In commemoration of Dante Alighieri’s life and work, many projects were realized on the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death. One of them, which took place at the end of 2021, was a series of conversations, sponsored in part by the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee Inc., including this one with Alessandro Barbero, a professor of history at University of Eastern Piedmont and a famous figure from Italy’s numerous history programs on television. Barbero enjoys an unusual amount of fame in Italy, where it is fair to say that he is almost universally beloved on account of his uncanny ability to explain history in accessible language, as well as his general affability, which is on clear display in this video conversation with Calandra’s dean Anthony Julian Tamburri. Barbero is fluent in many languages, including English, the language of this conversation.
Alyssa J. Maldonado-Estrada, of Kalamazoo College, presented her book Lifeblood of the Parish (NYU Press, 2020) on June 6 as part of the Philip V. Cannistraro Seminar Series in Italian American Studies, bringing to a close the Spring regularly scheduled events at the Calandra Institute. Please check our Calendar as we begin to update it with Fall events.
More about Lifeblood of the Parish:
Every Saturday, a group of men can be found in the basement of the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, busily measuring, hammering, and painting. Each year the parish hosts the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and San Paolino di Nola. Its crowning event is the Dance of the Giglio, where men lift and carry a seventy-foot-tall, four-ton tower through the streets, bearing its weight on their shoulders. Drawing on six years of research, Alyssa Maldonado-Estrada tells the story of how this Italian American tower comes into being. Lifeblood of the Parish (NYU Press, 2020) evocatively presents Catholicism in Brooklyn, where religion is raucous and playful. It offers a new lens through which to understand men’s religious practice, showing how men and boys become socialized into their tradition and express devotion through unexpected acts like woodworking, fundraising, and sporting tattoos.
This year, 2022, on May 23, the New York State Conference of Italian American Legislators resumed its annual gathering in Albany and in Troy, New York, to distribute scholarship monies and to recognize notable Italian American citizens and celebrate at a festa in the evening. The Calandra Institute always receives a gracious invitation to attend, and the day’s events are covered by Calandra’s TV show, Italics. Stay tuned for this episode, which will air later in June. In it you will see, among other things, Dean Tamburri interview Senator Diane Savino.
Novelist Christopher Sorrentino did a book reading on May 10 from his new memoir Now Beacon, Now Sea: A Son’s Memoir. With him were Vanessa Pérez-Rosario and Joseph Salvatore to discuss the book. Co-sponsored with Centro, The Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, the event was live-streamed to dozens of viewers and also videotaped.
In the book, Sorrentino excavates his own memories and family folklore in an effort to peel back the ways in which his mother Victoria seemed trapped between conflicting identities: the Puerto Rican girl identified on her birth certificate as Black, and the white woman she had decided to become.
The Tutto Italiano! radio show interviewed Dean Tamburri Sunday, May 15, 2022. Here is the episode description:
“Join us with guest Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute (Queens College, CUNY) and Distinguished Professor of European Languages and Literatures. His research interests lie in literature, cinema, semiotics, interpretation theory, and cultural studies. Dr. Tamburri has divided his intellectual work evenly between Italian and Italian/American studies, authoring sixteen books and more than one hundred essays on both subject areas in English and Italian.”
And you can listen to the complete episode here: https://radiokingston.org/en/broadcast/tutto-italiano/episodes/anthony-julian-tamburri-dean-of-the-john-d-calandra-italian-american-institute
Martin Scorsese believes strongly in the need to conserve sheet music from the golden age of Italian song. Scorsese spoke via Zoom at the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) when Calandra’s Dr. Joseph Sciorra gave a short presentation there on the topic.
Click here to watch the video of his full remarks.
In April writer Claudia Durastanti came to the Calandra Institute to give a reading from her acclaimed book Strangers I Know as part of our regular Writers Read series, which has begun again in person for the first time since 2020. Joseph Salvatore interviewed her about the work and her life. Our cable TV show Italics crew were there to tape the event, and now you can watch the entire event here.
The conference was a resounding success. Click here for the complete conference program. Check back soon for videos of the conference proceedings.
On Saturday, April 23, Dr. Sciorra made a presentation at the IAMLA in connection with the museum’s show “Woven Lives: Exploring Women’s Needlework from the Italian Diaspora.” The talk incorporated some material from his 2014 book (with co-editor Edvige Giunta, published by University Press of Mississippi) Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women’s Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora. To watch an earlier presentation (from the Institute’s cable TV show Italics) on this topic by Dr. Sciorra, click here.
Anthony Tamburri, the dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, CUNY, was interviewed recently by Nicola Corradi for the Italian-language newspaper La Voce di New York. Click here to read the article (in Italian).