ACIS Cassamarca Scholarship winners since 2000

Since 2000 a total of 51 students, drawn from twelve universities, have been awarded scholarships from pools of up to a dozen applicants each year. A striking feature of the projects is the range and historical span of their topics. Music, film, history (Renaissance, modern, contemporary), literature (novels, poetry), sociology, anthropology,  intercultural education, politics, art, religion, material culture, the economy – all these areas figure among the successful applicants’ fields of study. Given the relatively small size of the Italianist scholarly community in Australasia, this is a notably diverse set of interests, which has brought to bear the instruments of many disciplines on aspects of Italy from the mediaeval to contemporary periods. Several scholarship holders have gone on to publish their findings and embark on research and academic careers in Italian Studies; others have pursued interests in other areas, using the skills and knowledge initially developed by working on Italian projects. Some of their own descriptions of their work, publications and careers have been updated since the award.


Donna Storey (PhD, Melbourne)

Race and Romanità in Fascist Italy

From the outset of the Italian Fascist regime, the notion of romanità (‘Romanness’, or the admiration of ancient Rome) was utilised as an underlying ideology to legitimise Fascist rule. My research investigates this use of ancient Rome in Fascist propaganda regarding forced Italianization policies in northern regions annexed after World War One. These policies contained fundamental elements of racism against the non-Italian speaking population, despite the regime being ‘not officially racist’ prior to the introduction of the Leggi razziali in 1938. My research focuses on the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Trieste/Istrian peninsula regions. Though there is existing scholarship on Italianization in these regions, there has been little analysis of the use of romanità in this context, or the two facets combined. I will also investigate the later Republic of Salò by way of contrast. By this final stage Fascist racist behaviour was blatant, however the use of romanità was waning. My research investigates whether this suggests that romanità was primarily a racial construct no longer considered necessary, or if it was a genuine social and political construct deployed alongside the separate cultural assimilationist policy of Italianization. As such my research will allow a greater appreciation of the relationship between Italianization, romanità, and Italian Fascist race-based policies

Matthew Topp (PhD, Monash)

Ars Oblivionalis: A Study of Cultural Forgetting in Renaissance Florence.”

Historians of Renaissance Florence have often shown that citizens of the Tuscan city-state devoted much time and effort to remembering the past and to ensuring that they and their families were remembered. One aspect of fifteenth-century Florentine memory culture that has yet to be explored in detail, however, is the extent to which people and events were forgotten, an area that has seen a small but growing literature in other geographical contexts and in the interdisciplinary field of Memory Studies. As Peter Burke pointed out almost thirty years ago, the study of forgetting has great methodological potential to illuminate, in a negative sense, how memory operates. My research project proposes to foreground forgetting as a lens to explore quattrocento Florentine memory culture and Florentine society more broadly. This will be explored through a series of case studies, examining the connection between forgiving and forgetting within records of Florentine peace-making; the potential of exile to act as a memory sanction through the experiences of Messer Palla Strozzi; and the destructive forms of forgetting or damnatio memoriae employed against the Pazzi Conspirators. Overall, the project aims to understand how Florentines conceptualized ‘memory’ and ‘forgetting’, and how and why practices of cultural forgetting were employed for a variety of political and social purposes.


Julia Pelosi-Thorpe (MA, Melbourne)

‘Imitate da Ovidio’: gender ventriloquism in the seicento epistole eroiche.

‘My project investigates the ventriloquism of the female voice by male writers in the epistole eroiche, a little-studied baroque poetic tradition in Italy. In exploring the way voice is gendered in these texts, I offer a first sustained investigation of the epistole’s intersection with Ovid’s Heroides and trace the significance of this engagement for the rendering of voice by their collective male authorship in seventeenth-century Italy.  I shall be carrying out research on primary sources that are not available online and would be too costly to reproduce by way of microfilms or professional photography. I will be consolidating my corpus of texts and advancing my understanding of the cultural networks — academies, friendships, and print ventures — that produced, promoted, and circulated the epistole eroiche.’

Andrea Pagani, (PhD, Monash)

Beyond Pinocchio: Italian National Identity in Carlo Collodi’s Works for Primary Schools (1877-1890)

‘My research aims to answer this question: How did Carlo Collodi’s books for primary school relate to the Italian nation-building project between 1877 and 1890?  I will look at the response of Carlo Collodi’s educational literature to the cultural programme for the new Italian nation presented to primary school children, with particular emphasis on the six parts of the collection of Giannettino, released between 1877 and 1890. I will explore aspects of the Italian nation-building policy within primary education by aiming to answer the following questions: Which themes emerge from these texts as a fundamental peculiarity of being Italian? How were Italy and Italian society portrayed to future Italians through Giannettino in terms of pedagogical management of Authority, Temporality and Knowledge? How did Collodi relate to the issue of a common Italian language in terms of building the Italian community through Giannettino? What are the main analogies and/or discrepancies between what was politically promoted as  “being an Italian”, and what emerges from Giannettino? Can Giannettino be considered a herald of socialist ideology?’

Margherita Angelucci (PhD, Monash)

A New Way of Being Italian through the Lens of Hip Hop.

I will be studying musical production by second-generation Hip Hop artists living in Italy, focusing on the linguistic and performative aspects of this production as a gateway to understand identity construction. In the past five years, at a time of increasing debate over citizenship rights and a growing racism, we have seen the emergence of a new wave of artists of migrant background, substantial both in numbers and in the media attention they are attracting. For example, one of the artists included in my research, Italian-Tunisian Ghali, despite not having a contract with a major record label, has 1,855,041 monthly listeners on Spotify, his most popular video (Cara Italia) has 98 million views on YouTube, and he has been featured on major national media outlets. My research addresses the following question: how do young second-generation Italians use Hip Hop music and its oppositional language to negotiate, construct and perform a transcultural identity that goes beyond the dichotomy Italian vs immigrant? I will be building on my linguistic analysis of a selection of song lyrics by second-generation rappers through interviews with Abe Kayn, Amill Leonardo, Ghali, Isi Noice, Laïoung, Maruego, Momoney, Mosè Cov, Omarito, Suerte, Tommy Kuti and Young Slash.’


Madeleine Regan (PhD, Flinders)

Establishing family market gardens and transplanting Veneto community in the western suburbs of Adelaide, 1920s–1970s.

‘The focus of my study is the migration and settlement of a small group of people who emigrated to Australia from two provinces in the Veneto in the late 1920s. While considerable research has been undertaken on Italian migration to Australia after 1945, less information has been published about the settlement history of small regional groups between the wars. The experiences of the 17 men and one woman who became commercial market gardeners in urban Adelaide have been compiled through interviews with second-generation family members. The interviews are featured on a dedicated website which has become a community resource. The ACIS Cassamarca Scholarship will enable me to examine archival records in libraries and parish archives to contextualise the socio-economic circumstances of the individual families. I will interview descendants of market gardeners who returned to live in the Veneto and relatives who did not leave and were affected by the emigration of the pioneers in the late 1920s. The two strands of research will provide data for comparative analysis and interpretation of second-generation accounts of migration and settlement narrated in Adelaide and the Veneto and will also contribute to a transnational understanding of migration.’

Darius Sepehri (PhD, Sydney)

Reading the Renaissance anew: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and his Islamic sources

‘One of the untold chapters in the story of the Italian Renaissance is the way in which philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) – student of Marsilio Ficino, patronised by Lorenzo the Magnificent – read texts of Islamic philosophy and theology. Pico embarked on an ambitious journey of learning through the Islamic tradition, but this part of his life remains dim, and there exists no full-length study investigating Pico’s reception of Islamic texts. My research will take me to Florence and the Vatican, especially the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, to examine manuscripts utilised and annotated by Pico and thus cover a major unexplored territory in Pico scholarship. More broadly, it will extend our knowledge of interactions between Islamic and Italian thought in the Renaissance and tell the story of the Italian Renaissance in a different light. One of Pico’s central themes was his search for concord and synthesis in his thought. In a world where cultural and religious conflicts are being inflamed, it is important to pinpoint how key moments in history such as the Italian Renaissance were made possible by concordistic perspectives and scholarship, not simply by inimical thought.’

Lana Stephens (MA, Monash)

Theologia ficinianum: intellectual exchange and spiritual renewal in Late Quattrocento Florence

‘Florentine philosopher-priest Marsilio Ficino is traditionally recognised for his attempt to revive Platonism to purify the Christianity of his time, and he has recently been considered to be amongst the advocates of a new ‘Humanist theology’. Building upon these ideas, my research explores the notion of a ‘Theologia Ficiniana’ against the backdrop of a profound spiritual crisis that has been seen to characterize the late Quattrocento. Examining his dynamic role in the recovery of ancient wisdom, I will analyse the various strategies used by Ficino in the promotion of a new theology aimed at restoring Neoplatonic doctrines, as part of his greater programme of spiritual renewal. By interrogating the rhetorical and linguistic complexities of Ficino’s treatises and extensive correspondence, I can expose the traces of a unique cipher used to communicate these revisionist teachings to a number of peripheral humanists. Revisiting the scholarship on the ‘Platonic Academy’, my research will examine a novel sort of ‘learned connection’ between the philosopher and the members of a private Ficinian gymnasium. Establishing the parallel advocacy of these doctrines enables me to argue that an intellectual undercurrent was in operation in Florence during the later decades of the fifteenth century.’


Paola Di Trocchio (PhD, UTS)

Reading fashion in the museum through a case study of Anna Piaggi, Walking Museum

‘I will investigate the life and work of Anna Piaggi (1931-2012) journalist, stylist and Vogue Italia contributor, and her impact on fashion culture and the museum. From the 1950s Piaggi became instrumental in the development of Italian fashion through her promotion and support of Italian designers such as Missoni, Valentino, Roberto Capucci and others. In parallel, she developed an exuberant style of dressing from the late 1960s, excessive in colour and texture, which combined vintage and contemporary fashion, popular culture and art history references. Her life and her work influenced designer Karl Lagerfeld who drew inspiration from her ensembles for two decades. She later inspired stylists and curators. The aim of my research is to document and analyse Anna Piaggi’s influence and contribution to fashion culture and the museum from the 1960s to 2012 in order to contribute to the field of fashion theory and curatorial studies and consider what her approach can offer future practice.’

Shayani Fernando (PhD, Sydney)

The Machine and the Arch. Ancient Italian Stone Craft and its Influence on Contemporary Stone Culture and Exposition

‘I will investigate freeform stone crafting techniques to reform the value of the craft, examining ancient structures to build for the future. My investigation will suggest the use of stone as a sustainable building material in Australia by using insights from the stone crafting industry in Italy and the ways in which projects such as the Digital Stone Project in Tuscany facilitate the interplay between robot stone carving and hand crafting to produce innovative sculptural forms and thus redefine the nature and relations of art, architecture and technology. In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone. “But which is the stone that supports the bridge?” Kublai Khan asks. “The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,” Marco answers, “but by the line of the arch that they form.” Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: “Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.” Polo answers: “Without stones there is no arch.” (Calvino 1972). Calvino here is referring to the definition of lines of gravity rather than to models or structural forces but he captures neatly the relation between material and structure that I shall be investigating in an example of dry stone architecture which survives today – the ‘trulli’ of Alberobello in the Puglia region, South East Italy.’

Julie Robarts (PhD, Melbourne)

Forms that Sound:  Margherita Costa’s Lyric Corpus, 1638-9

‘Margherita Costa (c1600-1664) was active as a virtuosa singer, performing in courts and commercial opera in Rome, Florence, Paris and Venice between 1626 and 1652, and fourteen books of her prose, poetry and theatre were published between 1632 and 1654. This exceptional production for a non-élite female author of the period remains mostly unstudied to date. My study of Costa’s first four fictional works – three collections of poetry, and one of love letters – argues that this poetic corpus was the product of collaboration between the author and a literary network which had a particular investment in female cultural production and participation. Costa’s engagement with the literary supporters of Giambattista Marino, and a Marinist literary corpus, shaped many features of these books which are unusual for a female author of the period, including complex textual structures, the use of comedy and burlesque, and the extensive use of a fictive poetic persona, the ‘Bella donna’. This finding destabilises current understandings of a separation or difference between women’s and men’s literary production by presenting an example of the complex and fluid collaborative production of poetry.’


Tara Auty (PhD, UWA)

The Fall of Constantinople in Quattrocento Literary Culture: Community Emotions and the Genre of Neo-Latin Epic in Fifteenth Century Italy

‘My area of research is neo-Latin epic poetry and its intersection with the history of community emotions. I am specifically interested in fifteenth-century Italian neo-Latin epics and what this category of sources can illustrate about the emotional climate in the politically volatile environment of the Quattrocento. After centuries of gradual fracture and weakening Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and this socio-political cataclysm sent reverberations across all of Europe. The fall of the last vestiges of the ancient Roman Empire was especially significant to Italians in this period because of their cultural, commercial and political ties with the Byzantine Empire. Following a long poetic tradition of exploring issues of community emotions and national identity through the form of Latin epic, authors such as Matteo Zuppardo and Ubertino Pusculo created a distinct sub-category of Italian neo-Latin epic focused on the Fall of Constantinople. This will be the first significant study in English on this particular aspect of Quattrocento culture.’

Catherine Blake (PhD, Sydney)

Unstable Ground: Vitale da Bologna between Form and Modality

‘My dissertation will be the first full-length study of an extraordinary and much-neglected fourteenth century Italian painter, Vitale da Bologna. My thesis focuses on the artist’s career and output over three decades of his documented career c. 1330-1360, which straddles (and substantially problematises) the supposed caesura of the Black Death in 1348, first proposed by Millard Meiss.  I concentrate on Vitale’s series of fresco cycles and richly decorated panels and on his role as a mediator between northern and central Italian approaches to picturemaking, particularly in relation to the construction of pictorial space. I argue that his work achieves a fragile (and often unstable) synthesis between competing pictorial traditions: the iconic, surface-oriented northern devotional image, and the deep empirical perspective of the Giottesque model. There is no book-length study of Vitale in English and only a short book in Italian (Cesare Gnudi, 1962), written before the discovery of documented frescoes in Udine and the attribution to Vitale of other important Bolognese frescoes, in particular the iconographically innovative Madonna of the Embroidery’.

Jessica O’Leary (MA, Monash)

Women and Kinship Diplomacy: Negotiation, Gift Exchange, and News in the Familial Network of the Aragonese of Naples

‘During the Italian Renaissance dynastic marriage was one of the most important forms of diplomacy for the rulers on the peninsula. These negotiations were an integral part of the diplomatic machinery which operated during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and their failure or success could alter the political trajectories of ambitious and established families alike. However, the diplomatic role which women played, both as brides and as mothers who negotiated their daughters’ futures, is only now beginning to be studied. My project takes as its case study the Neapolitan branch of the Aragonese dynasty to explore how diplomacy functioned in dynastic networks and complemented the practices of local and foreign resident ambassadors. Using sources located throughout Italy’s north-eastern state archives, I will argue that dynastic brides played a critical role as intermediaries and negotiators between their natal and marital families and that their actions were an integrated and expected part of diplomatic practice during this period’.


Lisa Di Crescenzo (PhD, Monash)

Letters, Lineage and Life Cycle in Exile and Expatriation: The Epistolary Corpus of the Strozzi, 1471-1510

Using the correspondence of Luisa Donati Strozzi over four decades, this research project examines the consequences of exile from Florence to Padua, Ferrara and Venice in 1434 for the Strozzi family. A central issue is the extent to which the sense of lineage identity persisted as a source of political, economic and cultural solidarity for later generations of the family in the face of necessary adaptation to court life in a different city. In addition to their value as examples of shifting linguistic forms and registers, the letters of Luisa Donati provide rarely-examined materials for the analysis of the impact of exile on women of patrician status and their role in sustaining the sense of a common family identity.

Kristen Sloan (PhD, Wollongong)

Re-awakening ‘Ghost Towns’: Alternative Futures for Abandoned Italian Villages

Italy has at least 5838 historically valuable ‘ghost towns’ of which 2831 are either completely abandoned or at serious risk of complete extinction. Over the last twenty years, however, a number have been repossessed to serve contemporary purposes. Drawing on case-studies (the ecological community of Torri Superiore in Liguria, the Associazione Nazionale degli Alberghi Diffusi in Abruzzo, Craco in Basilicata and ‘Paraloup’ in Piemonte), this research project investigates how and why groups and individuals (often without any historical connection to the places in question) have embarked on projects to restore such villages and how the decisions on the relative importance of function, history and aesthetics have been discussed and settled.


Stefano Bona (PhD, Flinders)

The Representation of China on Italian Screens after 1949: Cultural Economic and ideological implications

This project analyses films shot in China by Italian filmmakers from the 1950s to 2012. The films will be studied in terms of their genesis, their production, their aesthetics and their reception. The research is located within a new transnational approach in Italian Film Studies. The funding will support a research trip to Italy, to work in film archives in Italy, and interview directors and producers who worked on the films.

Esther Theiler (PhD, La Trobe)

Portrait Painting in Italy in the Seventeenth Century

The research focuses on Rome and studies the ways in which portraiture expressed individual, social, familial and political identity in the first decades of the seventeenth century. This period is an interesting transitional moment, between the Renaissance and the Counter Reformation in Italy, and the high Baroque period. The research pays particular interest to interactions between letterati and artists. The funding will support a trip to Italy, to work in libraries and archives, and to collaborate with Italian academics.


Daniel Canaris (PhD, Sydney)

Giambattista Vico and the 17th century Chinese rites controversy

‘My project will investigate the extent of Giambattista Vico’s involvement in the doctrinal controversy over the Chinese rites. This debate, which engrossed all of Europe from the latter half of the 17th century following the publication of Sinological treatises by the Jesuits, concerned the legitimacy of the continued use of Chinese ceremonies amongst Chinese Christian converts. Theologians at the time quickly realised that the debate had broader ramifications, unsettling the delicate consensus reached about the relationship between paganism and Christianity. No systematic study of Vico’s participation in the heated debate over the Chinese rites has yet been conducted, as scholars have generally thought that Vico was either not interested or dismissive of Chinese culture and tradition. The Cassamarca Scholarhip will allow me to consult original texts in libraries around Italy and to test the claim that Vico discusses the controversy in relation to Greco-Roman myth. In describing Confucian philosophy as “rozza e goffa” Vico is, however, employing the same typology to which he subjects Greco-Roman myth. It is possible that Vico, in affording Greco-Roman myth a pivotal role in his teologia civile ragionata, is surreptitiously rehabilitating the role of Chinese cultural practices and beliefs in the designs of Providence.’


Amy Sinclair (PhD, Melbourne)

Gender and identity construction in Lucrezia Marinella and Venetian writers of the Seicento

‘My research project explores the way in which the Venetian writer of the Seicento Lucrezia Marinella constructs one or many senses of self in her Essortazioni alle donne et a gli altri, se loro saranno a grado (1645). My analysis investigates the circumstances surrounding the composition and publication of the Essortazioni and the prevailing mid-17th century Venetian attitudes towards the self and self-fashioning. I have chosen Marinella’s text because of its pervasive self-reference and its status as an ostensible palinode to her earlier treatise La nobiltà et l’eccellenza delle donne (1601). These aspects raise partiularly interesting questions regarding authorship, identity and discourse: I draw on contemporary identity, gender and discourse analysis theories to illuminate them.’


Gianluca Caputo (PhD, La Trobe)

The Japanese presence in Italian culture.

“My doctoral research focuses on the representation of Japan in literary texts, travel writing, Jesuit accounts, and maps produced in Italy in the sixteenth century. I shall be using my ACIS-Cassamarca scholarship to consult the Jesuit archives in Rome to study their documents on Japan. Three types of material are of special interest: the press privileges sanctioned by Superior Generals of the Company and confirmed by the Holy Office of the Inquisition; the original corpus of letters (written in Portuguese or Spanish) selected for publication; and the correspondence between the Roman editor Zanetti and his colleagues working in other Italian states. Projects beyond my PhD include the representation of Japan in late Renaissance Italian culture and the analysis of seventeenth-century Italian texts dealing with Japan after its closure.”

Marco Ceccarelli (PhD, UWA)

Catholic responses to Islamic terrorism.

“My thesis explores the issue of Catholic public discourse and its response to Islamic terrorism. While much has been published on Islamic terrorism since  9/11, very little attention has been paid to the scholarly debate which has emerged among Catholic intellectuals. My thesis aims to fill this gap by examining works of Catholic scholars which engage with the relationship between Islam and terrorist violence. One essential component of my research project is to explore the archives of the Catholic journals I am analysing – Civiltà Cattolica and the Osservatore Romano – and to consult relevant sources in the Vatican library. A second key element is to interview one of the main subjects of my thesis, the journalist, political commentator and current Member of the European Parliament, Magdi Cristiano Allam, who was born in Egypt but is now an Italian citizen and convert from Islam to Catholicism. I hope my research will draw attention to the work of Catholic thinkers on a pressing issue of our times as well as examine theories on how to prevent further violence and avoid the so called ‘clash of civilisations’.”

Francesca Ori (PhD, Sydney)

Giovanni Pascoli.

“My PhD is based on the compilation of a critical edition of Giovanni Pascoli’s last work, Odi e Inni, composed between 1896 and 1907. Although Pascoli is regarded as one of the most important poets of Post-Unification Italy, not all of his works have been studied in equal depth. His later collections in particular have not yet received the same philological attention as the Myricae and Canti di Castelvecchio despite their historical, social and political relevance. Only a comprehensive study and critical edition of Odi e Inni will therefore make it possible to test my hypothesis that among its 15 available editions the most authoritative copy-text – Pascoli’s intended best text – is the last one published in the author’s lifetime by Zanichelli in 1907. My ACIS scholarship will enable me to consult the necessary materials: the manuscripts preserved at the Casa Pascoli Archive (Castelvecchio, Lucca) and the newspapers, magazines and booklets in which poems later incorporated into Odi e Inni were originally published. The scholarship will also give me the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the course of my research with experts on Italian philology and Pascoli from universities in Padua, Pisa, and Rome.”

Elizabeth Reid (PhD, Macquarie)

Clothing the body: vice and virtue in Florence 1350–1500.

“My PhD research explores the role of material and metaphorical clothing in defining social and spiritual identity during the Florentine plague years of 1348 to 1528. Florence was a centre of the pan-European textile industry and one of the most self-reflective cities in Renaissance Europe. The manipulative semiotic function of clothing was utilised to identify vice and virtue. Florentines used garments to respond to their changing conceptions of immortality and social hierarchy and so characterize their physical, social and spiritual bodies.  I shall be using my ACIS scholarship to consult a range of documents in the Archivio di Stato in Florence: sumptuary laws, inventories, diaries, sermons and saints’ vitae. I shall also be analysing visual representations of early Renaissance clothing culture in churches and galleries.”


Erika Piazzoli (PhD, Griffith)

The potential of drama-based pedagogies for the teaching and learning of Italian as L2/FL.

“My research in Italy, conducted in mid-2010, consisted in the data collection phase of my PhD on Process Drama for teaching Italian as a Foreign Language (FL). The project explores the relationship between communicative, intercultural and affective engagement in adult learners of FL Italian when using Process Drama. In Italy I worked with three different groups of FL Italian learners: monolingual Chinese students, multilingual student-teachers, and multilingual students, enrolled in three different schools of Italian per Strainer in Milan. Conducting the research in Italy provided a range of dynamics which will greatly enhance the breadth of the model I am developing for the use of Process Drama pedagogy for teaching Italian in Australia. I have used this research to hold an in-service seminar for the teachers of Leonardo Da Vinci school (Milan) and International House school (Milan); an intensive seminar at Laboratorio Itals (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice); and a workshop for teachers of the Italian School Committee at the University of the Sunshine Coast. I have presented my research at several conferences and will be giving a paper to the National Drama Conference in 2011. I have also been commissioned to write a chapter for a book on process drama for FL teaching edited by Dr Joe Winston (University of Warwick) which will be published in mid-2011.”

Melanie Smans (PhD, Monash)

The internationalisation of Italian immigrant ethnic entrepreneurs in Australia.

“I have recently completed research in Italy which will contribute towards the achievement of a PhD. My thesis explores how Italian immigrant entrepreneurs in Australia internationalise their business and the influence of networks and institutions on this process (Melanie Smans, Susan Freeman and Bill Schroder, ‘The Internationalisation of Immigrant Ethnic Entrepreneurs‘, paper presented at the Australia and New Zealand International Business Academy Annual Conference, 2010). I have interviewed government and industry representatives to explore what incentives and assistance are available for Italian immigrant entrepreneurs to internationalise their business to Italy. This research builds on my previous work on the third-generation in Australia (Smans, M., & Glenn, D., ‘Identity and cultural maintenance: Observations from a case study of third-generation Italian-Australians in South Australia’, Studi Emigrazione, 2011, in press). My ambition is to use this experience to increase the academic and wider communities’ appreciation and knowledge of the significant contribution of Italian immigrants to Australian society through both their culture and their business activities.”


Annie Lord (Hons, Notre Dame)

An investigation into the status of the Catalan language in Alghero, Sardinia.

“My research project was designed to study the ways in which, often against the odds, minority languages are recognised and maintained, taking the case of Catalan in the town of Alghero in North-West Sardinia. Catalan was originally introduced into Alghero in the 14thC and has manage to survive despite its replacement as an official language first by Spanish and then by Italian. During my three-month stay in the town I was able to collect substantial materials from archives, libraries and theses as well as conducting semi-structured interviews with bilingual Catalan-Italian speakers. I found that apart from family encouragement to maintain the language there is also strong institutional and official backing. Forty teachers in nineteen local schools teach in Catalan assisted by the local Catalan language clubs and night classes, taught by the local priest. The Regional Government of Catalonia has recently opened an office in Alghero which provides authoritative  support for Catalan language and culture. Alghero’s unique history and the fact that it is an isolated town on an island have also enhanced the conditions for the maintenance of a minority language.

Surprisingly, the most challenging and enjoyable part of this research was gathering the interviewees. Boldly approaching strangers in the street and introducing myself in Italian seemed an impossible skill for me. However, after the first few attempts, I began to delight in meeting people and learning their culture and personal stories. The completion of this project – which I am thinking of developing further at Masters level – did not mean the end of my relationship with them either. I am a member of many groups that help to support and diffuse the Catalan language and I am confident about its long-term survival. Furthermore, as a teacher, I can encourage my students who speak a minority language to value their own culture and show them the importance of maintaining their first language. These days I live in London and continue to visit the incredible island of Sardinia at least twice a year.”

Emma Nicholls (MA, Monash)

The complex symbolic power of silk in Renaissance Florence.

“I was awarded the scholarship quite recently so I’m still (2012) in the process of completing my Masters. It has nonetheless had a very large impact upon me. The Cassamarca Foundation’s vital support allowed me to make my first research trip to Florence, which was hugely rewarding, both personally and intellectually. The time I spent in Italy as a scholarship holder confirmed to me that Renaissance studies is a field to which I would like to make a lasting commitment, and next year I will again be teaching in the area at Monash University as well as continuing my own research. In December 2008 I presented the first results of my work at the 7th Biennial Conference of ANZAMEMS (Australian and New Zealand Association for Mediaeval and Early Modern Studies) in a paper entitled ‘The Symbolic Power of Silk in Renaissance Florence’. Happily, with the aid of a Bill Kent Prato Prize,  I will be able to return to Italy to carry out further archival work and to participate in some of the early activities of the newly instituted Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. In 2011 I was awarded a two-year Mellon Foundation fellowship to complete the Diploma of Manuscript Studies offered by the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, in conjunction with the American Academy in Rome. This has meant that I spent the northern-hemisphere Summer in Rome in 2011, and in Toronto in 2012, studying the ‘nuts and bolts’ of doing archival work with the programme director, Professor Michèle Mulchahey of PIMS, as well as other internationally recognised experts – a fantastic opportunity. Equally rewarding was the chance to work alongside other graduates and more advanced scholars from around the world similarly drawn to the outstanding training offered by PIMS. My article, “Penelope and the Wolf: Chaste Eloquence in the Letters of Laura Cereta (1469 – 1499),” will appear in the refereed postgraduate journal Eras in late 2012.

Barbara Pezzotti (PhD, Victoria University, Wellington)

Realism & regional identity in contemporary Italian detective stories.

“Thanks to the Cassamarca scholarship I was able to go to Italy and interview the authors whom I analysed in my thesis. This led to three publications: “Alligator is Back: Massimo Carlotto and the North-east, the Corroded Engine of Italy”, Storytelling: A Critical Journal of Popular Narrative, 10.1, 2010;  “Between Commitment and Disenchantment: an Interview with Andrea G. Pickets,” The Italianism, 30 (2010), pp.151-162; and “Conversation on a New Sicily: Interview with Andrea Camilleri”, Storytelling: A Critical Journal of Popular Narrative, 9.1, 2009, pp. 37-52. Since I completed my PhD, I have published The Importance of Place in Contemporary Italian Crime Fiction: A Bloody Journey (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2012) and co-edited (with Jean Anderson and Carolina Miranda) The Foreign in International Crime Fiction: Transcultural representations (Continuum, 2012). I am now working on another book focusing on Italian crime fiction and an edited book on international crime series.”

Clare Tunney (Doctor of Musical Arts, UWA)

A study of violoncello playing in Italy in the nineteenth century.

“I am enormously grateful to The Cassamarca Foundation for its generous support of my research trip in 2009. The year in Italy was more fruitful and rewarding than I had ever anticipated and led to new opportunities for research and concert activities in Australia. In August 2010 I presented a paper – now in preparation for publication – at the UWA School of Music on the use of vibrato in 19th century Italian cello playing. In addition, my library research in Italy uncovered several important Italian compositions for cello which have, quite undeservedly, been absent from the concert stage for over a century. I presented a selection of these works in public recitals in Perth in 2010, and will perform others in similar recitals at the University of Western Australia in 2011.

Some of the most important and satisfying outcomes of the trip have come from the friendships made with Italian musicians and scholars. Maestro Divide Monty (violinist) and Maria Cleary (harpist) of Duo Ararat, are travelling to Perth in March 2011 at my invitation. Together we will perform programs of Italian works for violin, cello and harp in concerts at The University of Western Australia, John Septum’s Roe School and Trinity College in Perth. We will conduct master classes and workshops on Italian baroque music with secondary school students. The Duo’s visit to Perth will also facilitate the planning of future concerts, as well as proposed recordings in Australia and Italy in 2011 and 2012. Prof. Giovanni Di Leonardo and Maestro Galileo Di Ilion of the Association Cultural “G. Braga” onlus have also proven to be an ongoing source of mutual support and inspiration, both personally and professionally. They have invited me to return to Giuliani in July 2011 to perform concerts marking the launch of their most recent publication on the music of cellist Gaeta no Braga. I am very much looking forward to this return trip to Italy and the opportunities it will provide me for further research and concert activities with Italian musicians, both in Italy and in Australia.”


Natasha Amendola (PhD, Monash)

Weaving and Unweaving Penelope: a study of her fortunes in Latin and vernacular literature from Ovid to Boccaccio.

“The research trip enabled by my ACIS scholarship allowed me to explore at first hand medieval and early modern manuscripts. I was able to present the preliminary results of my research in 2008 at the 7th Biennial Conference of ANZAMEMS (Australian and New Zealand Association for Mediaeval and Early Modern Studies) in a paper entitled ‘How Medieval Commentators Dealt with Penelope’s Cunning’. A revised version will appear as “Weaving Virtue: Laura Cereta as a New Penelope”, in  Karen Green and Constant Mews (eds), Virtue Ethics for Women 1200-1500 (Springer, 2011). Since then I have been awarded one of the 2011 Bill Kent Prato Prizes which will take me to Prato in January for a week-long series of workshops and seminars organised by the Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. I shall be using this visit to develop my paleographic skills as I work towards completion of my PhD.”

Josh Brown (PhD, UWA)

Multilingual communication in the letters of Francesco di Marco Datini.

“I have very much appreciated the award of an ACIS Cassamarca Scholarship. The award helped me to complete my PhD (Italian Studies) in 2011 at The University of Western Australia, entitled “Early Evidence for Tuscanisation in the letters of Milanese merchants in the Datini Archive, Prato, 1396-1402”. The Scholarship enabled me to spend three months in 2008 at the Archivio di Stato in Prato, researching my topic and making invaluable contacts throughout Italy. This was an invaluable experience, allowing me to study the manuscripts I used for my research in detail and to understand the marvelous mechanisms of an Italian archive. The Scholarship also provided support to attend the 2010 AAIS conference at the University of Michigan and the 2011 ACIS conference in Melbourne, from which I have had two journal articles accepted for publication: “Evidence for early Tuscanisation in the commercial letters from the Milanese merchant Giovannino da Dugnano (?-1398) in the Datini Archive in Prato”, Italica (2012, vol.89) and “Language variation in 15th century Milan: evidence of koineization in the letters (1397-1402) of the Milanese merchant Giovanni da Pessano”, Italian Studies (2013) Unlike those owed to the 14th century Tuscan merchant Francesco Datini, the debts that I have accrued in these past years are irrepayable and unquantifiable, and I am thus eternally grateful to the Cassamarca Foundation for the help it has provided.”

Theodore Ell (PhD, Sydney)

Lichens on broken stone: Piero Bigongiari’s Rogo and the quest for survival.

“My ACIS Scholarship took me to Florence in 2008 and I have returned many times, working in several archives to reconstruct the life and work of the poet Piero Bigongiari in the 1940s. Bigongiari’s collection Rogo (1944-1952) dramatically voiced the traumas of war, the terror of watching a whole country gutted and the aches of recovery afterwards. Rogo was also in itself a testament to the durability of the poetic vocation, as each individual poem built on the motifs and seeds of meaning in its predecessor, creating new shapes out of fragments and ruins. Yet it was also in many ways a puzzling book, as between many promising threads of ideas there were long gaps, and at sudden turns it seemed to rethink its project. The book itself seemed just as shaken and battle-scarred as its subjects. What could have happened, I wanted to know, for Bigongiari to wrestle with his craft in such agony? How did he overcome his difficulties, and were there any insurmountable problems?

My research in 2008 uncovered lost manuscripts, new connections between the poems and Bigongiari’s other writings, and a previously unknown trip to Britain in 1948. I reconstructed the process of writing Rogo and traced the development of an earlier version of it, Quaderno nero, the failure of which caused Bigongiari to re-think his writing habits as profoundly as he had done during the war itself. My thesis on this intensive re-working, and the powerful poetry that resulted, earned my PhD in 2010.

I have since published a number of articles on Bigongiari, in journals including The Italianist and Mosaici, as well as translations of his travelogues in Modern Greek Studies, and have also taken opportunities to write and translate in different spheres, with an essay on contemporary poet Paolo Fabrizio Iacuzzi in Atelier and a two-part translation, with commentary, of letters by the Enlightenment mineralogist Giovanni Arduino, something of an eighteenth-century David Attenborough. I am also writing the book version of my study of Rogo, also called A Voice in the Fire, and scheduled for publication with Troubador (UK) in 2013. I am an Honorary Associate in my home department at Sydney, making regular research contributions. I am also co-founder and poetry editor of a new biannual literary journal, Contrappasso Magazine, which, despite its dantesco name, has an international outlook and has published writers from Australia, the US, the UK and Greece as well as Italy.

In Italy, particularly Florence, it is true to say that I have a second life, and I am very grateful to ACIS and the Cassamarca Foundation for helping me start it.”


Brigid Maher (PhD, Monash)

The translation of humour in literature.

“The research I undertook in Italy has led to the publication of several articles (‘The sky here compensates for solitude: space and displacement in a migrant’s tale’, Literature and Aesthetics, 17(2): 174-191; ‘The comic voice in translation: Dario Fo’s Accidental  Death of an Anarchist’, Journal of Intercultural Studies 28(4): 367-379), two book chapters (‘Identity and humour in translation: the extravagant comic style of Rosa Cappiello’s Paese Fortunato’, in Paschalis Nikolau and Maria-Venetia Kyritsi (eds), Translating Selves: Experience and identity between languages and literatures, London, Continuum, 2008, 141-153; ‘Comedy in translation: keeping the faith’, in Julian Lamb and Jan Lloyd-Jones (eds), Art and Authenticity, Melbourne, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2010) and a book, Recreation and Style: Translating Humorous Literature in Italian and English (Amsterdam, 2011). Also to appear in 2011 is Words, Images and Performances in Translation (London: Continuum), co-edited with Rita Wilson. I continue to translate and research contemporary Italian literature, and now teach Italian language, culture and translation at La Trobe University.”

Roza Passos (PhD, Melbourne)

Late medieval illuminated manuscripts.

“My Cassamarca scholarship in 2007 related to research for my PhD, ‘From Father to Son: Interpreting the Text and Illustration of the Cocharelli Family’s Manuscript on the Vices and Virtues’. It focuses on two fragmentary Latin tracts on the Vices and Virtues, instructional guides for the children of the Cocharelli family, produced in Genoa c. 1335. The scholarship allowed me to consult a number of relevant late medieval manuscripts and frescoes in Italian collections, and to visit Genoa, the city where the Cocharelli lived. At the Archivio di Stato di Genova, with the help of the molto simpatica Dr Giustina Olgiati, I uncovered obscure genealogical references in old documents that have provided critical background information on the Cocharelli family.”

Katherine Rowe (PhD, Monash)

Early Modern Italian women in northern courts.

“My PhD project, provisionally entitled ‘Friendship and Women’s Political Networks in the Renaissance Courtly State’, focuses on the study of networks among highly-placed women in Northern Italian courts in the period 1470-1550 and the ways in which the content and style of their correspondence had both personal and political importance. I shall be using the scholarship to undertake archival research in Modena, Mantua and Milan where substantial and hitherto unexplored collections of letters among women are held. Of particular interest are the letters written by Eleanora of Aragon and Lucrezia Borgia, available in the Archivio di Stato in Modena, and the letters of Isabella d’Este to her husband and to her female kin and friends, held in the Archivio di Stato of Mantua. In Milan I shall explore the letters in the Carteggio Sforzesco, Potenze Sovrane. In 2008 I shall be presenting a paper on “Sisterly Love and Friendship in the Early Letters of Isabella d’Este and Elisabetta Gonzaga” at ANZAMEMS (Australian and New Zealand Association for Mediaeval and Early Modern Studies).”


Glenys Adams (PhD, Melbourne)

The private rooms of San Filippo Neri at the Vallicella church in Rome: an interdisciplinary exploration in art, religion and society.

“The ACIS-Cassamarca Scholarship provided me with the opportunity to investigate on-site the Rooms of San Filippo Neri at the Santa Maria in Vallicella church in Rome, explore church and state archives, specialist libraries and photographic archives and visit comparative religious devotional sites in Italy to support research for an interdisciplinary PhD thesis in art history and museology.  That research would not have been possible without the support of the scholarship.  The thesis, The Oratorians and the Memorialization of San Filippo Neri in Italy, examines the relationship between the memory of a saint and the physical spaces created to perpetuate his cult in seventeenth-century Italy.  On the basis of this research I have published ‘Sites of Convergence and Divergence: Private Devotional Sites in Seventeenth- Century Rome’ in Jaynie Anderson (ed) Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence (Melbourne, Miegunyah Press, 2009) pp.459-465 and presented two papers: ‘Private devotional spaces in Seventeenth Century Rome’ at the The Fourth Biennial ACIS Conference, International Conference of Italian Studies at Griffith University in July 2007, and  ‘From Saintly Austerity to Lavish Cultic Display: The rooms of Saint Ignatius Loyola at the Gesù and the Rooms of San Filippo Neri at Santa Maria in Vallicella, Rome’ at the symposium Art in Baroque Rome, New Directions in Research: Baroque Arcadias – Baroque Display at the University of Melbourne in November 2007.”

Sally Grant (PhD, Sydney)

The idea of the garden in Early Modern Venice.

“As I near the completion of my PhD I feel fortunate to have this opportunity to thank the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies and the Cassamarca Foundation for their support in the initial stages of my doctoral studies – a vital signal of confidence in my ability at a very important moment.  The ACIS Cassamarca Scholarship that I received in 2006 was in fact the first grant that enabled me to travel to Italy to conduct the primary research that has been essential for my dissertation.

Studying the idea of the garden and what this meant to the eighteenth-century Venetian nobility has necessitated the analysis of paintings and texts, as well as of a number of Veneto country villas.  Being able to examine these sites in situ has been invaluable to my research; it has allowed me an insight into an aspect of culture that was essential to early-modern Venetian society but that is perhaps overlooked today by the alluring pull of the city of Venice and her watery environs. I have been able to present my findings at a number of conferences in Australia and overseas since holding the scholarship.  In February 2011 I presented a paper at the College Art Association’s Annual Conference in New York entitled “Garden Chambers and Global Spaces: Giandomenico Tiepolo’s Chinoiserie Room at the Villa Valmarana” which explored the landscape as a stimulus to imagination and story-telling and how this manifested itself visually in the room of a Veneto country estate to create a particularly Venetian rendering of the exotic land of Cathay.”

Jodi Hodge (PhD, Monash)

Under the shadow: religious life and cultural exchange between Florence and Prato in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

“My research explored the connections between visual, religious and literary cultures in late Medieval and Renaissance Florence. My scholarship enabled me to explore the Archivio di Stato, the Biblioteca Nazionale and the Riccardiana library in Florence, as well as the Archivio di Stato and the Biblioteca Roncioniana in Prato, for relevant materials. Of particular interest was the way in which Dominican perceptions of Mary Magdalen had been fused with Aristotelian notions of civic and spiritual perfection. How these notions were made manifest in art and literature was the focus of my masters and doctoral research. My investigations encompassed the fourteenth century sermons by Remigio dei Girolami who sought to unite a fractious Florence through his revision of Mary Magdalen as the exemplum of cardinal virtue through imperfection. Nearly two hundred years later Fra Angelico would reignite the potency of Mary Magdalen as a symbol of ethical and moral growth in his ‘Magdalen-esque’ depictions of Saint Dominic in the novitiate cell frescoes at San Marco, Florence. Other research areas included the study of the cult movements in Florence; especially that of the Virgin Mary, the sacra cingola and the Bianchi of 1399. Although I am no longer in the academic field, I am in the process of translating Remigio dei Girolami’s sermons (see Jodi Hodge, ‘The Virtue of Vice: Preaching the Cardinal Virtues in the Sermons of Remigio dei Girolami’, Medieval Sermon Studies, 2008, 52, 1, pp.16-18) and now reside in the Netherlands.” 


Catherine England (PhD, Sydney)

Children and childhood in Renaissance Florence.

“I was awarded my PhD in 2007 from Sydney University.  Receiving the ACIS scholarship was instrumental in being able to complete my thesis; it enabled me to undertake a second research trip to Florence, during which I was able to examine large quantities of the material in the archives that formed the basis of my thesis.

In the later stages of my PhD and subsequently, I worked at the University of Newcastle, as a lecturer and researcher in History, Theology, and Religious Studies (2006-2009). Since then I have been working for Nick Eckstein as a research assistant; I could not have done this job without the experience in archival work that the ACIS scholarship made possible. I have now decided to devote myself to secondary school teaching and have just completed a GradDipEd (2010).

Completing the PhD certainly enriched my own life and understanding and gave me the job opportunities I have had.  I also believe that as a school teacher, having done the PhD, including travel overseas for archival work, I understand my fields much better and am far better equipped to teach school students the what and how of History – and also English – than would have been the case if I had not done the PhD.”

Sandra Margon (PhD, UTS)

An assessment of the impact of Europeanisation and European Union policies on the Italian higher education system.

“The Cassamarca scholarship afforded me the opportunity to undertake the first part of my fieldwork research in Italy. As part of my research I interviewed over 90 academics, professional staff and students in universities in North, South and Central Italy in an effort to understand the transformations occurring as part of the Bologna Process in large and small institutions.

Professionally, the exposure to European higher education dialogues, transformations and contacts provided me with the expertise to move into a new role focusing specifically on Australia-Europe research interactions. The scholarship opportunity was and remains an invaluable tool in both my professional and personal development.”

Cristina Potz (PhD, La Trobe)

The cultural and literary relationship between the Accademia Pomponiana and the circle of Spanish intellectuals and literati in Rome in late 15thC.  and early 16thC.

Cristina Potz died in 2008. A year earlier she described her research interests at La Trobe University in these words: “In March 2004, I began my PhD research project. My doctoral thesis focuses on the literary relationship between Spanish and Roman intellectuals at the beginning of the sixteenth century in Rome and in order to further my research, this year I spent several months in Italy, consulting manuscripts held in Italian libraries and archives. Terribly interesting and, yes, also rather expensive! But I have been fortunate enough to be the recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award, as well as of an ACIS Cassamarca Scholarship. Combined with a Research Grant approved by the Faculty, I received sufficient financial support to enable me to conduct my research overseas.” At the ACIS Conference in Brisbane in 2007 she presented a paper entitled ‘L’Historia Baetica: opera drammatica o documento storico?’ which was subsequently published in the Journal of Historical and European Studies, 2007, Vol. 1, December, pp. 69-75.

At the time of her death Cristina was teaching in the Italian programme at Deakin University where she is remembered as an outstanding person, committed to teaching and passionate about life. She was awarded her PhD posthumously by La Trobe University in 2009.


Mathias Stevenson (MA, Monash)

The Afflictions of an Outsider: Exploring the ‘Paradox of Selfhood’ in the Early Cinema of Nanni Moretti.

“The ACIS scholarship helped me achieve a First Class result for my thesis. I then worked at the Italian Institute of Culture for two years after which I have worked as an Italian teacher. I’ve applied to undertake a PhD in Italian Studies in 2011 which will enable me also to work up for publication materials from my Masters thesis.”

Ivana Krsnik-Lipohar  (Hons, Griffith)

The ‘Youth protest movement’ in Italy. Challenging the new social movement theories.

“I devoted my 3-month scholarship to conduct research and interviews in Milan and Bologna in relation to my Honours thesis. I was able to interview not only young activists from the social centres Eterotopia,  La Tribù and Vittoria in Milan but also members of the youth sections of the Democrat Left and Communist Refoundation parties. In Bologna I attended a ‘Free Software’ convention at the University of Bologna and enrolled a number of media activists into my research sample. I was also able to interview a group of young activists from the social centre Livello 57. In both cities I also talked to some of the leftwing protagonists of the 1970s so I could compare their protests and experiences with those of the activists of the early 21st century.”

Daniela Rose (PhD, Flinders)

A Study of Australian Migrants from Caulonia (Calabria) to South Australia.

“I used my ACIS scholarship to conduct research in Italy for my doctoral thesis: Making Connections: A Study of Australian Migrants from Caulonia (Calabria) with Special Reference to South Australiaastudy of the history of Cauloniese migration to Australia. I am extremely grateful to ACIS and the Fondazione Cassamarca for having provided the financial assistance to enable me to conduct interviews in Caulonia and collect secondary sources on Calabrian and Cauloniese emigration, particularly to Australia. I could not have written a PhD of such quality without the scholarship.

I am now Lecturer and Director of Studies in Italian at Flinders University. My continuing research in Italy has led so far to several publications: “Calabria in Australia: Customs and Traditions of Italians from Caulonia”. Italian Historical Society Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1 and 2, January-December 2005, pp. 26-32; “Connections with the homeland: community and individual bonds between South Australian Italian migrants from Caulonia (Calabria) and their hometown”, FULGOR, Vol. 3, Issue 3, 2008; “Dall’Australia a Caulonia: esperienze di rimpatriati calabresi nel dopoguerra”, Studi Emigrazione (Rome), XLVI, n. 173, 2009; and a substantial book (with Desmond O’Connor), Caulonia in the Heart. The settlement in Australia of migrants from a Southern Italian town. Caulonia nel cuore. L’insediamento in Australia di emigrati italiani provenienti da una cittadina del Sud, Adelaide, Lythrum Press, 2008. My research project has also served as a model for investigations of other communities and for comparative studies of migration by other ethnic groups.” 


Natasha Bajan (PhD, Sydney)

Women as public intellectuals in Italy late 18th to early 20th centuries: three cases of female journalists.

“My research builds on my earlier work which has appeared as “Women’s Journalism in Late Eighteenth-Century Venice: Elisabetta Caminer Turra”, in Heather Merle Benbow, Guido Ernst, and Colin Nettelbeck (eds), (Sub)Texts: New Perspectives on Literature and Culture (Melbourne: University of Melbourne Press, 2002), pp. 27-43. My research trip to Italy will enable me to consult the works of three authors – Elisabetta Caminer Turra, Cristina di Belgioioso Trivulzio and Anna Maria Mozzoni – some of which are unpublished in any modern edition and many of which are unavailable for viewing except in the libraries that conserve them. These texts, in addition to representing the gradual cultural emancipation of women from the 18th to 20th centuries, also illustrate the increase in women’s intellectualism and its increasingly public nature.”

Adriana Diaz (Hons, Griffith)

Policies on language acquisition and acculturation in multicultural Italy: sociolinguistic issues.

“Being a recipient of the ACIS Cassamarca Scholarship allowed me to conduct research in Italy which was integral to completing my Honours thesis. This has given me the opportunity to present my results at conferences and workshops in Australia and overseas and to publish a recent co-authored article (Liddicoat, A. J. & Díaz, A. (2008) “Engaging with diversity: Intercultural policies and the education of immigrant children in Italy” Intercultural Education, Vol 19 No 2, pp. 137-150). Between 2003 and 2008 I was a tutor in Italian and Spanish at Griffith and, from 2009, Associate Lecturer in Spanish. I have also completed my PhD, ‘Developing a Languaculture Agenda in Australian Higher Education Language Programs’, which uses case studies based on Italian courses to develop an understanding of the acquisition of intercultural skills through language learning – an interest sparked by my original Honours research project.  So I will always be grateful for the opportunity that the ACIS-Cassamarca Foundation scholarship gave me.”

Sarah Finn (PhD, UWA)

Father of the Italian nation: Dante Alighieri and the construction of Italian national identity, 1861-1945.

“I used my scholarship to unearth and analyse many kinds of documents relevant to the use of Dante as a supreme national symbol but not available in Australia. I was able to consult sources in Florence (Biblioteca Nazionale and the Società dantesca)  and in Rome (the Archivio di Stato and the archives of the Società Dante Alighieri). Since one aspect of my study was the memorialisation of Dante in public spaces, I also visited Trento, Turin and Naples to analyse particularly important examples of the practice in monuments, streets and squares. Those materials enabled me to complete my PhD, entitled “‘Padre della nazione italiana‘: Dante Alighieri and the construction of the Italian nation, 1800-1945”, which examined the contradictory promotion of Dante as a symbol not just of the new secular Italian nation-state but also of a Catholic version of italianità and, later, of imperialism and the Fascist conception of the Italian nation. I am currently completing research on the image of the Duce in the Italo-Australian press after 1945 as part of a broader ARC-funded group project on ‘The cult of the Duce in the wider world’ led by Prof. Richard Bosworth.”


Stephen Bennetts (PhD, UWA)

The social and cultural context of projects for the “rivalorizzazione dei beni culturali” in the South of Italy, particularly Naples.

“The Cassamarca grant assisted me to carry out ethnographic fieldwork in Calabria, Salento, Campania, Naples and Rome in 2002-3 for my PhD  research project entitled ‘Tradition and Contamination: an Ethnography of the Southern Italian Folk Revival’. Publications which derive from this work include: ‘“Berlusconi hasn’t arrived here yet”: the contemporary Italian Folk Revival as a response to Modernity’ in Pass, G & Woods, D (eds) Alchemies: Community Exchanges, Black Swan Press, Perth 2004. My research has also informed the numerous reviews I have written of Italian books in recent years.

Fieldwork in Italy has also led to two positive spinoffs of an applied nature: the organisation of the Perth Social Forum in 2005; and, as a direct result of my fieldwork on  Campanian Carnival in 2003, the establishment of the Fremantle Carnival in 2009, For its 2010 edition I curated and produced an  ethnophotographic exhibition and  catalogue essay by my principal Calabrian revivalist informant: ‘“Carnevale in the Italian Countryside”: the Ethnophotography of Angelo Maggio 2004-2009’. Details of the third edition (February 2011) can be found at <> which features a number of my fieldwork photos.”

Gary Bonar (Hons, La Trobe)

Translation theory in practice: a novel by Stefano D’Andrea from Italian into English.

“During my research in Italy I conducted a series of interviews with Stefano D’Andrea  which were invaluable in informing my translation of his novel. He also enabled me to meet other writers and widen my knowledge of contemporary Italian literature. I also made use of the extensive resources of the libraries of the University of Trieste and at the IULM and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, all of which have specialised collections on translation studies. After completing my studies with a First Class Honours degree at La Trobe and a Master in Education from Monash University, I returned to Italy to continue my career as an educator and budding translator. While the dynamic pace of life in Milano had its attractions, via a series of fortunate events we were able to move to one of Italy’s most liveable cities, Verbania on Lago Maggiore. Though relatively small, Verbania has a vibrant atmosphere and it was always stimulating teaching English to tertiary students, professionals and the strong arts community there. Now back in Melbourne, I am fortunate to be able to share my passion for all things Italian and Japanese in one of my roles as a secondary school Italian and Japanese language teacher.”

Margaret Toomey (Geoghegan) (Hons, Griffith)

The novels of Clara Sereni.

“The Cassamarca scholarship allowed me to complete research for my Honours project, meet with academics in the field of Italian women’s literature, and to interview Clara Sereni, the author of the novels discussed in my dissertation. However, this scholarship gave me so much more than academic material, valuable though this was. It also gave me an opportunity for immersion in the Italian language and culture in a way that not only improved (dramatically) my competence with the language, but also gave me an insight into life in Italy on a daily basis. The people I met in Italy took me into their homes and their lives; they shared with me, often quite passionately, their opinions on many topics from food to politics, from literature to entertainment. Thanks to the Cassamarca scholarship I was able to continue my Honours degree with renewed enthusiasm and greater confidence in my linguistic abilities and cultural understanding. I have now completed a Post-graduate Degree in Secondary Education with English and Italian as my  two teaching areas and am now teaching in Ipswich (Old).”


Kathleen Olive (PhD, Sydney)

Medieval pilgrimage literature: preparation of an edition of the Itinerario of Marco di Bartolomeo Rustici.

“My ACIS scholarship enabled me to undertake a detailed study of Renaissance manuscripts in Florence. I presented some of the results of my research in a paper at the ANZAMEMS Conference in 2008: “A Fifteenth-Century Florentine Memory Palace in Jerusalem.” I have also worked on editions of plays written by 16thC  Tuscan nuns and on literary constructions of memory and identity in 15thC Florence, as well as on the mnemonic functions of, and sources for, mediaeval Italian city descriptions.”

Sandra Graham (PhD, Griffith)

An oral history of Italian women directors of feature films for cinema and television, 1969-1999.

“I owe so much to my ACIS scholarship and the Cassamarca Foundation. My three  months of research in Rome still ripple through my life. Apart from the interviews and archive work I was able to carry out, it consolidated my love for Italy and gave me the opportunity to hone my knowledge of the language and culture. Alongside my continuing research on my scholarship topic, I have added a new interest – I am writing my first novel, Case No.1, which is set in Calabria in 1978. It’s a crime novel but touches on the North/South divide, the deterioration of mountain towns because of migration, the impact of the feudal system and foreign systems of rule on Calabria, but most of all it takes its inspiration from the incredibly long-drawn-out process to establish the Pollino National Park. I submitted my first chapter to the Crime Writers’ Association (UK) competition Debut Dagger Awards and was awarded a rare “Highly Commended” for what the judges said was a ‘charming and funny tale of a trainee  detective investigating murder in a dying Italian town’. I am also developing a business called My Piece of Italy which caters to Italophiles in English-speaking countries. I’ve completed a trailer and business plan and am going expanding my contacts in Italy.”