Category Archives: Publications and reviews

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.

 

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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.

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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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Topographies of Identity

51dimkclgel-_sx331_bo1204203200_In her contribution to the recent volume edited by Patrizia Sambuco Italian Women Writers 1800-2000: Boundaries, Borders and Transgression (2015) Rita Wilson explores topographies of identity along frontiers (borders mark clear divisions; frontiers, the unstable meeting-place of differences). She considers the novels (I cristalli di Vienna (1978), Caffè specchi (1983), Angelo a Berlino (1987)) by Giuliana Morandini, in particular how and why her protagonists feel themselves to be outsiders present in but distanced from the Central European capitals where they live. She pursues the theme of partly alienated observers, disenchanted flâneuses in their city’s streets, in the novel Amiche per la pelle (2007) by Laila Waida, born in India but living in Trieste.  In the same volume Patrizia Sambuco examines how in Nel paese di Gesù. Ricordi di un viaggio in Palestina (1899) and Lettere di una viaggiatrice (1908)  Matilde Serao handles two further kinds of boundary-crossings: journeys into unfamiliar societies and the then unconventional role of women as travellers.

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Spaghetti/Knödel in the South Tyrol

280px-Language_distribution_in_South_Tyrol,_Italy_2011,_enSouth Tyrol, situated on the border between Austria and Italy, has been considered a ‘peace model’ by many nation-states since the creation of the province’s autonomy statutes. The aim of those statutes was to allow for minority protection of the German- and Ladin-speaking communities while also permitting Austria to be the ‘protector’ of South Tyrol even though the province is situated in Italy. A by-product of the statutes was the creation of the ‘separate but equal’ education system, which allowed the German-, Italian- and Ladin-speaking communities to have individual schools in order to protect their culture and language identity. In recent years marriages between members of different language groups have increased and a requirement for applicants for certain civil service positions to have an adequate comprehension of the L2 or in some cases L3 has been imposed. In ‘Half spaghetti-half Knödel: cultural division through the lens of language learning‘ Anne Wand has examined how the South Tyrolean school system has coped with the changing circumstances and with the pressures to move to an increasingly bilingual society. 

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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?

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Climb every mountain: the life of Felice Benuzzi (1910-1988)

Rory Steele launchMelbourne’s Italian Institute of Culture and Connor Court Publishing will be launching The Heart and the Abyss – The Life of Felice Benuzzi by Rory Steele, who will be present for the occasion, on Thursday 18 August at 6 pm at the Italian Institute, 233 Domain Road, South Yarra (rsvp to Bruno Mascitelli or phone (03) 9214 5363). Felice Benuzzi (1910-1988) represented Italy as a swimmer (breaststroke), colonial adminstrator and diplomat. His best-known exploit, recounted in his No Picnic on Mount Kenya (1947) and here in an interview for the RAI (1987), was to break out of his POW camp in 1943 to scale the second-highest mountain in Africa, with no maps and only handmade gear, returning to the camp to report to a bemused British commandant seventeen days later (the col between Point Dutton and the Petit Gendarme on Mount Kenya was named Benuzzi Col in his honour). Decorated for bravery in combat, he served as consul in Berlin and ambassador to Uruguay, ending his career as Head of the Italian Delegation for the Antarctic. A passionate mountaineer, he was a founder-member of the environmental group Mountain Wilderness. The author of this biography, Rory Steele, was Australia’s ambassador to Italy 1997-2001.

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‘A sickly poet of high reputation’

220px-Leopardi,_Giacomo_(1798-1837)_-_ritr._A_Ferrazzi,_Recanati,_casa_LeopardiThat was Giacomo Leopardi as described by an English diarist who met him in Florence in 1831. The latest issue of the TLS (July 8) has a review by Joseph Luzzi of recent translations of Leopardi: the Zibaldone (edited by Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino, translated by Kathleen Baldwin et al) and Passions (a selection of reflections on the emotions, translated by Tim Parks). The reviewer concludes: ‘It is not easy making one’s way through so conflicted and labyrithine a mind and the risk of losing oneself is great – but, to quote Leopardi, it is sweet to be shipwrecked in such a sea’. Yale UP hosts a conversation with Parks in which he talks about Passions; and the blog/podcast TLS Voices carries Parks’ reading from Leopardi on desperation as well as his thoughts on translating the writer.

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Objects in Italian life and culture

9781349948741In 2014 Paolo Bartoloni (NUI, Galway) gave a series of lectures in Australia on material culture and objects in the context of migration, multiculturalism, and transnational culture. The book containing some of the work he presented is about to be published as Objects in Italian Life and Culture: Fiction, Migration, and Artificiality (Palgrave Macmillan). Two of the five chapters focus on Australia. The chapter on migration is based on the exhibition Belongings: Post-WW2 Migration Memories and Journeys at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney, and the chapter ‘Multicultural and Transcultural Objects’ is a discussion of the Italian Forum in Sydney. The other three chapters provide a discussion of theoretical perspectives on material culture (“Meaningful Places”), objects in literature and cinema (“Fictional Objects”), and the adaptation of tradition and authenticity in contemporary culture (“Objects as Props”).

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Italian Cinema: special issue of FULGOR

7fbb78_783f57d50c2240d4b0f23be547a41fbeA special issue on Italian cinema (vol. 5, issue 1, April 2016) has just been published by FULGOR, the Flinders University Languages Group Online Review. The issue, guest-edited by Luciana d’Arcangeli with support from Laura Lori and Stefano Bona, covers a wide range of topics: trends in contemporary Italian cinema (Vito Zagarrio), including the treatment of gender and socio-sexual identity (Luciana d’Arcangeli); the presence of Italians in the early history of the Australian film industry (Gino Moliterno); a comparison of the texts and sub-texts of the films made by Italian directors in China between 1957 and 2012 (Stefano Bona); an analysis of the encounters between migrant Italians and indigenous Australians in Diego Cienetiempo’s Far Away is Home. La Storia di Clely (2012) (Matteo Dutto); and an interpretation of Costanza Quatriglio’s film of Vincenzo Rabito’s autobiography Terra matta (David Moss). FULGOR is a peer-reviewed journal affiliated with the Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. Back issues can be found here.

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