Ruins and Rubble in Post-War Italy


Location: Rome Global Gateway (View on map )

October 14-16, 2022

A conference co-organized by University of Notre Dame and University College Cork

Ruins and Rubble in Post-War Italy

The Center for Italian Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Department of Italian at University College Cork present Ruins and Rubble in Post-War Italy, a conference at the University of Notre Dame’s Rome Global Gateway, which brings together international scholars at various career stages from diverse institutions in the US, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and Italy.

Ruins and rubble, signifiers of a material relationship with both time and space, have captured the imagination of writers, artists and thinkers for centuries. In Italy, the prevalence of classical ruins has tended to dominate artistic and literary representations, from the Middle Ages up to the nineteenth century. The importance of ruins and rubble in the culture, thought, and politics of the twentieth century, however, has received relatively little scholarly attention. This conference examines how the reflection on ruins and rubble shaped and was shaped by the world conflicts, dramatic economic fluctuations, widespread social movements, and unprecedented industrial and technological developments of the twentieth century. Reading the city and the built environment as the physical reflection of socio-historical conditions and events, the conference participants will examine ruins and rubble that result from conflict and its destructive nature, as well as those produced by the passage of time, environmental degradation or neglect.

Ruins And Rubble Poster 1

Ruins and Rubble in Post-War Italy is generously supported with grants from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the Center for Italian Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

The conference schedule can be found below. If you are interested in attending this in-person event, please contact the organizers at the following address:





Conference Program:


Friday, October 14

  • 4:30pm Welcome
  • 6:00 Reception


Saturday, October 15

10:00 – 11:30am Panel 1 (Chair: Silvia Ross)

  • Tim Edensor (Manchester Metropolitan University), “Attending to the Proliferation of Heritage Objects Undergoing Ruination”
  • Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg (Brown University), “Parentheses in Italian Histor(iagraph)y”
  • Charles Leavitt (University of Notre Dame), “‘Sulle rovine e colle rovine’: The Rhetoric of Ruins and Rubble in Post-War Italy”

12:00 – 1:30pm Lunch

2:00 – 3:30pm Panel 2 (Chair: Charles Leavitt)

  • Heather Hyde Minor (University of Notre Dame), “Piranesi and Ruins”
  • Charles Burdett (University of London), “The Italian Empire and the Debris of Utopia”
  • Franco Baldasso (Bard College), “The Ruins of Fascism as a Cultural Heritage: Dismissing Historicist Paradigms in Early-Postwar Italy”

3:30 – 4:30 Coffee Break

4:30 – 6:00pm Panel 3 (Chair: Chiara Barni)

  • Armando Maggi (University of Chicago), “The Others’ Ruins: The Fosse Ardeatine Mausoleum in Rome (1949) and the 9/11 Memorial Memory and Light in Padua (2005)”
  • Silvia Ross (University College Cork), “Ruins and the Wounded Body: Regeneration and Responsibility in Aldo Palazzeschi and Michael Ondaatje”
  • Neelam Srivastava (Newcastle University), “Cancellation or Palimpsest? Colonial Heritage and Public Spaces in Italy”

8:00pm Dinner


Sunday, October 16

10:00 – 11:30am Panel 1 (Chair: Alberto Lo Pinto)

  • John David Rhodes (University of Cambridge), “Disemboweled Vision: Mafai’s ‘Demolizioni’ and Ambiguous Modernism”
  • Mia Fuller (University of California, Berkeley), “Ruination New and Old in Ciociaria: World War II’s “marocchinate,” Malaria, and Memory”
  • Angelica Pesarini (University of Toronto), “Ruins and Rubble of the Black Mediterranean”

12:00 – 1:30pm Lunch

2:00 – 3:30pm Panel 2 (Chair: Charles Leavitt)

  • Francesco Pitassio (Università degli Studi di Udine), “Rubble, Ruins, and Cultural Trauma: A Transnational Look”
  • Chiara Barni (University of Notre Dame), “On the Edge Between Antiquity and Modernity: Fellini and Pasolini’s Rovinismo”
  • Giuliana Minghelli (Independent Scholar), “Filming Within the Ruins and the Ruins Within:The Practice of Memory in Florestano Vancini ‘s Fragheto, una strage. Perché?”

3:30 – 4:30 Coffee Break

4:30 – 6:00pm Panel 3 (Chair: Silvia Ross)

  • Alberto Lo Pinto (Independent Scholar), “Performative interventions at the ex-Snia Viscosa factory in Rome: investigating the relations between ruins and the wilderness”
  • Jacopo Turini (Cork), “Erosion and Waste: Border Ecosystems in Fabio Pusterla’s Poetry”
  • Monica Seger (The College of William & Mary), “An Appian Way for the Anthropocene”

6:30pm Concluding remarks

8:00pm Dinner