Dr. Joseph Sciorra Wins Studs Terkel Award

Photograph of Joseph Sciorra
Joseph Sciorra

As part of the Working-Class Studies Association Awards for work produced in 2020, this year’s Studs Terkel Award for Single Published Articles or Series, Broadcast Media, Multimedia, and Film in Media and Journalism goes to “Protesta Per Sacco & Vanzetti,” by the Calandra Institute’s Director of Academic and Public Programs Joseph Sciorra. A judge writes that the piece includes “extensive research into the songs related to the men’s arrest, trial and executions,” a case they compare with the death of George Floyd. “The balm for xenophobia is knowledge, but the challenge is to bring people to that table. I’m there.” Also, a judge writes that Sciorra has “preserved a vital record of American anarchist history, giving credit to the working-class reproductions of this period’s emotive sounds and sensations of this historical moment.” The essay’s “focus on Italian language items provides an explicit example of working-class experience across languages, cultures, and people.”

Tribute to Robert Viscusi Published

Bordighera Press has just published this volume of essays, a Festschrift for beloved colleague and friend of the Calandra Institute Robert Viscusi (1941–2020). In it scholars deal with an array of Bob’s contributions to the worlds of letters and of academia.

This volume is available everywhere now for purchase. You may buy it at IAMBooks or at Barnes & Noble, among other booksellers. You may purchase the book directly from Bordighera Press by writing to info@bordigherapress.org.

New Scholarship Opportunity from Manhattan’s La Scuola d’Italia

La Scuola d’Italia, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has inaugurated new scholarship opportunities for students. Students interested in applying for a scholarship at La Scuola d’Italia “Guglielmo Marconi” can do so by sending a letter of presentation along with their CV focusing on their curricular and extracurricular activities. Knowledge of the Italian language is not required in order to obtain the scholarship.

For more information, click here.

Applications should be be emailed to slanfredini@lascuoladitalia.org.

Connecting Despite the Pandemic: Calandra Conversations

With the COVID-19 pandemic, venues that devote resources to public programming, like the Calandra Institute, have had to switch things up a bit. These more casual Zoom conversations offer a new and flexible means by which we have been able to continue with some of our scheduled events that could not take place in person as well as add other fun and informative online events. Click here to see all the conversations to date, and check back often, because we are only doing more.

Robert Viscusi 1941–2020

January 19, 2021, marks one year since the passing of our dear friend Robert Viscusi. As I wrote last year, for those of us who knew Bob well, we knew a kind man, someone who was always respectfully inquisitive and concerned about his friends and, at the same time, always a cheerleader in championing them and their accomplishments. He was, as well, a great advocate for the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute; he made it known to many, and we will always remain grateful. Bob exhibited erudition, largesse, and beneficence in ways that very few do.

As we announced on Twitter, we will commemorate Bob’s life and work with a special collection of essays written in his honor by some of his dearest friends. Indeed, Bob’s scholarly and creative works will live on precisely because they are so outstanding and hence greatly beneficial to all. They will serve yet future generations of scholars as they engage in their own professional development of cultural and literary studies of the Italian diaspora.

In turn, Bob the person—he who could turn a phrase and make you smile, or formulate a theoretical notion and make you go “Hmmm”—is and will remain dearly missed. As I said at the time of his passing last year, fortunately through technology we will have the opportunity to revisit with Bob: We have some recordings of him in the Italics TV archive. I will leave you with two of them here.

Un caloroso saluto a tutti,

Anthony Julian Tamburri
Dean & Distinguished Professor

Bob on Italics:
Lecture: “The Orphanage: Encounters in Transnational Space” (Sept 29, 2017)
L’oro di Napoli (at 1:03:10) Bob reading from his book Ellis Island

Italics: Mark Rotella

Host Anthony Tamburri interviews Mark Rotella, the author of Amore: The Story of Italian American Song and Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria, as Rotella describes how his search for his own Italian American identity led to the writing of both books.

Rotella’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Salon, Washington Post, and the Village Voice, among others.

Message from the Dean on COVID-19 and Civil Unrest

Dear Friends,

We currently inhabit a time in which we struggle on the one hand with nature—that is, the deadly virus that has ravaged many sectors of more than 200 countries around the world—while on the other, we find ourselves caught up in yet another struggle, the systemic racism that has sparked more than a week-long series of protests around the United States, a result of the horrible police killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis.

After close to five months (two and one-half of shutdown for most), COVID-19 remains the mysterious, debilitating, and fatal disease we have witnessed and experienced since this past February. And while genetic evidence has pinpointed the origins of the virus, we still remain, nevertheless, victims of such natural indifference.

In turn, the protests that we have witnessed in many cities across the country prove to be a result of yet another indifference. COVID-19 possesses a disinterest in the human condition; as a force of nature it was born outside the human. The forces instead that killed George Floyd are multilayered and have their roots within the human, dating back 401 years to 1619 with the introduction of African slavery to what would become the United States; they are truly, and cognitively, indifferent, lacking any and all regard for the lives of African Americans and other people of color.

As Italian Americans, and especially as scholars and teachers, who are not only cognizant of our history but who purport to study and promote it, we cannot but stand with black and brown people who have suffered and continue to suffer the indignities as well as the life-threatening violence that emanate from such disregard and callousness. Not to do so is to deny our own history and the indignities that many of our ancestors endured. The difference is that our ancestors were always free and white. Further still, they lived to tell about it.

Empathy is the first step toward fighting for justice for all.

Un caloroso saluto a tutte/i,

AJT Signature
Anthony Julian Tamburri
Dean and Distinguished Professor