Category Archives: Culture and Society

A future for Italy’s ‘ghost towns’?

Kristen Sloan   University of Wollongong

Roghudi Vecchio, Calabria (Saverio Barbaro, 2009)

More than 5000 historical hamlets and rural and medieval villages in Italy have been in serious population decline (Serico Gruppo Cresme, 2008). Many were abandoned in the last century and today have become ‘ghost towns’. While long neglected as topics for cultural policy or academic study, a recent wave of political and popular interest in Italy’s borghi, coupled with an increasing number of initiatives to resuscitate them, suggest that their presumed destinies of decline, ruin and oblivion may have to be revised. Concern for Italy’s emptying towns is not an isolated phenomenon but part of a recent explosion of interest and action in abandoned sites throughout the world (De Silvey & Edensor, 2012). Today conversations about abandoned places are characterised by new ways of describing, perceiving and interacting with them: no longer as rubbish but as resources.    Continue reading

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Remembering Primo Levi

As part of the initiative Primo Levi: Writer, Witness, Scientist which commemorates the centenary of Levi’s birth, Paul Forgasz will give a talk on Italia Ebraica: The Jews of Italy. A historical perspective, on Tuesday 19 November 2019, 6.30-8pm, at 199 Faraday Street, Carlton VIC 3053 (free event, RSVP essential here). The Italian Jewish narrative does not fit neatly into the conventional divisions of the Jewish Diaspora: Mizrahi (Middle Eastern/North African), Sephardi (Spanish) and Ashkenazi (Franco-German). Indeed, there are maps of the Jewish world in which Italy is depicted as a distinctive and unusually complex sub-culture. The Jewish community in Rome is one of the oldest surviving diasporas, its antiquity reflected in a distinctive Roman liturgical rite still in use today. Italy has also been home to an Ashkenazi community since the late Middle Ages, and then, in the wake of the expulsion from Spain in 1492, a Sephardi community. Rabbis and scholars thus lived within the boundaries of traditional Jewish communities whilst simultaneously contributing to the cultural and intellectual traditions of the wider society of which they were a part. Paul Forgasz will provide a survey of the very rich and variegated history of the Jews of Italy: from their earliest presence in Roman times, to the highs and lows of the medieval Jewish experience, through to Italian Jewry’’s encounter with modern world.    Continue reading

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The sense of place on page and screen

Two current talks emphasise the importance of the specific local setting for the central action in Italian fiction. First, Barbara Pezzotti (Monash) has begun a series of SBS podcasts on the Italian gialli (romanzi criminali) with a piece on gialli in Milan. She discusses the changing role of the city itself, first the centre, then the periphery, as portrayed by authors from Giorgio Scerbanenco (eg Traditori di tutti, 1966) to Rosa Teruzzi (eg La fioraia del Giambellino, 2017). Her forthcoming city-centred analyses will include Turin, Bologna and Rome. Second, Mark Nicholls (Melbourne) concludes his talks on classic Italian films – Roma città aperta (Rossellini, 1945), Ladri di biciclette (De Sica, 1948), La dolce vita (Fellini, 1959), Il conformista (Bertolucci, 1970) and Morte a Venezia (Visconti, 1971) – with a discussion of Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Tornatore, 1988) on Tuesday 22 Oct 2019, 6.30-8pm. at 199 Faraday St, Carlton, VIC 3053 (free event – RSVP essential here). Tornatore’s depiction of small-town life in Sicily after 1945 is the essential background for understanding the place of cinema-going in the creation of collective memory and (often) nostalgia.

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Indelible/Indelebile Conference in Adelaide: associated events

The VPS Research Group has organised a number of free Italian events/performances open to the public and linked to its international interdisciplinary conference Indelible (Eng) / Indelebile (It) – Representation in the arts of (in)visible violence against women and their resistance, to be held at Flinders University at Victoria Square, Adelaide, on 23-25 October 2019. The links to the various options can be found on the conference webpage under ‘Visual and Performing Arts Events’. All events are part of La Settimana della Lingua Italiana nel Mondo/The Italian Language Week in the World and there is also another free performance (in Italian): Affabulazioni. Storie, fatti e fattacci, narrati da un Giullare pazzo e una Musicista con la testa fra le nuvole (in Italian). This performance is organised by the Italian Consulate in Adelaide at UniSA at 6.30pm on 23 October. Book online here through the eventbrite website which has details of the location.

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Where is Parnassus now?

Dear Muses? Essays in Poetry by Simon West (Puncher & Wattmann, 2019), a book of essays on Australian and Italian poetry, and especially on the presence of Classical and Renaissance literature in Austral­ia today, will be launched on Wed 9 Oct 2019, 6.30-8pm, at CO.AS.IT, 199 Faraday St, Carlton 3053. Does it make sense to invoke the Muses today? Few of us believe our poems will be better for praying to stola-clad women sitting on a mountain in Greece. Simon West asks the reader to consider the Muse as something more – a vehicle for acknowledging cultural legacies that radiate out from the past and into contemporary Australia. In addressing the Muses we talk to that inheritance. He examines our metaphors for reaching back after inspiration, imagining that heritage, rivers that nourish the red gums across floodplains. He ranges widely, bridging Classical and European interests with a celebration of Australian poets, while asking, always, where is Parnassus now? Continue reading

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Cassamarca lecturer Luciana D’Arcangeli opens the SAGA Adelaide Film Festival

Luciana D'Arcangeli with Mona Khazim

Luciana D’Arcangeli, Cassamarca Lecturer at Flinders University, was recently invited to open the second SAGA Adelaide Women’s International Film Festival. Inaugurated in Stockholm, and dedicated to showcasing the work of amateur as well as professional female film makers, this year’s Adelaide SAGA showed a selection of 36 films. SBS’s Magica Fossati recorded this interview with Dr D’Arcangeli (pictured at left together with Mona Khazim the founder of SAGA).

 

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Gli italiani che se ne vanno

Un fascicolo recente della rivista Il Mulino (2018, n.6), Viaggio tra gli italiani all’estero, offre un ritratto dettagliato della nuova emigrazione italiana. Diviso in tre parti – dati, esperienza, rappresentazione – il ritratto si basa non solo sui numeri e sul quadro sociologico dell’emigrazione ma anche su descrizioni in prima persona dei soggiorni all’estero (motivi della partenza, esperienze in nuove città. possibilità o meno di ritorno). Ci sono rapporti da molti paesi, offrendo un panorama che cerca di comprendere la reale natura di un fenomeno che, come dice la presentazione, è ‘assai variegato, difficile da cogliere e molto spesso presentato per stereotipi’. L’Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Melbourne (233 Domain Rd, South Yarra) ospiterà un dibattito in inglese sul tema, Thursday August 29, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, con contributi di Robert Pascoe, Delfina Licata e Francesco Ricatti.

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Celebrating Italian Studies at UWA

The series of public lectures celebrating Italian Studies at UWA (where the first lectureship in Italian in Australia was established in 1929) continues. Following an introduction by John Kinder, the talks, which can be heard by clicking on the title links below, have been given by Robert Hollingworth (‘Shaping the invisible: Images reflected in music‘), Stefano Carboni (‘Venice and the Ottomans: A visual artistic journey between the Serenissima and Istanbul‘) and Susan Broomhall (‘Missing Magnificence: Tracing Catherine de Medici’s hidden cultural legacy‘). The series continues on 13 August, 6pm-7pm, Murdoch Lecture Theatre, UWA Arts Building, with a lecture by Catherine Kovesi on Italy and the Invention of Luxury. Luxury as a concept and practice has a long and often sordid past from which it has never entirely freed itself. Italy is at the heart of luxury throughout its chequered history, from its fifteenth-century definition and first articulations to its broader manifestations in present-day luxury brands and the untrammelled consumption of our age.

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Special issue of Fulgor “Intercultural Aspects of Translation, Interpreting and Communication”

Giorgione, La tempesta

Luciana d’Arcangeli and Tets Kimura, both of Flinders University in South Australia, have guest edited the latest issue (July 2019, v.6, no.1) of the journal Fulgor. Dedicated to “Intercultural Aspects of Translation, Interpreting and Communicating“, this issue showcases the work of postgraduate students, all of whom presented at the AUSiT National Conference held in Adelaide in November 2018. Apart from the introductory essay by the editors, and the article by Junko Ichikawa on the applicability of theory to the work of translation, of particular interest to Italian Studies is the analysis by Luisa Conte (RMIT) of a translation into English of a notarial deed dealing with the legal management of the estate of a recently deceased property owner in the city of Pisa and containing a detailed description of the estate, including its residential and business assets.

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ACIS – Save Venice fellowships for 2019

ACIS is very pleased to announce that Jen McFarland and Emma Barron have been awarded ACIS – Save Venice Fellowships for 2019.

Jen McFarland’s project, Pizzochere and public presence in late fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Venice, is a study of pizzochere (lay religious women), examining their identity, social status, and activities and drawing on material in the Archivio Storico Patriarcale di Venezia and the Archivio di Stato di Venezia, as well as painting cycles in the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Pizzochere groups held a significant social and charitable function in sixteenth-century Venice, offering vital spaces of assistance and agency for women of varied (but mostly vulnerable) social backgrounds.

Emma Barron’s project, Popular access to ideas about the modern world through mass culture in post-war Italy, examines social change and media coverage of the Venice Art Biennale and Venice Film Festival in the late 1960s, using materials from the Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia, Archivio dello Stato and the Biblioteca della Fondazione Querini Stampalia. She will analyse ideas about Venice as a site of glamour, wealth and film-stars and the events that led to Venice becoming a site of protest during the 1968 student demonstrations at the 34th Venice Art Biennale and the 29th Venice Film Festival.

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