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California Italian Studies

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Open Theme Issue

Claudio Fogu, Editor

Leslie Elwell, Managing Editor

Vol.11, Issue 2: Open Theme

Grounding the Fantastic: An Ecocritical Reading of I. U. Tarchetti’s “Uno spirito in un lampone”

This essay focuses on the story “Uno spirito in un lampone” to highlight I. U. Tarchetti’s contribution to the fantastic as a means of exploring the nightmares that haunt modern progress. Adopting a method of inquiry inspired by ecocritical principles and aimed at grounding the text in its own complex context, the author addresses two main questions: What are the cultural and social productions, conditions, and issues that inspire Tarchetti’s work? And how does his writing—in particular, his reflections on and emplotment of the relationship between reality and the imagination—contribute to the development of the fantastic mode? Through close textual analysis and wide-ranging contextual exploration, the essay shows how Tarchetti’s story puts into question the natural order and, by pointing to a connection between the treatment of women and the treatment of nature, exposes imbalances and abuses in the established order of social structures and institutions.

Rethinking Italy’s Margins Through Walking: Mobility, Activism and Positionality in Wu Ming 2’s Il sentiero luminoso (2016) and Giuliano Santoro’s Su due piedi (2012)

The article argues that Wu Ming 2’s Il sentiero luminoso (2016) and Giuliano Santoro’s Su due piediCamminando per un mese attraverso la Calabria (2012) describe walking as an activity which allows one to recognize the social modifications of space, and to rethink the geographies of suburban areas in Italy. This analysis resounds with Robert P. Marzec’s invitation to study how literature has represented the privatization and the capitalist and neoliberal organization of space, revealing forms of internal colonization which epitomize a pillar of colonial ideology. Il sentiero luminoso and Su due piedi reconfigure walking as an epistemological, ecocritical and postcolonial practice which allows one to cross paths with people who are marginalized in Italy, especially migrants. Drawing on Michel de Certeau’s and David Pinder’s reflections about space and representation, the article suggests that Il sentiero luminoso and Su due piedi show how the direct experience of a place through walking is germane to understanding the effects of economic exploitation present in human-land relations.

Historicizing Italian literature in the early sixteenth century: Pietro Bembo’s Prose

This article analyzes Bembo’s evolving outlook in his understanding of pre-Petrarchan authors during the redactions of his Prose nelle quali si ragiona della volgar lingua. It compares and contrasts all passages where Bembo’s views on the early poetic tradition manifest themselves and their revisions both in the autograph manuscript and in the 1525 editio princeps. The comparative analysis presented shows that Bembo was progressively perfecting the historicizing perspective presented in his work, and that he did this thanks to the acquisition of new knowledge and new sources and his own growing interest and attentiveness to the earlier poetic tradition.

The Location of Literature: Authorship and Co-Authorship in Abdelmalek Smari’s Fiamme in paradiso

This article is devoted to a late-early Italian “migrant” novel, Abdelmalek Smari’s Fiamme in paradiso (2000), and to the two collaborative processes from which this work originated. Intersecting migration and post-colonial studies, Smari’s case is unique in the early production of recent Italian “migrant literature,” as a copy of the original manuscript has been preserved and reveals how the author negotiated his authorship in two collaborations: the first with his teacher of Italian and the second with his literary editor. Situating the novel at the crossroads between Italian, Algerian, and Arabic literary traditions, in this article I study the way in which these two collaborations took place, by comparing the two versions of the text to point out how each participant’s ethical and linguistic choices contributed in shaping the novel’s aesthetics.

Rapt and En-chanted: Carmelo Bene’s Voice and the Beyond of Theatre

Carmelo Bene (1937–2002) was an Italian theatre artist who radically transformed the practice and conception of Western theatre from a series of points of view. He dramaturgically re-conceived famous plays, innovatively worked on voice, and reached to film and music, as well as engaged his theatre vision with philosophy. This introductory essay on Bene’s philosophical thought and theatrical praxis seeks to arouse interest in his work among English readers, so as to spark interdisciplinary conversations across a variety of fields including Italian studies, critical theory, European theatre, film studies, performance philosophy, and aesthetics. To elucidate some of the distinctive and exemplificatory traits of Benean anti-representational theatre, special attention is paid to one of his readings, Lectura Dantis (1981), and to one of his plays, Pinocchio, ovvero lo spettacolo della Provvidenza (1998) – both of which are among the most significant performances in Bene’s career.


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