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

Joseph Tusiani: January 14, 1924—April 11, 2020

With the passing of Joseph Tusiani, we have lost a treasure of a man, a wonderful human being, and a great cultured individual.

Joseph came to the United States in 1947 on what was to be a temporary visit. Instead, he remained and became, over the more than seven decades he spent in New York, a noted polymath. Poet first and foremost, prose writer, essayist, translator, Joseph was the true scholar/intellectual.

The winner of the prestigious Greenwood Prize of the Poetry Society of England in 1956, he was the first “American” to be given the award. He was vice president of the Poetry Society of America and director of the Catholic Poetry Society of America. Joseph was also professor of Italian for many years at Lehman College of The City University of New York.

Through his work as translator, he introduced many Italian writers to the English-speaking world: Machiavelli, Tasso, Pulci, Boccaccio, Pascoli, and Leopardi are just some of those whose work he translated over the years. It was, in turn, his translations of Michelangelo’s poetry that earned him a visit to President Kennedy’s White House! That collection will be reissued in the University of Toronto Press’s Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library Series.

Joseph’s reach was extensive and impactful. In addition to his loving family (Michael, Bea, and their children), Joseph leaves behind a plethora of friends and former students whose lives were influenced to various degrees by his mentoring, friendship, and kindness. I feel privileged to have been among those to whom he opened his home, and along with the many things I shall remember and miss, there is also the Centerba we would share during our conversations.

Once we are free of this terrible pandemic, we shall commemorate Joseph in the manner in which he so deserves.

An Exciting Autumn at the Calandra Institute

As people turn their thoughts to the new academic year ahead of us, I want to share with you some highlights of what will be happening at the Calandra Institute this autumn so you can understand why we’re so excited about it.

Our events started off with a bang on September 11 with our Writers Read series, when we hosted former white nationalist Christian Picciolini reading from his memoir about working with and then leaving that movement. With the month of October comes Italian Heritage and Culture Month as well as the continuation of all our series, Writers Read, the Cannistraro Lectures, and Documented Italians film screenings. And in November, among our other regular offerings, we will proudly host the second installment of the three-part multinational Diaspore Italiane/Italy in Movement symposium, which situates Calandra, together with our European and Australian partners, at the absolute cutting edge in research work on Italian diaspora scholarship.

Take a look at our calendar for more information about all our events, and be sure you are included on our mailing list to receive notice of what’s going on at the Institute. And check back frequently to the site for updates on last-minute events added to our terrific schedule for academic year 2018-2019.

Greetings and Fall Preview

As the summer begins to wind to a close, and people turn their thoughts to the new academic year ahead of us, I want to share with you some highlights of what will be happening at the Calandra Institute this autumn so you can understand why we’re so excited about it.

The fall events get off to a great start with a reading from former white nationalist Christian Picciolini from his book White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement—and How I Got Out, (Hachette Books, 2017). Read more about the event here.

With October comes Italian Heritage and Culture Month as well as the continuation of all our series, Writers Read, the Cannistraro Lectures, and Documented Italians film screenings. And in November, among our other regular offerings, we will proudly host the second installment of the three-part multinational Diaspore Italiane/Italy in Movement symposium, which situates Calandra, together with our European and Australian partners, at the absolute cutting edge in research work on Italian diaspora scholarship.

We have also made changes to our TV programming. In addition to Italics, which is cablecast on Ch. 75 (Spectrum and Cablevision/Optimum Brooklyn), Ch. 77 (RCN) and Ch. 30 (Verizon), we also initiated a web platform program titled Calandra TV, for those topics that may require more timely attention.

So, please take a look at our calendar for more information about all our events, and be sure you are included on our mailing list to receive notice of what’s going on at the Institute. And do check back frequently to the site for updates on last-minute events added to our terrific schedule for academic year 2018–2019.

Italian Diaspora Studies Summer Seminar

Friday, June 29, together with the Dipartimento di Lingue, Letterature e Culture Straniere of Roma Tre University, the Calandra Institute concluded the fourth edition of the Italian Diaspora Studies Summer Seminar. At the close of the Seminar, the article at left appeared in the Corriere della Sera. (Click on the image to enlarge the article.)

The Italian Diaspora Studies Summer Seminar™ is a three-week summer program that takes place at Roma Tre University. It is designed to introduce participants (doctoral students and professors) to cultural studies of the Italian Diaspora from a variety of academic perspectives and to foster development of individual projects responding to the materials covered in the series of seminars in literature, film, and the social sciences. All participants will engage in a special research project.

For more information about the program schedule and faculty, contact Dean Anthony Julian Tamburri at 212.642.2094 or via email at anthony.tamburri@qc.cuny.edu.

 

Italian Americans and Immigrants

Italiani d’America, before you jump on the anti-immigration band wagon here in the United States, just keep in mind not only what our grandparents and great-grandparents had to endure, but check out what is going on today with Italians having to leave Italy in order to find a job and have a decent wage. No one in this video is sitting on “their ass,” to quote a prominent U.S. official… A little sympathy and good karma go a long way! Alla ricossa, ragazzi!

Oh, yeah, it is not a “spostamento,” as one former Italian official would have it; it is a “fuga,” and then some!