Category Archives: History

Terra matta returns to Australia

The autobiography of Vincenzo Rabito (1899-1981), 1027 closely-packed pages of vivid description in a mix of Italian, Sicilian dialect and rabitese, has appeared in versions for the page (Terra matta, Einaudi 2007), stage (directed and performed by Vincenzo Pirrotta) and screen (terramatta;, directed by Costanza Quatriglio with a script by her and Chiara Ottaviano), presented in Australia in 2013 and 2015. A second, very different, version for the stage, by the actor-director Stefano Panzeri, will be performed in Melbourne on Tuesday  13 March  2018  at 6:30pm at the Museo Italiano in Carlton (free entry; RSVP essential). It will also be presented, under the title Oltreoceano, in Sydney on Friday 16 March at 6.30pm at the Canada Bay Club, incorporating not only extracts from Rabito’s text but also the stories of emigration offered by Italian members of the audiences at Panzeri’s performances in Europe and Latin America.

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Iris Origo remembered

In the latest issue  (8 February 2018) of the London Review of Books there’s a long review of Iris Origo’s The Merchant of Prato. Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City, first published in English in 1957, translated into Italian with an introduction by Luigi Einaudi in 1958 and now republished in English as a Penguin Classic. Its republication accompanies the reappearance of several of Origo’s books in 2017 thanks to the Pushkin Press: her well-known War in Val d’Orcia (1947; translated into Italian in 1968 with a preface by Piero Calamandrei), the previously unpublished A Chill in the Air dealing with the years 1939-1940, and her autobiography Images and Shadows: Part of a Life (1970).  Those three books convey brilliantly not only her family ancestry in Ireland and the USA but also her life in Italy; she grew up in Fiesole and moved to La Foce in southern Tuscany when she married Antonio Origo in 1924. La Foce was an unpromising half-ruined estate in the Val d’Orcia, 3500 hectares cultivated by mezzadri in 57 poor farms, which she and her husband determined, successfully,  to revive. Her books on Bernardino da Siena, Byron and Leopardi may have slipped from sight; but the accounts she left of her wartime years in La Foce are a lasting testimony to survival and solidarity in conditions of capricious power, lawlessness and extreme danger.

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Part-time position in Italian Studies, University of Melbourne

The Italian discipline in the School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne, is seeking to appoint a part-time Lecturer (level B, 0.5 FTE) in Italian Studies. The successful applicant will contribute to undergraduate teaching in Italian and European Studies subjects and will be active in supervising honours and graduate research.  The full position description and selection criteria can be found here. The closing date for applications is 30 January 2018.


Reminder – Il gattopardo will turn 60


As part of a week of events marking the 60th anniversary of the publication of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Il gattopardo (1958, The Leopard 1960) a symposium, Sicily, Italy and the Supranational Cultural Imaginary, convened by Mark Nicholls, Gregoria Manzin and Annamaria Pagliaro, will be taking place at the University of Melbourne on November 12-14, 2018. The convenors are therefore calling for papers on any aspect of the novel, Luchino Visconti’s 1963 film or interdisciplinary discussion of the political, social and cultural contexts related to them. Particularly welcome are also papers that consider what Il gattopardo and the discourse surrounding it has to say about trans-historical issues of political and social unity and cohesion in the face of contemporary cultures of ideological fragmentation, digital age tribalism, devolution and identity politics. The deadline for submission of proposals is 30 June 2018; the organisers are happy to receive them earlier. Possible topics include ….. Continue reading

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ACIS – Save Venice Fellowships for 2018

Further information on the Fellowships and how to apply for them can be found here.

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Dal guntiino al jilbab: come spiegare un cambio d’abito?

Kaha Mohamed Aden    ACIS

Dopo gli anni Novanta del secolo scorso il guntiino, il vestito molto colorito delle donne somale che lasciava il collo e le spalle scoperte, è scomparso, rimpiazzato dal jilbab (nome non somalo), il vestito solitamente scuro che copre intero il corpo dalla testa ai piedi. Questa rottura con una tradizione secolare del vestirsi ha caratterizzato non solo la Somalia ma anche le comunità somale in Italia e altrove.  Perché? In ‘Cambio d’abito‘, un breve saggio uscito recentemente sulla rivista Africa e Mediterraneo (2017) n.86 e disponibile qui, si cerca di dare una risposta, elencando i principali fattori politici, religiosi e sociali che insieme hanno portato a questo cambiamento drammatico nel vestirsi delle donne somale.   Continue reading

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Blade Runner 2049 meets Il Cortegiano

The improbable encounter between Blade Runner 2049 and Baldassarre Castiglione’s Il Cortegiano (Book 3) is the topic of Jill Burke’s latest entry in her blog. It’s Joi, the holographic super-girl who Agent K keeps in a device in his pocket, not K or any of the replicants in BR 2049, who is the focus – she can be compared to the perfect court lady imagined in the discussions among Castiglione’s courtiers. Burke connects their creation of an imaginary ideal woman with developments in the Renaissance painting of female nudes, setting real-life faces on classically beautiful bodies.

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Massacre? What Massacre? Anglo-American Responses to Monte Sole, Sept 29 – Oct 5 1944

Kevin Foster   Monash University

September 29 2017 marks the seventy-third anniversary of the largest single massacre of civilians on the Second World War’s western front. Over the long wet weekend from Friday 29 September 1944 until early the following week soldiers from Sturmbahnführer Walter Reder’s 16th Waffen-SS Reconnaissance Battalion, supported by other German troops, were given the task of clearing the partisans from the whole of the Monte Sole massif, the hills sandwiched between the Reno and Setta rivers, where the Gothic Line ran through the mountains south of Bologna. Fascist spies had confirmed that the partisan group, the Stella Rossa, which had been fighting a running battle with the Germans for weeks, was concentrated on the slopes around Monte Sole. The German commander, Kesselring, claimed that between 21 July and 25 September 1944, 624 Germans had been killed, 993 wounded and 872 missing in partisan operations.[1] Accordingly, at dawn on the 29th, the Germans began a wide encirclement, cutting off any means of escape. From the German perspective this particular rastrellamento was necessitated by the allies’ arrival at the Gothic Line. By 21 September US and South African troops were on the flanks of Monte Sole. Kesselring recognised the danger his troops faced. With the allies staring them in their faces they could not afford to have partisans nipping at their backs. Something had to be done.

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Religion, translation, Orientalists, purity and danger: ACIS in Prato

The keynote speakers at the ACIS Prato conference in July have very generously allowed us access to the videos of their presentations. Maurizio Isabella (QMUL), In the name of God: religion, popular mobilization and the culture wars of Italy and the Mediterranean, 1790-1860 ca, viewable here, underlines the essential role played by religion in both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary communities of mobilisation. Pierangela Diadori (Università per Stranieri di Siena), Multiculturality and inclusion through plurilingual public signs in contemporary Italy, linked here, offers a guide to the ways in which translation issues surface in public signs in multicultural Italy. Barbara Spackman (UC Berkeley) tracks the careers of two rackety but enterprising Italians, in Egypt by desertion or misadventure, in her Accidental Orientalists: Nineteenth-Century Italian Travelers in Egypt (here). And Nicholas Terpstra (University of Toronto) describes the forms of discipline and exclusion developed to ward off the dangers of impurity in Religious Refugees in the Early Modern Period:  Faith, Identity, and Purification in the Italian Context (here).  The abstracts for their talks can be found by reading on … Continue reading

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Recent Italian migration to Australia

Much has been written about Italian migration to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s but little is known about the new, young, skilled and educated Italian migrants of today. A new study, Australia’s New Wave of Italian Migration: Paradise or Illusion? (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2017), edited by Bruno Mascitelli & Riccardo Armillei, will be launched by Joe Lo Bianco (University of Melbourne) at CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton on Thursday 5 Oct 2017 at 6.30pm (free event: RSVP here). The book tackles many aspects of Italian migration, short-term and long-term, to Australia over the past twenty years, enabling us – thanks to the wide range of expertise among the contributors – to deepen our understanding of the scope and meaning of its multiple facets.      Continue reading