A Racist Brooch? The Venetian origins of a royal jewel

Catherine Kovesi   University of Melbourne

In reportage of Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace and the arrival of Meghan Markle and her fiancé Prince Harry, worldwide news focused on the item of jewellery worn by Princess Michael of Kent. Immediately branded as a ‘racist’ piece of jewellery in so-called ‘blackamoor’ style, many of these reports were also at pains to emphasise Princess Michael’s father’s association with the SS and to portray this fashion statement as a blatant affront to Harry’s choice of bride, a woman of part African-American heritage. Princess Michael hastily apologized for wearing the piece and said she would not wear it again. But this explosion of journalistic outrage obscures a much more interesting story  ……     Continue reading

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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.


ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in 2018

ACIS is very pleased to congratulate the winners of the ACIS Cassamarca scholarships for postgraduate research in Italy in 2018: Darius Sepehri (PhD, University of Sydney), “Reading the Renaissance anew: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and his Islamic sources”; Lana Stephens (MA, Monash University), “Theologia ficinianum: intellectual exchange and spiritual renewal in Late Quattrocento Florence”; and, as winner of the 2018 Dino De Poli Scholarship, Madeleine Regan (PhD, Flinders University), “Archival research and transnational resources for establishing family market gardens and transplanting Veneto community in the western suburbs of Adelaide, 1920s–1970s”.

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New research on Italian L2 learning

Marinella Caruso   University of Western Australia

What is one of the most challenging and neglected aspects of second language pedagogy and at the same time a key component of acquisition? Despite Krashen’s (1981) early discoveries that comprehension is at the centre of the language acquisition process, listening continues to be treated as the ‘Cinderella of the four macro-skills’ (Flowerdew and Miller 2005, p. xi). Recently a group from the University of Western Australia published its research into ways of using technology for the development and assessment of listening skills in Italian L2 in the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (2017,14,1), available here. Having conceptualised listening as a process rather than a product, they designed a set of online quizzes to teach ab initio students how to listen.    Continue reading

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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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Interregional encounters in Italy

Agnese Bresin   University of Melbourne

One of the many intriguing aspects of Italy is the diversity that characterises its regions: traditions, cuisines, political histories, economic dynamism and more. This variety includes language of course, not only the presence of Italian dialects – sister languages that developed parallel to Italian from Latin and often mutually unintelligible – but also the way Italian is spoken in different regions with the distinctive vocabularies, pronunciations and sentence structures that make up what linguists (e.g. D’Achille, 2002) call italiani regionali. So what happens when speakers move across regions, interacting with colleagues and customers who, for example, use different forms to express the same meanings or the same forms to express different meanings? How do personal experience, common knowledge and stereotypes help communication in those interregional encounters?      Continue reading

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Silvio Berlusconi 2017

Emma Barron    ACIS

In Italy political careers have a way of enduring well into old age. When politicians of other countries are collecting their pensions and writing their memoirs, many Italian politicians still serve into their 80s, or, as in the case of the previous President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, even their 90s. Silvio Berlusconi recently turned 81 and despite being expelled from the Senate for a tax fraud conviction he remains the leader of his party Forza Italia. He is likely to play a key role in Italy’s 2018 elections. Berlusconi’s political career has survived scandal and court cases: indeed his capacity for coalition building enabled him to become one of the longest-serving Prime Ministers of Italy. Here is a portrait with reflections.