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

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War in the Sunshine: the British in Italy 1917-1918

estorick-collection-1024x858This is the title of the current exhibition at the newly renovated Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Highbury, London. The Collection, opened in 1998, concentrates on Futurist paintings (Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà) and works by Giorgio De Chirico, Amedeo Modigliani, Giorgio Morandi and Mario Sironi. ‘War in the Sunshine‘ (13 Jan – 19 March) covers the largely forgotten British participation in the final stages of the war on one of its most difficult and dangerous fronts – North East Italy – depicted by official war artists (Sidney Carline, himself a pilot) and photographers (Ernest Brooks and William Brunell).

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‘Almost spectral in their otherness’

410martin_bogren_italia_special_edition_with_printThat’s a reviewer’s comment on the way the people captured in Martin Bogren’s recent Italia (Max Ström 2016) look.  The Swedish photographer spent three years in Naples, Palermo, Bologna and Turin to produce a black-and-white portrayal of streets and subjects which seem suspended in time. ‘Been wandering around for days now. Street after street. With a heavy heart and loneliness as a constant companion. I’ve forgotten why I’m here and what I’m doing. A camera clutched in my hand, increasingly fearful, with a cowardly posture’.  You can see the striking results of this apparently forlorn enterprise here.

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Shirley Hazzard (Sydney 1931 – New York 2016)

Brigitta Olubas   University of New South Wales

220px-shirley_hazzard_australian_writer_mercantile_library_for_fiction_benefit_awards_dinner_october_29_2007_photo_by_christopher_petersonShirley Hazzard was an author admired for the self-reflectiveness, delicacy of phrasing, wit and irony, intensely personal resonance and finely realised sense of place which characterised both her fictional and non-fictional writings. Italy played a fundamental part in her life and work. Her first year there, 1956, was spent in Tuscany where she established a close friendship with the Vivante family, artists, philosophers and writers, and developed the penetrating eye into social relationships of love and loss analysed in her novels set in Italy and elsewhere. She returned regularly to Naples and to Capri for the rest of her life and was made an honorary citizen of Capri in 2000. She often underlined her debt to Italy: “From the first day (in Naples), everything changed. I was restored to life and power and thought.” The point was never simply personal but rather bound to the persistence of humanist art and thought there: “In Italy, the mysteries remain important: the accidental quality of existence, the poetry of memory, the impassioned life that is animated by awareness of eventual death. There is still synthesis, rather than formula. There is still expressive language.”   Continue reading

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Ministro o ministra? Sindaco o sindaca?

bg_articolo_standard-1The 2016 issue of Gender/sexuality/Italy, an annual peer-reviewed journal which publishes research on gendered identities and the ways they intersect with and produce Italian politics, culture and society, is devoted to the question of language and gender. The editor, Nicoletta Marini-Maio, sets in a historical and linguistic context the issues raised by how to address the minister Maria Elena Boschi and the mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi. Other contributions include an analysis of the ways violence against women is presented in the media, the importance of gender, age and immediate context in determining variations between male and female language use, and a review of Over the Rainbow City. Towards a New LGBT Citizenship in Italy (2015) edited by Fabio Corbisiero.

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Scholarships for research in Venice

logo_ciniThe Fondazione Cini has issued a call for applications for two kinds of scholarship for research in Venice to be taken up between May 2017 and May 2018. The first is a 3-month residential scholarship for postdoctoral students aged under 40 (3 available, worth €6250 each), offered by the Vittore Branca International Centre for the Study of Italian Culture. The second is a 3-month residential scholarship (2 available, worth €6250 each) for PhD or postdoctoral students who are the children or grandchildren of Italian emigrants. In both cases the research projects must make use of the archives and materials held at the Foundation. Further details of the scholarships and the application procedure can be found via the links above.  The deadline for application for both scholarships is 10 March 2017.

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Un altro panettone!

Edda Orlandi   Università degli Studi di Milano

Qui in Milanesia ci si appresta a celebrare le tradizionali festività del reciproco scambio rituale di panettoni (Orlandi 2012), conosciuto nella letteratura come il Circuito Kula Natalizio.Panettone for EO post Come ogni anno, fervono i preparativi della tradizionale competizione per diventare la famiglia che riesce a rifilare più lievitati, arrivando al contempo a rimanere dopo Capodanno con un solo panettone (non uno di più, ma neanche senza panettoni, cfr. Orlandi 2014). Pur costatando un sostanziale rispetto delle tradizioni secolari già descritte da numerosi antropologi, durante il mio attuale soggiorno in Milanesia ho potuto notare alcune innovazioni, che rendono conto dei processi di globalizzazione che hanno recentemente investito anche queste terre remote.

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ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in Italy in 2017

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ACIS congratulates the three winners of the ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in Italy in 2017. Paola Di Trocchio (University of Technology Sydney) has been awarded the Dino De Poli Scholarship for her project, Reading fashion in the museum through a case study of Anna Piaggi, Walking Museum, which investigates the life and work of Anna Piaggi (1931-2012), journalist, stylist and Vogue Italia contributor, and her impact on fashion culture and the museum. Anna Piaggi was a major figure in design and fashion history in Italy and beyond. In The Machine and the Arch  Shayani Fernando (University of Sydney) will examine traditional stone architecture in Italy, seeking to learn from past masonry structures to build for the future, expanding our knowledge to improve the maintenance and restoration of sandstone buildings in Australia. She will investigate dry stone construction techniques in Alberobello and take up a position as scholar-in-residence in Bari. The project of Julie Robarts (University of Melbourne), The poetry and the person of Margherita Costa, is a study of the early published poetry and Lettere amorose of Roman virtuosa singer, Margherita Costa (c1600-1664). It will be the first philological study of Costa’s poetry, and the first cultural-historical study of her authorship.

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Risk-taking, city-living, document-losing, Baroque-deploying: Italy then and probably also now

the_cardsharps-300x213Four research projects related wholly or partly to Italy have been funded for 2017 and beyond by the Australian Research Council. In an exploration of the cultural history of capitalism Nic Baker (Macquarie) will be analysing how merchants and gamblers took financial risks, rational and irrational, in Renaissance Italy. Nick Eckstein (Sydney) will use the health records of the door-to-door ‘Visitation’ of every poor household in plague-ridden Florence in 1630 to illuminate everyday urban life as experienced by the otherwise voiceless inhabitants. John Gagné (Sydney) will be mapping the social and cultural effects of paper’s introduction to Europe from 1200-1800, focusing on both intended  (censorship, document suppression, prohibitions) and unintended (fires, rot, vermin) loss of documents and its consequences for repression and reinvention. Jaynie Anderson, Shane Carmody and Max Vodola (Melbourne) will track the unstinting efforts of the first Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, James Goold (1812-1886), an Irishman educated in Italy, to use his collection of books and Italian Baroque paintings to convey the intensity of European religious experience to congregations at risk of distraction by the gold discovered in Victoria in 1851.

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A tale of two journeys: the composition and publication of the Codice Rustici

codice-rustici-facsimile-olschki-itinerario-di-fede-firenze-gerusalemmeIn 1450 or thereabouts a Florentine goldsmith, Matteo di Bartolomeo Rustici, began to write down the story of a perhaps imaginary journey to the Holy Land a decade earlier. He relied heavily on his favourite readings, copying and abridging them, illustrating his accounts of places and events with detailed watercolours, frequently digressing from his main storyline to include instructions on Christian doctrine for pilgrims, potted biographies of saints, tales associated with the places visited, recommendations of cures for tarantula bites …. the result, in the words of Kathleen Olive and Nerida Newbigin, editors of the critical edition of the Codice Rustici, recently published (Olschki 2016) with a facsimile of the original and collection of essays, ‘resembling the worst kind of research uncritically cobbled together from internet sources’. The beautifully illustrated story of the text’s survival and its own journey towards publication is told by the editors here.

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Celebrating the Life of Dario Fo: “Contra Jogulatores Obloquentes”

Sally Grant   New York

Dario Fo died last Thursday, 13 October, at the age of 90. Rather than fumbling to find the right words to honour this great anarchic jester, we thought we’d let the masterful teller of yarns do it for us by linking to his acceptance speech for the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In “Contra Jogulatores Obloquentes” (“Against Jesters Who Defame and Insult”) Fo records his debt to earlier clowns and storytellers, particularly the actor-playwrights Ruzzante and Molière. Fo’s description of these men and the fear their art evoked could well describe his own theatrical skills and how he, along with his wife and frequent co-performer Franca Rame, were received by the political establishment:

“Above all, they were despised for bringing onto the stage the everyday life, joys and desperation of the common people; the hypocrisy and the arrogance of the high and mighty; and the incessant injustice. And their major, unforgivable fault was this: in telling these things, they made people laugh. Laughter does not please the mighty.”

But it pleases, and emboldens, the not-so-mighty. For those gifts, and as you take your last bow, Jester Fo, we give a standing ovation.

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