Research Seminar: "Toxic Tales: Narrating Dioxin in Contemporary Italy" - Monica Seger (William and Mary)


Location: Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries

The Italian Research Seminar

Monica Seger (William and Mary) - "Toxic Tales: Narrating Dioxin in Contemporary Italy"

Thursday, March 17 at 4:30pm in Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries

This talk explores the relationship between narrative practices, diseased bodies and imperceptible chemical toxins. In particular, it examines how literary, cinematic and oral narratives emplot the embodied afterlives of exposure to dioxin, an odorless, carcinogenic industrial byproduct, at two Italian sites. The first, Seveso, was home in 1976 to one of the greatest immediate releases of dioxin into the atmosphere worldwide, while the second, Taranto, currently produces over 80% of Italy’s national dioxin output. In both sites, residents face significantly increased risk for a range of cancers, respiratory disease, and genetic abnormality. Remarkably, both sites also inspire a rich culture of creative narrative engagement with the twin processes of exposure and embodiment. From first-person testimony to fiction film, Italy’s dioxin narratives seek to register the burgeoning and largely imperceptible human health reality imposed by dioxin.

Assistant Professor Monica Seger happily joined the Italian program in Modern Languages & Literatures in Fall 2014. She completed the Ph.D. (2010) in Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and did her undergraduate work in Modern Literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz (B.A. 2002). Her research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century Italian literature and cinema, environmental criticism and gender studies. She has published articles on nature and technology in contemporary Italian fiction and film, in journals such as ItalicaThe Italianist, and California Italian Studies. Her first book, Landscapes in Between: Environmental Change in Modern Italian Literature and Film is forthcoming with the University of Toronto Press.  She enjoys teaching Italian literature, film and cultural studies, as well as intermediate language courses.