News

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.

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

Our dear friend Robert Viscusi passed away on January 19, 2020. On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, we came together, a dozen of us in person and more than sixty via zoom, to celebrate his life. Contributors to the volume This Hope Sustains the Scholar: Essays in Tribute to the Work of Robert Viscusi (2021, Bordighera Press) remembered Bob as a poet, as a teacher, and as a beloved colleague.

Watch this space; we will soon publish the video of the event.

Un caloroso saluto a tutti,

Anthony Julian Tamburri
Dean & Distinguished Professor

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

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.