her Passi affrettati) and Sarah Wendt. We welcome papers engaging with any of the following (and associated) topics, in relation to poetry, literature, theatre, opera, music, cinema or other visual arts: Continue reading

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CIVIL SOCIETY AND RECONCILIATION. VOICES FROM POST-WAR JAPAN, GER­MANY, AND ITALY

22 September 1984

Lasting reconciliation with former enemies after a war is a difficult and distressing process. Yet, beyond the war crimes trials, public discussion of Sec­ond World War crimes in West Germany, Italy and Japan in the post-war period was extremely sparse. Controversies over the responsibilities for key events remain today. CO.AS.IT, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, will host, as a free event, a discussion of the project Civil Society and Reconciliation introduced by its directors Claudia Astarita and Akihiro Ogawa (Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne) on Thursday 28 March 2019, 6.30-8pm at 199 Faraday Street, Carlton, VIC, followed by the screening of the project’s documentary and remarks by Riccardo Brizzi (University of Bologna) and Laura Fontana (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, Paris). Their descriptions of their own work can be found here.    Continue reading

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