Category Archives: Publications and reviews

Work and culture among sessional staff in language departments

Although not specifically concerned with Italian, a recent article in the Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice (2018, 6, 1, 19-27), ‘Managing Expectations: A Case Study of Sessional Staff in Languages and Cultures Education in Australian Universities‘ by Josh Brown and Federica Verdina, provides valuable insights into the largely unresearched work patterns and culture of casual/sessional staff. The survey they conducted across language departments indicates that although most staff appear to be satisfied with the work itself, the further issues in short-term contracts – academic recognition, opportunities to engage in course innovation, possibilities for promotion –  are largely ignored by universities despite the high academic qualifications and intellectual commitment of most sessionals.

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Spunti e Ricerche vol.32 (2017)

Volume 32 (2017) of Spunti e Ricerche has just been published, edited by Gregoria Manzin, Annamaria Pagliaro and Antonio Pagliaro. It includes articles by Cristiano Bedin, Gianluca Cinelli, Giulia Guarneri, Stefania Lucamante, Marilyn Migiel, Christian Moretti, Emanuele Occhipinti, Patrizia Piredda, Daniela Shalom Vagata and Anita Virga, as well as book reviews. The Table of Contents can be viewed here.  Print and/or electronic copy of the whole volume, or electronic copies of individual articles, can be purchased via the website.

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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War in Val d’Orcia (1947; translated into Italian in 1968 with a preface by Piero Calamandrei), the previously unpublished A Chill in the Air dealing with the years 1939-1940, and her autobiography Images and Shadows: Part of a Life (1970).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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Convivio: new edition and translation

Andrew Frisardi   Independent scholar

My edition and first fully-annotated translation of one of Dante’s ‘minor’ works, Convivio: A Dual-Language Critical Edition, has recently been published by Cambridge University Press. It is hard to explain in a few words what the Convivio, composed by Dante in exile between 1304 and 1307, is like since it is as unique as most of his works. Let me just say that Dante as the quintessential poet-scholar is his truly unpredictable poet-scholarly self in this book. He gives prose commentaries on three of his own long poems, which are in the book as well, and is mind-bogglingly innovative and visionary with what he does with that. I highly recommend it for an experience of what the poetic intelligence can do when it is operating on all levels, as well as for getting closer to Dante’s thought in the Divine Comedy.    Continue reading

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Italian Screen Studies in 2017

The most recent issue of The Italianist (2017, 37, 2), edited by Charles Leavitt, Catherine ORawe and Dana Renga), is devoted to screen studies. The section on acting and performance has essays by Lisa Sarti on early Italian cinema journals and their reflections on acting for film and stage, Sarah Culhane on Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren performing the popolana, Alison Cooper on Rome as a key locus for reflecting on the relationship between performance and place, and Danielle Hipkins on the performance of girlhood in Gabrielle Mainettis Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot. All four essays underline the importance of theatricality for an understanding of Italian film theory and practice. In addition two pieces focus on Carl Koch’s film of Tosca (1941): Berhard Kuhn uses it to examine the relation between film melodrama and opera and Ivo Blom analyses the making of the film and the contributions of Jean Renoir and Luigi Visconti.

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Il 9 maggio

Oggi è il giorno per ricordare due persone molto diverse uccise il 9 maggio del 1978: Aldo Moro, ucciso dalle BR; Peppino Impastato, dalla mafia. Sulla vita e sulla morte di Moro è stato scritto moltissimo; un utile riassunto del dibattito nazionale e internazionale sulla natura e sulle cause della violenza politica che l’ha ucciso è di Giovanni Mario Ceci, Il terrorismo italiano. Storia di un dibattito (Carocci, 2013).  Gli scritti sulla mafia, meglio sulle mafie, sono ovviamente molto più numerosi. Adesso, su La Repubblica, c’è un blog, Mafie, a cura di Attilio Bolzoni, che oggi apre con una lettera di Tina Montinaro al marito, caposcorta di Giovanni Falcone e ucciso con lui 25 anni fa nella strage di Capaci. In questi ultimi anni il dibattito sulle mafie si è ampliato in seguito all’inchiesta ‘Mafia Capitale’ a Roma, dove i problemi della definizione e dell’evoluzione del fenomeno sono diventati di nuovo centrali. Questi temi sono analizzati con dovizia di dettagli nei dieci contributi all’ultimo fascicolo della rivista Meridiana (87, 2016) intitolato ‘Mafia Capitale’.

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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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