Category Archives: Modern

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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Recent Risorgimento scholarship

cmit20.v019.i02.coverKeen to keep pace with scholarship on the Risorgimento? The latest issue of Modern Italy (vol.19, issue 3, 2014) has a substantial section of reviews by leading scholars of recent books on several of its aspects. They follow a group of articles on Fascism and nature (sample title: ‘Making Italians out of rocks: Mussolini’s shadows on Italian mountains’), covering Italy and its African colonies, parks, the environment and leisure. The official encouragement in 1939 to get people to do more by way of ‘sweaty exertions’ in skiing and swimming, to be practised in full combat gear, did not fall entirely on deaf ears but failed to generate the levels of skill thought necessary for adequate defence of the patria on land and sea.

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Mothers and daughters in four novels

Aureliana Di Rollo   WAAPA/Monash University

mother and daughterAt this time a year ago I was about to submit my Ph.D. thesis with the title ‘Literary representations of mothers and daughters in contemporary Italian women writers’. It was a relief. Not only had I completed my degree but I would finally be able to read and talk about something else. But it didn’t happen that way. Yes, I have been awarded my degree, but when I speak at seminars, I am still the extravagant lady who digs out and deals with matricidal daughters, eccentric and dysfunctional mothers and tries to write a reasonable paper variously combining these ingredients. In my thesis I engaged with the tradition of writing about the mother in the works of Italian women writers. Within that tradition, I decided to investigate the literary representation of the mother-daughter relationship, a recurring trope in women’s narratives during the 1980s as illustrated by the novels of Francesca Sanvitale, Fabrizia Ramondino and others.

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Eighteenth-Century Venetian Drawings in New York

Sally Grant   New York

tiepolo_1997_27_2The recent post on Angelo Cattaneo’s upcoming paper got me thinking about Venice. Having recently completed my PhD at the University of Sydney on eighteenth-century Venetian gardens and villa culture, the city and its territory are never far from my thoughts. Recently, however, I was lucky enough to see a wonderful exhibition, ‘Tiepolo, Guardi, and Their World: Eighteenth-Century Venetian Drawings’, at the Pierpont Morgan Library in NYC, where I now live.

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The Pike e la rete di d’Annunzio predatore

Stefano Bragato   University of Reading

D'Annunzio_4L’ultimo colpo di coda delle celebrazioni per il 150° anniversario della nascita di Gabriele d’Annunzio (non scevre, purtroppo, del tipico tangenziale pasticcio all’italiana) è arrivato poche settimane fa, quando la discussa biografia di Lucy Hughes-Hallet (The Pike, London: Fourth Estate, 2013) ha vinto il prestigioso “Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction”. Tra le ragioni dell’assegnazione, informano i giudici, lo stile ricco e l’insolita organizzazione narrativa (che balza avanti e indietro nel tempo), elementi questi che riuscirebbero a rendere sopportabile un “repellente egoista” come d’Annunzio. Una biografia sicuramente interessante e soprattutto molto godibile, che forse non getta una luce particolarmente nuova sul poeta-soldato, ma che senza dubbio ne sfaccetta abilmente la figura.

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Quaderno poetico #6: Going behind the scenes (II) – Archives

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

220px-Stipula_fountain_penThis is the first of two posts about working in archives, where so many of us spend so much our time, in Italy and elsewhere. My work concentrates on the Florentine poet Piero Bigongiari and I will have more to say about working on his archival materials later, as well as talking about the technical questions involved – transcribing handwriting, handling old paper and so on. First, though, I have found myself reflecting on archival work in general, the fascination, frustrations, fun and fanaticism that surround it. I’m interested to hear other people’s archival stories and philosophies, particularly if they disagree with mine. Archival work often makes you feel that you’re the only one in the world doing what you’re doing (a chosen one, even!) but of course we’re never alone. The Renaissance scholar Gene Brucker has called himself an ‘archive junkie.’ There must be more out there. Be proud of it.

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Vale, Giorgio Orelli (1921-2013)

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

orelligiorgioItalian literature has lost a unique and much loved voice, with the death this morning of Swiss poet Giorgio Orelli, at the age of 92. Orelli was born in 1921 in Airolo, in the Canton of Ticino, and made his debut as a poet with the collection Né bianco né viola in 1944. He studied at Freiburg im Breisgau under Gianfranco Contini and made a career teaching literature in Switzerland and Italy. He published fiction (Un giorno della vita, 1960) and criticism (most recently La qualità del senso, in 2012), but it was in the domain of poetry that he produced his most inspired work, in collections that displayed his gift for rich, concentrated and emotional descriptions of nature: L’ora del tempo (1962), Sinopie (1977), Spiracoli (1989), Il collo dell’anitra (2001) and most recently L’orlo della vita.

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Quaderno poetico #6: Going behind the scenes (II) – Archives

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

220px-Stipula_fountain_pen

This is the first of two posts about working in archives, where so many of us spend so much our time, in Italy and elsewhere. My work concentrates on the Florentine poet Piero Bigongiari and I will have more to say about working on his archival materials later, as well as talking about the technical questions involved – transcribing handwriting, handling old paper and  so on. First, though, I have found myself reflecting on archival work in general, the fascination, frustrations, fun and fanaticism that surround it. I’m interested to hear other people’s archival stories and philosophies, particularly if they disagree with mine. Archival work often makes you feel that you’re the only one in the world doing what you’re doing (a chosen one, even!) but of course we’re never alone. The Renaissance scholar Gene Brucker has called himself an ‘archive junkie.’ There must be more out there. Be proud of it.  

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Emotional geographies of Italian transnational spaces

Francesco Ricatti   University of the Sunshine Coast

CSR 19(2)The new issue of Cultural Studies Review (volume 19 issue 2) includes a section I have co-edited with Maurizio Marinelli on Emotional geographies of the uncanny: reinterpreting Italian transnational spaces. Our aim was to read transnational spaces constructed and inhabited by Italian migrants and settlers to Australasia as emotional spaces of uncanny perceptions, memories, narratives and identities. Drawing inspiration from the Freudian suggestions about the uncanny (das unheimliche), and later interpretations by Heiddeger, Derrida, Kristeva, Bhabha, Žižek, and Ahmed, we refer to the uncanny as the emotional reaction to something that is, at the same time, familiar and unfamiliar, homely and unhomely. The uncanny then becomes an aesthetic frame through which experiences of migration and colonialism can be read and interpreted. Continue reading

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Quaderno poetico #4: How the poetry works (II)

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

What do you notice about these two samples of poetry?

“…se il vento rintocca nelle corti / come un rullo sordo e opaco di tamburo, / un ululo fedele accanto al muro / del padrone addormentato.”

“Le corti fiorentine / rintoccano a morto in una cupa vanità / come una pelle tesa di tamburo, / le ardesie soffocate di polvere quassù in alto…”

The quotations come from two separate poems, “La notte fiorentina,” written on the 27th of February 1946, and “Inverno arido,” written a few days later on the 3rd and 4th of March. But yes, the thing you notice is the repetition. Different poems, same material: the courtyards reverberating with a menacing, drumhead sound. The last post ended with the suggestion that Bigongiari’s writing unfolded through a process of elaboration, treating certain phrases, words or situations as motifs, to be taken up from previous poems and recoloured in new ones. What you see here is an example of elaboration in action.

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