Category Archives: History

Language Variation in Renaissance Italy

Josh Brown   Stockholm University

Renaissance Italy saw the creation of the Italian language and of most major European standard languages. In Italy itself, no political centre dominated the entire peninsular, so no standard language was immediately obvious. The dialect chosen for the standard had the most prestigious literary tradition – Florentine. The existing literature has shown how Florentine emerged as a dominant variety in Lombardy – a wealthy region particularly interesting for its mix of political centralisation and persisting local traditions – but it has focussed on literary texts, leaving an entire period of language evolution and variation unexplored in the belief that models of language variation and changes of literary standards will suffice to explain linguistic phenomena in non-literary texts. This bias has recently been discussed by Adam Ledgeway from the University of Cambridge in a lecture at NYU Florence. In my earlier research I looked at the spread of Tuscan in a corpus of non-literary merchant texts sent from Milan in the late 14th century. I am now extending this project to the analysis of the letters of a Milanese nun, Margherita Lambertenghi (?-1454), to produce an innovative conceptualisation of processes of language change in late medieval Lombardy. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli, Pirandello: Remo Bodei in Melbourne and Sydney

imagesThe philosopher Remo Bodei will be giving talks in Melbourne and Sydney in March. Time, eternity, history: Dante, Petrarch, Machiavelli is the title of his talk (in English) at the Italian Cultural Institute, 233 Domain Rd, South Yarra, on Thursday 9 March at 6.30pm (free, booking essential). On Friday March 10, at Co.As.It. – Museo Italiano, 199 Faraday Street, Carlton, he will be talking (in Italian) on Pirandello e la dissoluzione della personalità (free, booking essential), a lecture to mark the 150th anniversary of Pirandello’s birth. He will also be giving this talk in Sydney on 13 March, 4 – 5.30pm, in the Dept of Italian at the University of Sydney (registration here). On March 15, 6 – 7.30pm, he will talk on Memory and Forgetting: A Conflicting Complicity at the State Library of New South Wales (Metcalfe Auditorium, Macquarie Building: information for registration here) . For details of the contents of the talks Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

La storia intorno alle foibe

giorno-del-ricordo-febbraio-2017-600x412Istituito nel 2004 il Giorno del ricordo del 10 febbraio, data del trattato di pace del 1947 che assegnò all’allora Jugoslavia l’Istria e la maggior parte della Venezia Giulia,  vuole conservare ‘la memoria della tragedia degli italiani e di tutte le vittime delle foibe, dell’esodo dalle loro terre degli istriani, fiumani e dalmati nel secondo dopoguerra e della più complessa vicenda del confine orientale’. In cosa consiste la ‘più complessa vicenda’? Per la rivista Internazionale il collettivo Nicoletta Bourbaki ha chiesto a sette storici di rispondere alla domanda; le loro risposte, affrontando gli aspetti storici, sociali e politici dei conflitti e delle loro memorializzazioni, si trovano qui.

Tagged , ,

Terra nostra

terra_nostra_cover_web_1024x1024In Terra Nostra the Palermo-born photographer Mimi Mollica explores the effects of the mafia on Sicily, documenting the damage it has inflicted on the physical and social landscape of the island and painting a dark picture of extortion, corruption and claustrophobia. The view is bleak, seedy and haunting, the violence itself mostly off-stage but its consequences, direct and indirect, all too visible. Mollica’s photo-essay is introduced by one of the island’s most active anti-mafia magistrates, Roberto Scarpinato.

 

Tagged , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged ,

Immigrati italiani morti nel 1901, commemorati nel 2016

14391112736_c345b8f66e_b‘Dopo 115 anni è arrivato il tempo di onorare la memoria di uomini, donne, madri, padri, figli e figlie che hanno perso la vita in uno dei più tragici incidenti della storia degli Stati Uniti’. Queste sono le parole del sindaco che accompagnono un Memorial Service per commemorare almeno cento immigrati italiani morti in un devastante incidente ferroviario a Seneca (Michigan) la sera del 27 novembre 1901. La notizia della tragedia fece subito il giro del mondo ma le vittime, sconosciute e di un numero imprecisabile per l’intensità dell’impatto e delle fiamme, finirono nell’oblio, i pochi resti sepolti in cinque bare in un angolo anonimo del cimitero locale. Ieri, il 24 settembre 2016, il sindaco del paese ha dedicato una scultura-monumento alla loro memoria accanto al posto dove furono sepolte.

Tagged , ,

Italian Studies position at Monash

monash-university-logoThe Italian Studies program within the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University seeks to fill a continuing position at Level D or Level C (Associate Professor or Senior Lecturer) to be taken up from July 2017. The appointee will be an established scholar with a significant record of research in one or more of the following areas: contemporary or 20th Century Italian cultural, literary or film studies; medieval and/or renaissance Italian cultural or literary studies; applied linguistics; translation and intercultural studies. Interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcome.   The full position description and information on how to apply (closing date: Sunday 30 October 2016) is available here.

Tagged ,

Migration to Australia: recent arrivals from Italy

Riccardo Armillei (Deakin) & Bruno Mascitelli (Swinburne)

300px-Australian_Census_2011_demographic_map_-_Australia_by_SLA_-_BCP_field_1126_Italian_Total_Responses.svgBetween 1945 and 1983 some 400,000 Italians, usually unskilled and with limited education, came to Australia as ‘permanent and long term arrivals’, most arriving between 1952 and 1970. Thereafter the annual intake fell steadily. However, in recent years Australia has become a destination for a new generation of migrants from Italy – this time young highly-educated Italians seeking fresh opportunities. The earlier wave has been exhaustively studied by demographers, linguists and sociologists but little is known or understood about the recent migrants. While their small numbers hardly indicate a new ‘boom’ time (pace Dalla Bernadina, Grigoletti & Pianelli, 2013; Grigoletti & Pianelli, 2014, Marchese, 2014), their experiences are nonetheless worthy of investigation. To this end, we used surveys and focus groups to examine the temporary and permanent migration from Italy to Australia over the period between 2004, when the so-called Working Holiday Arrangement between the two states was agreed, and 2016 (Armillei & Mascitelli, 2016).   Continue reading

Tagged ,

Catholicism and politics after the DC

rmis20.v018.i02.coverThe 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?

Tagged , ,