Welcome to the first volume of California Italian Studies (CIS). Created by a group of scholars from across the University of California, CIS is a new digital, peer-reviewed journal, devoted to publishing innovative and influential research being done in Italian Studies across the world today. As spelled out in the journal’s Charter, CIS, which is assisted in its mission by a distinguished international advisory board, is especially committed to the principles of interdisciplinarity and comparativity. CIS wishes to promote outstanding critical work (on any period from the Middle Ages to today, and on any subject related to Italy) that engages in a theoretical reflection on its own approach, and on its implications within larger disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transnational contexts. The journal ultimately intends to foster new dialogues and stimulate intellectual exchanges among a broad spectrum of scholars and students within and outside of Italian Studies. The digital medium, open access, full subject and name searchability, and cross-referencing of our journal are meant to facilitate and enhance this intellectual process. The creative use of the digital platform of CIS is also ideal for enhancing and sharing research in fields such as music, visual culture, and cinema and media studies, which may not be as well served by traditional print journals. CIS will be published annually online, with a main section on a specific theme constituting the principal body of each annual issue, and a second, open-theme section devoted to a range of outstanding essays and articles on other topics. A small selection of texts, translations, documents, notes, survey articles, or work in progress deemed to be relevant and of exceptional interest (either for the thematic or for the open section) will also be included in each annual issue at the discretion of the editors.
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to our initiative, as well as to the exceptional scholarly caliber of the peer-reviewed submissions, this inaugural volume of CIS (2009-2010) is a double issue (co-edited by Claudio Fogu and Lucia Re).¹ Issue 1 is thematic and is devoted entirely to “Italy in the Mediterranean.” Issue 2 is instead “open-theme” and offers a rich sample of exemplary interdisciplinary research ranging from a study of gender and violence in 14th—century Lucca (Corinne Wieben), and the crisis of the author in the Renaissance (Carlo Vecce), to an analysis of the aesthetics and politics of the Watts Towers (Thomas Harrison). Of exceptional interest are the first translation into English of Arrigo Boito’s short stories (Nicolas Perella) and the documents presented here for the first time (with a critical introduction by Stefano Adami) regarding the international anarchist plot and subsequent police investigation that led Italo Calvino’s father to move with his family from the Mediterranean town of San Remo to the Caribbean shores of Mexico and then Cuba.
Although both the Mediterranean theme issue and the open-theme issue (and also the individual sections within the Mediterranean issue) are arranged in a loosely chronological and “period” order (from medieval and early modern to contemporary), it is our hope that the reader will take advantage of the flexibility of the journal’s digital format to create his or her own “map,” and a trans-historical as well as cross-disciplinary itinerary across the virtual space of California Italian Studies.
¹ As editors of this inaugural double issue, we would like to express our sincerest thanks to all the members of the CIS editorial and advisory boards who have helped us over the past two years. We are especially grateful to John Agnew, Iain Chambers, and John Marino. We gratefully acknowledge the funding provided by the University of California Italian Studies Multi-Campus Research Group (now the Italian Studies Multicampus Research Program Initiative), and the invaluable strategic cooperation of the California Digital Library and the Berkeley Electronic Press. To Regina Longo, our managing editor, go special thanks for her dedication, enthusiasm, patience, moral support, and endless generosity with her time. We also would like to thank our copyeditor, Rich Kaplan, for his tireless work and indefatigable sense of purpose and of humor. Others who contributed to bring this inaugural volume to life and deserve to be mentioned with gratitude include Sarah Carey and Jonathan Hiller. (CF and LR)