Postgraduate Colloquium Minorities Report. Italian Culture, Facing Otherness

On the 29th of November 2019, the Society for Italian Studies Postgraduate Colloquium took place in Durham, at St. Chad’s College, organised by PhD candidates Claudia Dellacasa and Martina Pala.

Minorities Report. Italian Culture, Facing Otherness was presented as an opportunity for PhD students and early-career scholars to discuss their research and their takes on culture and literature, thus starting making their voices heard in the field of Italian Studies, and to do so by investigating precisely multi-vocality and minorities’ voices.

13 speakers from the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Germany and France gathered to discuss how Italian collective identity builds upon the interplay of minorities of different kinds, by calling into question the very notion of ‘minority’, as well as those of ‘identity’, ‘hospitality’ and ‘integration’.

The event included a series of panels focusing on various thematic areas and dialoguing with one another. Mohamed Baya (Western University), Giulia Borrini (University of St Andrews) and Niamh Keenan (University of Edinburgh) discussed ‘Postcolonial Encounters’ in contemporary novels and photography. Giulia Abbadessa (Firenze, Paris and Bonn), Peyker Özler (University of Exeter), Martina Pala (Durham University) and Silvia Pulinas (University of Kent) investigated ‘Gender Perspectives’ in Italian literature, spanning between the XIX and the XXI century. Erica Bellia (University of Cambridge), Pietro Dalmazzo (Durham University) and Francesca Ghezzo (Università per Stranieri di Perugia) analysed the process of ‘Voicing Othernesses’, adopting literary, historical, and sociological lenses. Bianca Rita Cataldi (University College Dublin), Andrea Romanzi (University of Reading and Bristol) and Marco Ruggieri (University of Edinburgh) presented on ‘InterMediations’, intersecting ecopsychology, industrial literature, translation studies and cultural subalternity.

Prof Guido Furci’s (Paris 3, Sorbonne Nouvelle – Sorbonne Paris Cité) and Prof Loredana Polezzi’s (Cardiff University) keynote speeches engendered very fruitful discussions revolving around the position of intellectuals in today’s political and cultural scenario, the need to rethink hospitality in view of ever-changing migration patterns and the role of translation in this respect, but also the relevance of individual and collective memory as expressed in poetry, prose, and art.

Warm audience participation and involvement of both undergraduate and postgraduate students was key in developing these discussions. SIS PG Caucus at the end of the Colloquium was the cherry on the cake of a day of intellectual challenge and exchange. The future of the discipline and the future of young academics were the kernel of both: among the proposals for making Italian Studies more relevant and flourishing, there was an improved commitment with schools and civil society and the creation of a new postgraduate platform to publish works in progress in our disciplinary field.

Claudia Dellacasa

University of Durham

PG Caucus – SIS Biennial Conference, University of Edinburgh, 26-28 June 2019

The 2019 Biennial Society for Italian Studies Conference, held at the University of Edinburgh from the 26th to the 28th of June 2019, saw the participation of over 252 academics, who engaged in a stimulating and fruitful three-day scholarly gathering presenting the outstanding range of research carried out within the field of Italian Studies.

The conference saw a strong presence of postgraduate researchers who were able to showcase the potential and vivacity of their research, fostering the discussion within the numerous panels (72), contributing to the debate on the most current research in Italian Studies.

During the conference, PG convenor Rossella Riccobono (University of Saint Andrews) together with PG representatives Daniele Lei (University of St. Andrews), Bianca Rita Cataldi (University College Dublin) and Andrea Romanzi (University of Reading and University of Bristol) organised a Postgraduate Caucus. The meeting aimed to give the Society’s postgraduate students the opportunity to suggest and discuss ideas about projects and activities which could help them broaden and strengthen their research potential and its outcome, and at the same time acquire and develop new, fundamental skills for their career within and outside of academia. PG caucuses, which will be orgnised at every scholarly gathering of the Society for Italian Studies, represent also the perfect environment where students can raise questions and issues regarding their academic and professional career.

During the PG caucus of the 2019 SIS Biennial Conference, students and PG representatives engaged in a lively debate about activities and projects primarily aimed to foster collaboration and interdisciplinarity among postgraduate researchers and develop activities and platforms which would be instrumental in showcasing and disseminating their research to a broader public.

Moreover, students manifested their wish to participate in workshops and activities which would help them develop and enhance the transferable skills acquired during postgraduate academic research, and they raised questions about possible funding opportunities for publication of monographs at the completion of their Ph.D.

Andrea Romanzi

University of Reading and University of Bristol