Category Archives: Contemporary

Mona Lisa Covergirl

Emma Barron’s just-published Popular High Culture in Italian Media, 1950-1970 (Palgrave, 2018) is an essential and engaging contribution to the study of Italian mass culture. The book’s subtitle, ‘Mona Lisa Covergirl’, points to the originality of its theme: how Italian high culture was deployed to create a distinctive form of mass culture in the post-1945 expansion of television and popular magazines. Pasolini and Quasimodo providing advice to readers of Tempo (Pasolini: ‘The letters are enjoyable: some of them even give me a profound joy, even if as brief as a flash’),  Mike Bongiorno promoting knowledge of the classics through Lascia o raddoppia? (15 million viewers weekly), Il barbiere di Siviglia as the first opera to be transmitted on Italian tv (1954, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini), Giacomo Puccini endorsing Odol mouthwash (‘Lodo l’ODOL, LO DOLce licor che LO DOLore del dente scaccia di sovente’), Shakespeare’s lines used to sell pasta (Barilla), liquor (Amaretto di Saronno) and chocolates (Baci Perugina), I promessi sposi drawing mass tv audiences (19 million) and readerships (magazines, fotoromanzi, comics) – this study of the intertwining of the classic and the contemporary provides a fresh and productive account of the development of Italian mass culture.

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The Leopard at 60

The 60th anniversary of the publication of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard will be celebrated at the University of Melbourne on 12-14 November 2018. On 12 November the writer Simonetta Agnello-Hornby will give an open public lecture, The North and South in 20th Century Italy and the Effect of ‘The Leopard’ in Sicily and in Europe, examining the impact of di Lampedusa’s major work, in book and film (Visconti, 1963) form, in Sicily itself and on European views of Sicilians. The lecture, 5.30-6.30pm in the Forum Theatre (North Wing), Arts West Building (153), at the University of Melbourne, is the prelude to a 2-day symposium, Sicily, Italy and the Supranational Cultural Imaginary, convened by Mark Nicholls (Melbourne), Gregoria Manzin (La Trobe), Annamaria Pagliaro (Monash) and Agnese Bresin (Melbourne and La Trobe) on 13-14 November, 10.00am-5.00pm at the Interactive Cinema, Arts West 353, at the University of Melbourne. The symposium, open to all, will cover many aspects of di Lampedusa’s work, along with analyses of Visconti’s film  and a variety of Sicilian texts, art works and historical events. Registration for the lecture is here. For further information on the lecture and the symposium, contact Mark Nicholls.   Continue reading

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Beauty and Beast: Venice and the rhino

In 1751 Pietro Longhi painted this portrait of the rhinoceros, Clara, brought to the Venice Carneval that year. He depicted the animal eating quietly, indifferent to its owner (carrying the horn which had rubbed off) and to the masked and other spectators in the casotto behind it. Nearly three centuries later the rhinoceros returns to Venice in the form of a symposium, Beauty and the Beast: Venice and the Rhino, on 24 November and an accompanying exhibition, Rhinoceros: Luxury’s Fragile Frontier, 24 November – 21 December, both at the Palazzo Contarini Polignac. The exhibition title reveals the central theme. Both Venice and the rhinoceros are now luxury objects and both are threatened by the desire they evoke. The symposium brings together artists, conservationists, poets, writers, and historians to explore the unexpected intersections between these two endangered objects of luxury consumption. The exhibition presents the works of two artists concerned about issues of fragility and identity in relation to their personal and wider worlds and that of the rhinoceros. Their sculptural creations will be framed against the background of a ‘demand reduction’ marketing campaign which targets the consumption of rhino horn.

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The book, the photo and the stork

Photos move us. They enable us to travel virtually to wherever the scene is captured. They also move us by provoking emotions unleashed by the picture. Travel photography illustrates this double power especially clearly as Giorgia Alù argues in her just-published Journeys Exposed: Women’s Writing, Photography and Mobility (Routledge, 2018). The writers and photographers analysed (Melania Mazzucco, Ornela Vorpsi, Monika Bulaj, Carla Cerati, Elena Gianini Belotti and Anna Maria Riccardi) are variously related to Italy: Italians, Italophones, migrants or expatriates to Italy, or through hyphenated adjectives of nationality, as Italian-American or Italian-Australian. The book begins with an anecdote recounted by Karen Blixen. During a stormy night a man has to go out to fix a leakage in his pond’s dam. He stumbles around, falls over, and takes wrong paths but next morning he sees that the tracks his boots have left in the mud trace the outline of a stork. The stork provides an unsuspected unity for his apparently random movements but one which only becomes visible a posteriori and from a distance. Such traces expose the form of movements, underlying or unintended, in lives, texts and photographs but, like photographs, the form requires the technical processes of exposure to be seen.

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The Italianist 2018: Italian films, Peter Bondanella, Chris Wagstaff

The latest volume of The Italianist ( 2018, vol.38, no.2) is devoted to film. The first part opens with discussions of the relations – real, imagined, intended, inadvertent – between films and their audiences: the Fascist promotion of Italian fiction films in the US in the 1930s, and the creation of the once much-scorned but now revalued ‘casalinga di Voghera‘. A series of diverse analyses follows: the impact of the planned, begun but never completed films on the anni di piombo on the difficulties of representing 1970s Italy; the Dantean resonances in Pasolini’s Salò; Sorrentino’s aesthetic strategy in portraying Giulio Andreotti in Il Divo; and the interplay of aesthetics and politics in authorial interventions in recent documentaries. The second part is a celebration in many voices of the lives and works of Peter Bondanella and Chris Wagstaff, two leading scholars who have left large and enduring contributions to the analysis of Italian cinema.

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Lavazza Film Festival 2018

Le presentazioni speciali del 2018 Lavazza Italian Film Festival in Australia saranno: Lazzaro Felice di Alice Rohrwacher; Dogman di Matteo Garrone; Euforia dell’attrice e regista Valeria Golino; e le commedie come Ammore e Malavita dei Manetti Bros. Quest’anno il Festival celebra inoltre l’opera del regista e sceneggiatore Ferzan Özpetek con una retrospettiva che includerà alcuni dei suoi capolavori tra cui Le Fate Ignoranti e Mine vaganti. Il programma completo verrà annunciato in agosto.   Continue reading

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Address practices in Italian

 

The International Pragmatics Asssociation conference, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 9-14 June 2019, will include a panel on Address practices in Italian, convened by Agnese Bresin (University of Melbourne), now calling for paper proposals by 1 October 2018. Addressing each other is a complex operation, in which speakers position themselves and their interlocutors in some form of relationship. With their strong link to situational and cultural contexts and to basic demographic features of the interlocutors, address practices reveal perceived identities and human relations as well as wider social changes. The under-explored Italian case is of particular interest in this field of study for a number of reasons: the status and geographical distribution of “voi” in relation to “tu” and “lei”, the significant diatopic variation expected, and the complex relationship between regional varieties of Italian and the so-called ‘Italian dialects’.
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ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in Italy in 2019

ACIS is offering UP TO THREE scholarships worth $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 2019. 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. The scholarships are available to students who are currently enrolled, full-time or part-time, in Master by research or PhD degrees in a university in Australia or New Zealand and who are engaged in research projects in any of the following areas of Italian Studies: archaeology and classical antiquities, language, literature, culture, history, politics and society, including migration studies. Full details of the scholarships, eligibility, and the application process can be found here. The deadline for submission of applications is SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER 2018.

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Italians in Australia: past and present

Few recent historians or social scientists have written extended studies of Italians in Australia. Several collections – different authors analysing particular aspects of Italian lifeworlds – have appeared but Gianfranco Cresciani’s The Italians in Australia (CUP, 2003, updating his 1985 original) is the only example of an overall treatment. Now Francesco Ricatti’s Italians in Australia. History, Memory, Identity (Palgrave, 2018) aims to incorporate the demographic, social and cultural evidence gathered over the past twenty years (notably Loretta Baldassar on international caring, Antonia Rubino on language use, Catherine Dewhirst on the press, Simone Battiston and Bruno Mascitelli on politics) and integrate it into an overall portrayal of the Italian communities past and present. Work, family, language, religion, and politics are the organising topics, treated to emphasize – unlike many of the older discussions of such communities – the ways in which immigrants actively shape their own lives within well-known  institutional, social and cultural constraints. The outcome is valuable on two levels: as an introduction to the current literature for students and as a survey of issues for future scholarly research.

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Addio a Carlo Vanzina (1951-2018)

 

Gino Moliterno    ANU

Son of veteran director, Steno (Stefano Vanzina) and younger brother of Enrico, who produced and regularly co-wrote most of his more than 60 films, Carlo Vanzina (1951-2018) could probably, more than any other Italian director, lay claim to have lived his whole life in films. At the age of only one he had appeared in a cameo as the cute infant in Totò e le donne, one of the many films that Steno had directed for that inimitable “prince of comedy”, Antonio de Curtis. After graduating from the Lycée Chateaubriand in Rome, the young Carlo nurtured hopes of becoming a film critic but was inevitably drawn into a more active role in the cinema, first as an assistant on a handful of his father’s films and then serving a more challenging apprenticeship as assistant director to that other great practitioner of the commedia all’italiana, Mario Monicelli. In a recent interview Vanzina had remembered how Monicelli regularly gave him a hard time on the set, a practice that he had at first resented but had later understood to be the older director’s way of better teaching him all the finer points of the craft of filmmaking.    Continue reading

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