Category Archives: Modern

ACIS Research Group: History and Social Sciences

The first 3-year plan for the ACIS History and Social Sciences Research Group is available here. As its title, Trade, Textiles and Meaning in Italy: 1400-2018, suggests, the focus is on the nature and consequences of the high-end textile trade in Italy from the Renaissance onwards. The project begins with a specific object – the portrait of Isabella D’Este (1474-1539) by Titian – and explores the production and meaning of all the items of clothing, seen and not seen, that Isabella is wearing. The exploration is conducted in tandem with the IDEA (Isabella D’Este Archive) website, in relation where possible to the references to clothing and textiles in Isabella’s correspondence. The second part of the project examines similar themes in the contemporary world of ‘Made in Italy’, where many major producers using that descriptor are not Italian. Information on the activities and people involved in the project can be found in the plan and from the Research Group’s convenor, Catherine Kovesi.

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Sustainable Lina: the architecture of adaptive reuse

Lina Bo Bardi220px-masp_at_paulista_av_in_sa%cc%83o_paulo (1914-1992) was an Italian-born designer of buildings, furniture and jewelry. She trained in Milan with Carlo Pagani and Giò Ponti, working also for Domus and Milano Sera directed by Elio Vittorini. In 1946 she moved to Brazil where she became well-known for her modernist buildings, notably the São Paulo Museum of Art and the Glass House where she lived in the remains of the rainforest surrounding São Paulo. An analysis and appreciation of her work has recently been published under the title Sustainable Lina (Springer, 2016) edited by Annette Condello and Steffen Lehmann. It concentrates on the social dimensions of her adaptive reuse projects from the 1960s to the early 1990s, interpreting her themes, technical sources and design strategies for the creation of luxury as sustainability and pointing to the Italian influences on her approach.

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Port of no return

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Michelle Saftich will present her historical novel, Port of No Return (Odyssey Books, 2015), at the Museo Italiano  199 Faraday Street, Carlton, at 6.30pm on 10 February 2016, to coincide with Italy’s Giorno del Ricordo (free event; booking here). The day remembers those Italians killed or forced to leave their homes when Yugoslavia claimed their territories in north-east Italy at the end of World War II. Saftich’s story based is on the experiences of her father and his family fleeing Fiume in 1945 and their years as displaced people in the aftermath of war in Europe. Continue reading

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L’orologio di Monaco: Sydney, 27 Jan 2016

201512290334Orologio di Monaco_SITOOn 1 November 2005 the United Nations designated 27 January, the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Five years earlier the Italian Republic had established on the same date a commemoration day for the victims of the Holocaust (Giorno della Memoria). The Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Sydney will commemorate the occasion by screening Mauro Caputo’s 2014 docu-film L’orologio di Monaco (Munich’s Clock), deriving from the short-story collection by Giorgio Pressburger. The event, 6-8pm on 27 January, is free but booking is essential.

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Living like nomads

0283393_living-like-nomads_300Despite the considerable research on Italian anarchism conducted over the last forty years little is known about the history of the anarchists and anarchism in Milan. To fill this gap, Fausto Buttà’s Living Like Nomads: The Milanese Anarchist Movement Before Fascism (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015) examines the political and ideological debates and the lifestyles of anarchist militants in Milan during the two decades before the rise of Fascism. In addition to its historical value, this study of the history of anarchism contributes to an understanding of the modern Left and the values of freedom, justice and equality. The table of contents and the introduction are available here.

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‘In the beginning was boredom’

220px-Alberto_MoraviaThat’s the title of a lengthy commentary on Alberto Moravia and his work by Ian Thomson in the TLS this week (25 Sept). It follows a review of Agostino, a short novel written in 1942, initially censured by the Fascist regime, published in a limited edition in 1943, republished in full by Bompiani in 1945 and described by the reviewer, Michael McDonald, as perhaps Moravia’s magnum opus. Bertolucci’s film of Moravia’s Il conformista is currently being shown in the Lavazza film festival.

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New work on Italian poets: Piero Bigongiari and Giovanni Raboni

9781784622282_SMLTwo recent publications on 20th century Italian poets to be signalled. Theodore Ell’s A Voice in the Fire: Piero Bigongiari’s Poetry of War and Survival (Troubador, 2015) is the first detailed study in English of the work of Piero Bigongiari (1914-1997). It draws in particular on his wartime writing, from the major poetry collection Rogo (1952) to essays, diaries and new archival discoveries, to compose a portrait of an author abandoning the ermetismo of his early work in the search for greater emotional immediacy. Giovanni Raboni (1932-2004), poet, critic and translator, is the subject of the latest set of contributions to ReadingItaly. They include interviews with those familiar with the man and his work, a discussion of his relation to modernism, and a review by Maria Belova (Warwick) of his Every Third Thought: Selected Poems 1950-2004 (trans. Michael Palma, 2014).

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Italian Modernities: recent contributions

431820_cover430961_coverTwo volumes have just been published in the Italian Modernities series (Peter Lang). Eccentricity and Sameness by Charlotte Ross contests the view that female same-sex desire is virtually absent from Italian literature and cultural production in the modern era.  Focusing on texts published between 1860 and 1939, she analyses the evolution of discourses on female same-sex desire in and across a wide variety of genres: bestsellers, texts with limited distribution and subject to censorship, and translations from other languages. Her wide-ranging discussion, incoporating scientists who condemned the degenerate nature of «Sapphic» desire, erotic publications that revelled in the pleasures of female same-sex intimacy, and portrayals of homoerotic desire by female writers, opens up new approaches to the discourses of sexuality in modern Italy. The second volume, Destination Italy, edited by Emma Bond, Guido Bonsaver and Federico Falloppa, is the product of a two-year interdisciplinary research project into representations of migration to Italy which brings together contributions from migration studies, linguistics, media, literature and film studies as well as essays by practitioners and activists. The discussions of how media, literature and cinema contribute to the public perception of migrants also provide a snapshot of the ways different representations of immigration capture, and fail to capture, migrant experiences.

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Purists, neo-purists and anti-purists: attitudes to foreign words in Italian

8f71921e-8f7c-43f3-9a7b-7e41dbea2cedMirna Cicioni (Monash University) will give a talk in English, ‘Purists, neo-purists & anti-purists: foreign words in Italian from the fascist ‘language campaigns’ to 2015′, at the RISM seminar to be held at the Italian Cultural Institute, 233 Domain Road, South Yarra, Melbourne on Thursday 9 April at 6.30pm. The talk’s starting-point is the linguist Valeria Della Valle’s documentary Me ne frego! Il fascismo e la lingua italiana (directed by Vanni Gandolfo, 2014), which shows how between 1929 and 1943 linguists and journalists close to the Fascist government participated in various campaigns for what was then called l’autarchia della lingua. Continue reading

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Sicily and Scotland: an odd couple?

TullochCoverR2-RGB-SMLBrought together for the first time in the recent Sicily and Scotland: Where Extremes Meet, edited by Graham Tulloch, Karen Agutter and Luciana d’Arcangeli (Troubadour, 2014), Sicily and Scotland prove to have some surprising similarities as well as predictable differences. Both once independent nations, they are now part of larger nation-states, but each retains a deep sense of independent cultural and political identity rooted in a distinctive history and language. Both are favoured destinations of tourists and travel writers – an attraction illustrated here by studies of Scottish travellers writing about Sicily. And both have been significant sources of emigration, their peoples moving far across the world towards very different experiences as settlers in their new nations.

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