Category Archives: History

Remembering Modigliani (1884-1920)

2020 marks the centenary of the death of Amedeo Modigliani, the Italian artist who died young of tuberculosis in Paris after a life usually described as troubled. The Italian Institutes of Cultures of Sydney and Melbourne have joined forces to remember him by two free events: online projection of the film Les amants de Montparnasse (Montparnasse 19)  (9 July, 18.00-20.00, free, necessary to register here); and a webinar Modigliani – A Bohemian Life by Roberta Crisci (16 July, 18.30, again registration necessary here). The film is attributed to Max Ophuls as well as Jacques Richard since Ophuls, the intended director, wrote the script but died before the film could be shot.

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La tragedia del Vajont

La storia della diga del Vajont, che doveva essere il gioiello dell’energia idroelettrica italiana a cavallo tra il Veneto e il Friuli Venezia Giulia. Ultimatata nel 1960, la diga era la più alta in Europa e sottostava all’imponente Monte Toc. Tutto pareva essere normale nei tre anni che seguirono al completamento, fino a che il 9 ottobre 1963, 270 milioni di meri cubi di terreno si distaccarono dal fianco della montagna provocando la tracimazione della diga. Questo provocò un vero e proprio tsunami che si riversò sui paesi della valle, uccidendo piu di 2000 persone. La tragedia viene raccontata adesso in un documentario qui su Viceland.

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Pandemia 2020 in Italia

E’ uscito adesso un libro istantaneo, Pandemia 2020: La vita quotidiana in Italia con il Covid-19, curato da Alessandra Guigoni e Renato Ferrari, scaricabile gratis qui. Il libro, disponibile gratuito anche fra poco su Amazon, raccoglie i contributi originali di 28 autori e 12 ospiti, tra cui antropologi culturali, ricercatori delle scienze umane, sociali e biologiche, filosofi e linguisti, appartenenti a generazioni e a contesti lavorativi differenti, che hanno deciso di mettere a disposizione le loro competenze e i loro saperi per cercare di capire che cosa è accaduto e come possiamo uscire da questa drammatica situazione.

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Disease and death

‘They fell ill daily in their thousands … many fell dead in the open streets … such was the multitude of corpses there was not sufficient consecrated ground to bury them’.  And: ‘the plague came from afar … that part of the world called Asia’. A historian in 2120 describing the horrors of a century earlier? Extracts from a comparative study of plagues and pestilence? An epidemic seen from the grassroots today? No, Boccaccio and Villani talking of events in Italy as the Black Death and other disasters wreaked their havoc, as quoted by Tim Parks in the introduction to his dispatch from northern Italy, ‘Milan in a time of coronavirus‘ in this week’s TLS (March 20, 2020). For descriptions of life in the plague-ridden Florence of 1630, see the review in the LRB (20 March, 2020) of John Henderson’s Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City (Yale UP 2019).

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ITALIAN OPERA FROM THE MEDICI TO BELLINI

THIS LECTURE SERIES HAS HAD TO BE POSTPONED BECAUSE OF CURRENT PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS

Joseph Talia OAM, singer, artistic director, teacher and scholar, will be giving a series of talks on Italian opera from the Renaissance to Bellini between March and November 2020 at CO.AS.IT, 199 Faraday St, Carlton, from 6.30-8.00 pm on the last Tuesday of every month (except June). Entry is free, an aperitivo is included, but registration is requested. Apart from his teaching work, Maestro Talia is the author of the trilogy A History of Vocal Peda­gogy: Intuition and Science; Vocal Science for Elite Singers; and Italian Bel Canto in the Age of Vocal Science. Here is his description of each of the 8 lectures ……
Continue reading

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Art: high, low and mixed

The third issue (January 2020) of the open-access journal Modern Art of the Center for Italian Modern Art (New York), is dedicated to the proceedings of the conference “Methodologies of Exchange: MoMA’s Twentieth-Century Italian Art (1949)”. CIMA’s publications advance innovative scholarship in the area of twentieth-century Italian art and promote Italian modern artists who remain particularly understudied among US audiences. On a different front, the publication of Emma Barron’s book Popular High Culture in Italian Media 1950-1970: Mona Lisa Covergirl (Palgrave Macmillan 2018) has been very favourably received (Barron was one of the 2019 ACIS Save Venice Fellows). Here is the review  in the latest issue (2020) of the journal Modern Italy.

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Violence in the borderlands

Defined as ‘borderlands’ by Tracey Banivanua Mar, the sugar towns of North Queensland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries hosted a great variety of ethnic groups: Chinese, Indian, Japanese, ‘Malay’, Pacific Islander and later South European. Violence between members of different groups was common. In ‘Beyond whiteness: violence and belonging in the borderlands of North Queensland’ (Postcolonial Studies, February 2020, online ahead of publication) Maria Elena Indelicato examines the case of three South Sea Islanders attacking an Italian farmer in the city of Ingham in 1927. The motive behind that particular attack remains unknown. Indelicato treats it not as a random episode but as a sign of the way in which migrants were involved in the subjection of ‘natives’ and South Sea Islanders. Violence can thus be seen as a claim to belonging by migrants, Italian or not, and as a technology used by settlers to manage ‘undesired’ populations.

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Exploring Venice’s past and present

Jen McFarland, enrolled in a History MA at the University of Melbourne, spent September to December 2019 in Venice as an ACIS Save Venice Fellow researching the identity, status and activities of the pizzocchere (associations of lay religious women) in the city in the 16th century. It was not her first exploration of religion there. In 2019 the journal Renaissance Studies published her study of Catherine of Siena’s incorporation into the iconography held in the Dominican convent of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in the late 15th century, in particular the ways in which the convent wanted to emphasise Catherine’s status as a legitimate stigmatic and to promote the then-current Dominican reform. Jen has written an interesting piece summarising her recent stay in Venice which can be found here.

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ACIS Save Venice Fellowships 2020

ACIS is calling for applications for up to two ACIS Save Venice Fellowships for 2020. The Fellowships are based in Venice, open to postgraduate and early career researchers, cover the three months between mid-September and mid-December 2020, and are worth $8000 each. Fellows will be EITHER a current Masters or PhD candidate in any area of Italian Studies at an Australasian university OR a postdoctoral researcher in any area of Italian Studies within 3 years of successful completion of their Masters or PhD at an Australasian university. The Fellowship is designed for those researchers and scholars whose research and/or career can benefit in any way from a period in Venice and the use of the city’s substantial resources. ACIS expects that people working in the fields of History, Art History, Fine Art, Cultural and Media Studies, and Restoration and Museum Studies will be particularly interested, but applications will be welcome from any field across the humanities and social sciences. Further information about the Fellowships and the application process can be found here and on the page under Fellowships. The closing date for applications is 9 March, 2020.

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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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