Presentations by M.A. Students in Italian: Gabriella Di Palma and Guido Guerra


Location: Special Collections (View on map )

Please join the Center for Italian Studies for discussion of the new work by two students in the Italian M.A. program at the University of Notre Dame.

Gabriella Di Palma, "'The Magnificent and Progressive Destiny' of Unified Italy: History and Sicily in Il Gattopardo"

The political unification of Italy between 1861 and 1871 brought to the fore several issues regarding the formation of a new Italian identity. The cultural and historical diversity of Italy's regions rendered difficult the establishment of a shared sense of identity and the Southern regions came to be perceived as the internal "other." Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo (1958) set in Sicily between 1860 and 1910, describes the crucial years of the Risorgimento and its aftermath up until period preceding World War I. The novel depicts a society rooted in tradition, but also suspended in time and skeptical towards historical progress.  In particular, the aristocratic figure of Don Fabrizio embodies a pessimistic view of history, as well as of society and politics. Such an attitude towards progress might remind us of Giacomo Leopardi's skepticism vis-à-vis any optimistic theory of historical progress. By exploring the themes of pessimism, decadence, and history in Il Gattopardo, we can better understand not only the so-called "otherness" of Southern Italy, but also the origins of the "Southern Question."  

Guido Guerra, "The Commedia as Connection: Dante in Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass"

This talk will present evidence from both the published and unpublished works of Walt Whitman to support a reconsideration of his appreciation and application of Dante's Commedia, particularly the Inferno. While American-Literature studies have noted that Whitman read, and greatly admired, Dante, they have, to this point, focused on later editions of Leaves of Grass; specifically, that of 1867, which featured Drum-Taps, a description of, and meditation on, the sights and horrors of the American Civil War, which Whitman served in as a nurse. Neglected is Dante's presence in the earlier, 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass, which came shortly after Whitman first read the Inferno, in 1859. Both implicitly and explicitly, Whitman incorporated the words and world-view of Dante into his own work, reinforcing his standing as the great modern bard.


Rare Books and Special Collections
102 Hesburgh Library
Thursday, February 21, 2019
5:00 - 6:30 pm

Italstudies B Blue