Welcome to ACIS, the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies – a connection-point for the specialised communities of Italianist scholars in Australasia and beyond.
Melbourne’s Italian Institute of Culture and Connor Court Publishing will be launching The Heart and the Abyss – The Life of Felice Benuzzi by Rory Steele, who will be present for the occasion, on Thursday 18 August at 6 pm at the Italian Institute, 233 Domain Road, South Yarra (rsvp to Bruno Mascitelli or phone (03) 9214 5363). Felice Benuzzi (1910-1988) represented Italy as a swimmer (breaststroke), colonial adminstrator and diplomat. His best-known exploit, recounted in his No Picnic on Mount Kenya (1947) and here in an interview for the RAI (1987), was to break out of his POW camp in 1943 to scale the second-highest mountain in Africa, with no maps and only handmade gear, returning to the camp to report to a bemused British commandant seventeen days later (the col between Point Dutton and the Petit Gendarme on Mount Kenya was named Benuzzi Col in his honour). Decorated for bravery in combat, he served as consul in Berlin and ambassador to Uruguay, ending his career as Head of the Italian Delegation for the Antarctic. A passionate mountaineer, he was a founder-member of the environmental group Mountain Wilderness. The author of this biography, Rory Steele, was Australia’s ambassador to Italy 1997-2001.
ACIS is calling for submissions – essay or creative work with exegesis – for the biennial Prize in memory of Jo-Anne Duggan to be awarded in 2017. Jo-Anne was a talented photo-media artist and scholar whose engagement in original ways with Italian culture and history won great admiration. Her work, viewable at The Colour Factory and illustrated by the backdrop to our home page, dealt in particular with Italian Renaissance material culture seen through what she called her ‘postcolonial eye’. The Prize is worth $1000 for the best essay or creative work with exegesis and $250 each for up to two runners-up. It is open to early career researchers, postgraduates and undergraduates from Australia and New Zealand and will be awarded for essays or creative work on a topic which draws on Jo-Anne’s work and inspiration. The deadline for submissions is 3 March 2017. Full details on eligibility and submissions, as well as guidelines for creative works and their exegeses, can be found under Prize on the ACIS menu.
The latest issue of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies (vol.21, 3, 2016) has a set of articles on the nature of contemporary Catholicism and its relations to politics in Italy today. Did the election of Pope Francis mark a decisive shift in Catholic policy and practice, especially in the social field? How much and among whom does the call to preserve ‘Catholic values’, however understood, have force today? To what extent has the Church developed a politically serviceable stance on the religious pluralism which comes with immigration and on the personal spirituality which follows institutional disaffection? Has the disappearance of Christian Democracy and the dispersal of its inheritance and inheritors across many parties destroyed any chance of the resurrection of political Catholicism?
That was Giacomo Leopardi as described by an English diarist who met him in Florence in 1831. The latest issue of the TLS (July 8) has a review by Joseph Luzzi of recent translations of Leopardi: the Zibaldone (edited by Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino, translated by Kathleen Baldwin et al) and Passions (a selection of reflections on the emotions, translated by Tim Parks). The reviewer concludes: ‘It is not easy making one’s way through so conflicted and labyrithine a mind and the risk of losing oneself is great – but, to quote Leopardi, it is sweet to be shipwrecked in such a sea’. Yale UP hosts a conversation with Parks in which he talks about Passions; and the blog/podcast TLS Voices carries Parks’ reading from Leopardi on desperation as well as his thoughts on translating the writer.
The Australian Journal of Crime Fiction has just published a special issue, ‘Place and Culture in Italian Crime Fiction‘, edited by Barbara Pezzotti and Brigid Maher and available free online (vol.2, no.1, 2016). The editors discuss the ways that authors have used crime fiction to depict, criticise or endorse features of local and national society; they also note the shifting meaning of ‘impegno’ and its historically controversial application to the genre. Andrea Camilleri is the central figure in several contributions: Emilio Lomonaco examines the relation of his style to traditions of Sicilian story-telling; Giuliana Pieri interviews him on the nature of European and his own crime fiction; and Alistair Rolls explores issues of translatability through the English version of La forma dell’acqua (1994). Margie Michael identifies the sense of placelessness that characterises works by Roberto Costantini and the New Zealand author Paul Cleave; and Piera Carroli unravels the multicultural complexities of Marilù Oliva’s trilogy set in Bologna: Tù la pagaras!, Fuego and Mala suerte (2010-12). Finally, capturing in her title the protagonist’s equal interest in toxicology and designer handbags, Brigid Maher offers a translation of the first two chapters of Alessia Gazzola’s L’allieva (2012).
The University of Sydney Postgraduate History Conference is calling for papers for its upcoming ‘Historical Identities’ symposium, to be held on 24-25 November 2016 in the Quadrangle at the University of Sydney. Registration is free. Abstracts from postgraduates and early-career researchers involved in any field, period or geographical area of history, including interdisciplinary approaches, are welcome; postgraduates from other states and universities are also encouraged to apply. Abstracts should be approximately 200 words accompanied by a 100 word bio, submitted via our website. The deadline for submissions is by close of business on 31 August 2016. Those who simply wish to attend are welcome: they should register on the website for catering purposes. Enquiries should be sent here.
The Australasian Centre for Italian Studies (ACIS), supported by the Cassamarca Foundation (Treviso), is offering UP TO THREE scholarships worth A$6,000 each to provide postgraduate students at an Australian or New Zealand university with the opportunity to work on a research project in Italy in 2017. For one of the awards, the Dino De Poli Scholarship which honours the President of the Cassamarca Foundation, preference may be given to applications for research on any aspect of the culture, history and society of North East Italy. Details of eligibility and the application procedure are available here, accompanied by guidelines for describing projects. The closing date for applications is Friday 14 October 2016.
The 2016 IIC Prize for Italian Literary Translation, presented by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Melbourne, in collaboration with AALITRA (Australian Association for Literary Translation) and Monash University, has been announced. The Prize, open to Australian citizens resident in Victoria, SA, WA or Tasmania, will be awarded for a translation of the short story ‘Il Pannello’ by Erri De Luca, taken from his In alto a sinistra (Feltrinelli 2014). The winner will receive a return flight to Rome, one month’s accommodation there and a contribution of $3000 to a translation study project. For more information, and to obtain a copy of the ‘bando di concorso’, please email IIC Melbourne to which submissions should also be sent. The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2016.
South Tyrol, situated on the border between Austria and Italy, has been considered a ‘peace model’ by many nation-states since the creation of the province’s autonomy statutes. The aim of those statutes was to allow for minority protection of the German- and Ladin-speaking communities while also permitting Austria to be the ‘protector’ of South Tyrol even though the province is situated in Italy. A by-product of the statutes was the creation of the ‘separate but equal’ education system, which allowed the German-, Italian- and Ladin-speaking communities to have individual schools in order to protect their culture and language identity. In recent years marriages between members of different language groups have increased and a requirement for applicants for certain civil service positions to have an adequate comprehension of the L2 or in some cases L3 has been imposed. In ‘Half spaghetti-half Knödel: cultural division through the lens of language learning‘ Anne Wand has examined how the South Tyrolean school system has coped with the changing circumstances and with the pressures to move to an increasingly bilingual society.
The 9th Biennial ACIS conference, Scontri e incontri: the dynamics of Italian transcultural exchanges, hosted in association with the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, will be held at the Monash University Centre in Prato, Italy, on 4-7 July 2017. The conference will explore sites of contact, connection and exchange in the Italian context. Some can be understood as open sites of interaction and juxtaposition in which people, goods and ideas from across the globe come and go and which are shaped by important trajectories of trade or distinctive histories of colonialism, imperialism or globalisation. When encounters occur in contexts of asymmetrical relations of power, no exchange or contact is present without an inherent confrontation. Language is used to create or manipulate perceptions that are formed when worlds collide. It turns contact into an uneven exchange, such as colonisation, modern warfare and even gender relations. What are the repercussions of such uneven exchanges? How can examining these notions and their representations help illuminate common debates around identity (politics), ideology, globalisation and crisis, human rights, memory and history, the environment, and individual bodies, among others? Conversely, how can we better understand the potential of modern diasporas to connect cultures and lead to collaboration and renewal, through the establishment of wider-ranging networks and positive forms of exchange? The organisers are now calling for paper and panel proposals, to be submitted here, by 31 October 2016.