Spring 2019

News from the Center for Italian Studies at University of Notre Dame

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The Center for Italian Studies at the University of Notre Dame provides a permanent home for the research, education, and outreach initiatives previously coordinated by Notre Dame's Italian Studies program and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies, and their partners on campus, in Rome, and around the world. The mission of the Center is to support research and education in the languages, cultures, and peoples of Italy from a broad array of disciplinary perspectives.

For more information about upcoming events and initiatives, visit the Center’s newly redesigned website (https://italianstudies.nd.edu/).

The Center for Italian Studies Welcomes Dr. Christian Vassallo and Damien Pollard


Distinguished Visiting US-Italian Fulbright Assistant Professor, Dr. Christian Vassallo is a ricercatore in the Dipartimento di Lingue e Scienze dell'Educazione at the University of Calabria (Cosenza), where he teaches History of Ancient Philosophy. His main research interests include Presocratic philosophy and doxography, Socratic dialogues, ancient rhetoric, and the theory of beauty, as well as the reception of ancient thought in modern and contemporary philosophy. At Notre Dame, he is teaching in the Program of Liberal Studies and is hosted by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies together with the Center for Italian Studies and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Join Dr. Vassallo on Thursday, March 21st at 5:15 pm in 214 O’Shaughnessy Hall for his lecture, “Controversial Issues on Plato’s Ideal of History and Progress,” as a part of the Workshop on Ancient Philosophy.


The Center for Italian Studies also welcomes Damien Pollard, an AHRC-funded doctoral candidate working within the Centre for Film and Screen and the Italian Section at the University of Cambridge. Pollard joins the University of Notre Dame as a Research visitor. His research is investigating the multivalent role which the human voice plays in the 'giallo' film – an Italian sub-genre of horror films – and particularly how it operates as a nodal point connecting the fascism of the Italy’s past, the problematic modernity of its present and the transnational status of its film industry. Prior to undertaking doctoral research, Damien was an award-winning documentary filmmaker.

Research Events and Initiatives

Series of Research Seminars Organized by the Center for Italian Studies

Spring 2019 Italian Research Seminar at Notre Dame

The Italian Research Seminar at Notre Dame, a core event of the Center for Italian Studies, aims to provide a regular forum for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and colleagues from other universities to present and discuss their current research. The Seminar constitutes an important element in the effort by Notre Dame’s Center for Italian Studies to promote the study of Italy and to serve as a strategic point of contact for scholarly exchange.


This spring’s Italian Research Seminar features presentations by Prof. Alessia Ricciardi (Northwestern University) – "German Presences: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet and the Question of Authorship"; M.A. Presentations by Gabriella Di Palma (M.A. Student in Italian Studies – University of Notre Dame) – “The Magnificent and Progressive Destiny' of Unified Italy: History and Sicily in Il Gattopardo" and Guido Guerra (M.A. Student in Italian Studies – University of Notre Dame) - "The Commedia as Connection: Dante in Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass"; Prof. Claudia Romanelli (University of Alabama) – “Pasolini Screenwriter for Fellini”; and Prof. Lorenzo Fabbri (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) – “De Sica's Genre Trouble: Rom-Coms against Fascism?”

All meetings of the Italian Research Seminar take place in the Rare Books and Special Collections in Hesburgh Library. Click here for Information on upcoming seminars, dates and times.

OVI Video Conference Seminar Series 2019 – “Textuality and Lexicography in the Italian Middle Ages”

A highlight of the long-standing collaboration between the Center for Italian Studies and the Opera del vocabolario italiano is a series of video conference seminars held on a regular basis and on various topics regarding the early Italian literature, philology, and lexicography.

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This fourth series of seminars focuses on early Italian literary and non-literary texts with particular emphasis on writings that deal with classical culture and vernacular literature as well as themes such as body, well-being, and medicine. The goal is to shed new light not only on textual-linguistic matters, but also on some relevant critical, historical, literary issues. The speakers in this spring’s series are (in order of appearance): Paolo Rigo (Roma Tre), Luca Lombardo (Notre Dame), Elena Artale (OVI), Giuseppe Zarra (OVI), Rossella Mosti (OVI), Matthias Bürgel (Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani). Click here for a complete schedule and information on each of the upcoming lectures.

For further information on upcoming seminars, contact: Dr. Demetrio Yocum.

Lunch Seminar: “The State as a Producer: The Role of Institutions in the Italian Film Industry, 1948 – 1963” – Paolo Noto (Bologna)

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The Center for Italian Studies presents a lunch seminar led by Prof. Paolo Noto (Bologna) on Monday, March 18, 2019 from 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM in 119 O’Shaughnessy Hall. Lunch will be provided. RSVP to italianstudies@nd.edu by March 13, 2019. This event is sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies with the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and the Department of Film, Television, and Theater. Click here for more details.



Dante Events and Initiatives sponsored by the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies with the Center for Italian Studies

Conference: March 6 – 8 Voices on Dante’s Inferno – A Journey towards the 700th Anniversary of the Poet’s Death (March 2019 – March 2021)

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Organized by Zygmunt Barański, Maria Antonietta Terzoli and Vincenzo Vitale (Universität Basel – University of Notre Dame)

Hosted by the Institut für Italianistik of the Universität Basel in collaboration with Notre Dame's Center for Italian Studies and Devers Family Program in Dante Studies, this is the first in a series of meetings on Dante's Inferno to mark the 700th anniversary of the poet's death. Five meetings, each of two and a half days, will be held in Basel between March 2019 and March 2021. The aim of the meetings is to assess and discuss the individual cantos. The discussions will bring together the invited speakers, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students. The first meeting, on March 6-8 at the University of Basel, covers the first seven cantos of Inferno. Click here for the complete two-year schedule.

Lecture: Sandow Birk on Dante

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Join us on Wednesday, March 27th from 4:00PM – 5:00PM in Special Collections (102 Hesburgh Library) for a special lecture by renowned illustrator Sandow Birk, who will be visiting Notre Dame on March 27 and 28. Additional details will be posted here closer to the date of the event. For more on Birk, see his website: http://www.sandowbirk.com/

This event is sponsored by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies, and the Program in Liberal Studies.


Workshop: Quodlibetal Culture in Dante’s Time (1280-1320): Florence, Italy, and Europe

This workshop, organized by Lorenzo Dell’Oso (University of Notre Dame) and Paola Nasti (Northwestern University), investigates the intellectual context of Dante Alighieri’s formation by focusing on the development of a less known genre of Scholasticism, the quodlibetal disputation, in late medieval Italy. The workshop will be held in 100-104 McKenna Hall on Friday, April 26, 2019,11:00am – 6:00 pm and on Saturday, April 27, 2019, 9:00am – 6:00pm. Click here for a list of speakers and discussants.

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Papers will be pre-circulated to participants and registered attendees so that the sessions can be dedicated to discussion. Contact Lorenzo Dell’Oso (ldelloso@nd.edu) with any questions.

This workshop is sponsored by the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies and the Center for Italian Studies with the Medieval Institute and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Re-reading Dante’s Vita nova: Chapters 40-42

May 16-17, 2019 at Rome Global Gateway of University of Notre Dame

Dante Reading

“Re-reading Dante’s Vita nova” is a collaborative research project involving researchers from University College London, the University of Bristol, the University of Cambridge, the University of Leeds, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Oxford, the University of Reading, and the University of Warwick. A series of events held over two years, between 2017 and 2019, each has focused on a different section of Dante’s Vita nova, its contexts, and its implications, producing a vibrant and varied new reading of this text.

This final seminar will be held at Notre Dame’s Rome Global Gateway and will feature presentations by Chiara Sbordoni (Notre Dame, Rome Global Gateway), Anne Leone (Syracuse) and Lorenzo Dell’Oso (Notre Dame).

Click here for the full schedule of this meeting. For further information about this project, see its blog.

Ravarino Lecture: “Ulysses or Penelope? Women writers rethink the Mediterranean” – Lucia Re (UCLA)


The Center for Italian Studies presents the third annual Ravarino Lecture on Thursday April 25, 2019 at 5:00PM in the Eck Visitor Center Auditorium. This year’s lecture, “Ulysses or Penelope? Women writers rethink the Mediterranean,” will be delivered by Prof. Lucia Re (UCLA)

Lucia Re is Professor of Italian at UCLA with an appointment in the Department of Gender Studies. This lecture will show how some contemporary women writers use the Italian idiom to imagine new cartographies of the postcolonial Mediterranean. This new approach is a creative expansion and critical revision of the mythic figure of Penelope, seen in contrast and opposition to that of Ulysses.

The talk will be followed by a reception in Eck Center Atrium just outside the lecture room, to which all are invited. RSVP before April 19, if you plan on attending the reception. Notre Dame affiliates may fill out this form. If you are not an affiliate of Notre Dame and plan on attending, please email italianstudies@nd.edu.

Research Initiatives and Seminars with Faculty Affiliates of the Center for Italian Studies

Ford Seminar: “Humanitarian Corridor Project and the Integration of Asylum Seekers in Italy” with Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee and Clemens Sedmak

Friday, April 5, 2019 from 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM in Hesburgh Center C103

Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee, Ford Family Research Assistant Professor, and Clemens Sedmak, Professor of Social Ethics, of the Keough School of Global Affairs will present their research for the Humanitarian Corridor Initiative. The recent Notre Dame News story, "Viaggi," documents how these Notre Dame researchers are studying refugee resettlement in Italy.

News from the Undergraduate Italian Program at University of Notre Dame

This spring, the Undergraduate Program in Italian at Notre Dame has seen a record number of students enrolled in our spring language courses. At a time when languages programs around the country are facing challenges, Italian Studies is an area of exceptional and growing strength at the University of Notre Dame. Great resources, outstanding faculty, and ground breaking institutional initiatives create unparalleled opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate study in the field of Italian Studies.

New Course Initiatives in Italian:

New Beginning Italian Course for Engineers

In the fall of 2018, Prof. Alessia Blad designed a new course specifically for the Notre Dame School of Engineering students who were preparing for a semester abroad in Rome. There was an enthusiastic response from the engineering students, who were able to take an Italian language course on campus in combination with their required engineering courses before their semester in Rome and several students have continued their language study in Rome this semester. This is just one of the many efforts of the Italian language program to work closely with schools across campus, such as the School of Engineering and the School of Architecture, preparing their students to study at the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.


ROIT 20111 - New Beginning / Intermediate Intensive Italian Language Course in Spring 2019

This spring Prof. Katie Boyle is offering a new intensive language course covering both the second and third semesters of Italian language study in just one semester. This Beginning/Intermediate Intensive course is state-of-the-art and computer-enhanced, featuring three hours of class per week plus two hours done online two days a week by reading, listening, completing exercises, posting writing assignments and recording speech. ROIT20111 is the third accelerated course of its kind at Notre Dame, along with ROIT 10110 and ROIT 20215, and is a direct response to a need of our students, who started in the 4-semester track of language study and were motivated to switch to an accelerated track after just the first semester. In describing the first semester of ROIT 20111, Boyle explained, “I have two incredible groups of students who, upon learning of this new course, jumped at the opportunity to accelerate their study of Italian language and culture, whether in preparation for a semester at the Notre Dame programs in Rome or to move more quickly into our upper level classes. I think it is a wonderful addition to our accelerated courses.” All three accelerated courses (ROIT 10110, ROIT20111 and ROIT 20215) will be offered during both the fall and spring semesters.

New Course! ROIT 64050 – Italian Graduate Reading – Summer 2019

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This newly redesigned online course, intended as an intensive study of Italian grammar and syntax for graduate students working in the humanities or sciences who are interested in gaining reading proficiency in Italian, will be offered this summer by Prof. Katie Boyle. This course is designed with reading for research purposes as the central aim and focuses its written work on skills graduate students would need to conduct a portion of their research in the target language, such as scanning a text, reading an article or chapter in the primary language, translating short excerpts for citation purposes, and being able to contextualize readings and summarize content within an argument. In addition to working on these skills, students in this course will work their way through a grammar textbook and focus on building vocabulary through reading and the use of a high frequency dictionary. Final projects will allow students to work on a text from their own field, chosen in consultation with the instructor. All students who earn an A in this course will receive credit for passing the graduate reading exam. For additional information about this course, please contact Prof. Katie Boyle (kboyle6@nd.edu).

Applications Open for Full Immersion Italian 102 and 201 in Rome – Summer 2019!

Rome Course

During the summer of 2018, Notre Dame Professor Tiziana Serafini offered a new beginning Italian class focused on integrating the learning of Italian with the practice and place-specific opportunities offered by the city of Rome. In addition to traditional instruction in class, students of Prof. Serafini’s course were taken to several locations where they were able to practice the language skills learned in the classroom in real life settings. These practical situations focused on the basic needs of everyday life living and studying in another country, such as morning coffee at a local “bar,” navigating the public transportation system, shopping for food and clothes, just to name a few. Students also learned about typical stores, places of entertainment specific to Rome, such as the food market in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori or the quaint restaurants in Testaccio or Trastevere. As a native of Rome, Prof. Serafini was able to introduce students to places off the beaten path, such as the organic stores in the ex-Mattatoio, the “erboristerie” or the “cinema d’essai.” Class sessions also featured meetings with local field specialists, such as cooking experts, art historians, and health food professionals.

Based on the success of last year’s full immersion course, Serafini has proposed both Italian 102 and 201 for this summer using the same pedagogical model, focused on speaking Italian both inside and outside of the classroom while students immerse themselves in daily life in Rome. In addition to a language course, students would be able to enroll in an additional course, for a total of six Notre Dame credits. The summer session would run from May 21st – June 29th and would culminate in a beautiful bilingual exhibition, "Inner and Outer Spaces in Italy," allowing students of Prof. Serafini’s class to share their language immersion and cultural experiences during the Rome Summer Session at the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.

Applications remain open for this summer program and some travel grants are available. For additional information about the proposed courses, please contact Prof. Tiziana Serafini (tserafin@nd.edu).

Faculty Awards and Recognitions:

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Associate Teaching Professor, Patrick Vivirito, was awarded The Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the 2018-9 academic school year. The Joyce Award honors faculty members who have had a profound influence on the undergraduate learning experience, elevated students’ intellectual engagement, and fostered students’ ability to express themselves effectively within a disciplinary context.



T Sera

Associate Teaching Professor, Tiziana Serafini, was awarded The Ursula Williams Faculty Fellowship by The Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC) and the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning. The Ursula Williams Faculty Fellowship is a one-semester Fellowship for Professional Specialists in the College of Arts and Letters that focuses on Second Language Acquisition, Technology and Pedagogy. When explaining her project, Serafini explained, “My project is geared to students of beginning Italian, and focuses on the possibility of creating interactive activities based on virtual exploration of an Italian city or the reading of an authentic text in Italian.” Work on this project will begin during the fall semester of 2019.


In memoriam

We would like to honor and remember those members of the Italian Studies community at Notre Dame whom we have recently lost.

V Bosco

Vittoria Bosco, Special Professional Faculty in Italian Studies at Notre Dame for over two decades, teaching alongside her husband, Professor Emeritus Paul Bosco (Ph.D., Harvard, 1942), who re-established Italian Studies at Notre Dame in 1947. After earning her doctorate at the University of Florence, Vittoria became an English teacher, and eventually moved in 1957 to South Bend, where Paul taught in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to her invaluable contributions to Italian Studies at Notre Dame, Vittoria Bosco also taught Spanish at Saint Mary’s College. Even after her retirement, Vittoria could often be found at the extra-curricular events of the Italian section, such as the monthly coffee hours. The legacy of Vittoria and Paul’s careers in the Italian section at Notre Dame and the passion they put into their work have left an indelible mark on the thriving program we have today.

Buttigieg In Memoriam

Joseph Buttigieg, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor Emeritus of English and retired director of the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars program at the University of Notre Dame, joined the faculty in 1980. In addition to his position in the English Department, Buttigieg was also a fellow at the University’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, the director of the Stamps Scholars Program and a Faculty Affiliate for the Center for Italian Studies at Notre Dame. Buttigieg’s main areas of interest were modern literature, critical theory and the relationship between culture and politics. In the field of Italian Studies he is best known as the editor and translator of the multi-volume complete critical edition of “Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks,” a project supported by an important grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Notre Dame president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. said, “Joe was a superb scholar, an inspirational teacher and a pioneering leader as the inaugural director of the fledgling Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program. We join with his many, many family and friends in mourning his passing. We will miss him at Notre Dame.”

Adapted from https://news.nd.edu/news/in-memoriam-joseph-buttigieg-kenan-professor-emeritus-of-english/.

L Hooper

Laurence Hooper, Assistant Professor of French and Italian at Dartmouth College is remembered by colleagues at Notre Dame for his time as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Devers Program in Dante Studies during the 2009-2010 academic year. Having earned master’s and doctorate degrees in Italian Studies from Cambridge University, Laurence’s scholarly trajectory brought him from the United Kingdom to the United States, where he taught and pursued his research at Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, Wesleyan University and Dartmouth College. His research focused on literary authorship in Italian culture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and he published on Dante and Petrarch, in addition to their contemporaries such as Guido Guinizzelli, Brunetto Latini and Cino da Pistoia. A dedicated researcher, teacher, mentor to his students and colleague to many, Laurence will be greatly missed.


Editor’s Note: For more information about the newsletter or to contribute to future editions, please contact Prof. Katie Boyle: (kboyle6@nd.edu).