A Spring about Present and Past Italian Creativity: Literature, Cinema, and Food

This Spring, Italian Studies students have participated in various courses ranging from Renaissance culture to contemporary film. Students in the honors program and advanced Italian Studies had the opportunity to attend the interdisciplinary course “Power and Imagination in the Italian Renaissance, ” analyzing literary, philosophic, and scientific texts foundational to humanistic legacy, and exploring themes such as caution, resoluteness, heroism, conformity, orthodoxy, and innovation.

“This class brings about a whole new understanding of the Italian Renaissance. It illuminates the powerful interconnectedness of art, literature, science, architecture, economics, politics, and more. The interconnectedness between these elements of society and culture reveals a new understanding of the Italian Renaissance and our own society and culture today. Perhaps most importantly, this class reveals patterns in the human experience throughout the course of history that we can connect to now with our own experiences as people. It is a connection that enriches the mind, body, and soul.”
Lauren Moyle, Chapman Italian Studies Minor.

In addition, students have explored Italian Cinema and its relation to politics, art, and industry. This course surveyed Italian cinema history, examining its evolution from the silent period to today, and its relationship to other national cinemas and Hollywood. Students analyzed aesthetic and ethical legacies connecting classical and recent films and learned about the stylistic and cultural underpinning of neorealist cinema, various genres, and poetic cinema. 

The course “History and Culture of Food in Italy” comprehensively explored the rich history of Italian food cultures from multiple perspectives. Students delved into the histories of certain Italian staple foods, regional gastronomical traditions, and socio-political movements that have shaped the country’s culinary landscape. In addition, the course covered contemporary sustainability issues and analyzed food’s role in Italian art, advertisement, and literature. 

“The Italian Food course expanded my understanding of topics I rarely thought about or considered in Italian culture. For example, the history of coffee in Italy is so much more complex than I could have imagined, with various experiments by numerous inventors leading to the making of the perfect espresso machine or the ingenious creation of the Moka Bialetti for people at home to make their favorite coffee. Topics like this are what drew me to the class in the first place, and I think anyone interested in food culture or Italian culture should definitely consider it.”
– James Cigliano, Chapman Italian Studies Minor

Looking forward to the Summer, students are excited for the journey ahead.
There’s no better way to learn a language than by immersing yourself in the language and culture. Students of all levels will be participating in three different programs across Italy. Stay tuned for more!

Posted in Faculty Success, Italy Today, Students Success | Leave a comment

Italian Studies Minor Receives Kugelman Arts and Humanities Award

Dulcie and Lawrence Kugelman have been underwriting the Annual Kugelman Arts and Humanities Awards Ceremony for over a decade in the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The Kugelman Awards celebrate and acknowledge the top academic students within the departments of Art, English, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and World Languages and Cultures. This year, Bella Ocaña, graduating this spring with a major in Art History and a double minor in Advertising and Italian Studies, is one of the recipients of this prestigious award.

Recalling Bella Ocaña’s success in the Italian program, Professor Pacchioni and Professor Mattavelli stated: “She successfully completed advanced coursework in Italian language, including translation methods and business language, and deepened aspects of the culture through seminars on Etruscan and Roman Art and Italian cinema. Bella successfully participated in an intensive language immersion travel course in the southern Italian region of Puglia where she lived with a local family, advanced linguistically, and was introduced to the region’s identity. In addition, Bella was instrumental to the life of the Italian Studies student community by leading the student club for two years. We are proud of her academic success, the level of knowledge and skills she has achieved, and her commitment to the Italian community on campus and beyond. Congratulazioni e auguri, Bella!”

Bella conveys her experience in the program as follows. “To receive this award is an incredible honor. I started taking Italian courses in my Sophomore year hoping to enrich my Art History degree and learn a fun and new language. Little did I know that I would meet some of my best friends at Chapman, get close to the Italian faculty, and actually get to study abroad in Italy for a summer. My learning went beyond simply learning a language but enriched me with a beautiful culture filled with incredible people, food, and history. Over the years professors such as Dr. Paduano, Dr. Pacchioni, and more recently, Dr. Mattavelli have guided me through this process and have truly made me feel at home. I cannot count how many times we’ve all shared laughs in class or how much they have supported me through difficult times – to say I am grateful for the Italian department is an understatement. It is a bittersweet moment to graduate and leave the department, but I know I’ll be keeping in contact with all of them!”

Posted in Students Success | Leave a comment

Razzano Family Legacy Gift Strengthens the Future of Italian Studies at Chapman University

Mr. Razzano is a third-generation Italian American with ancestral roots in Campania, Italy. In 2018, he met Dr. Federico Pacchioni, the founding director of the Ferrucci Institute for Italian Experience and Research, while attending the Italian Perspectives series. Impressed by the Italian Studies Program at Chapman, the two men struck up a friendship. After a distinguished career in business, Mr. Razzano retired in 2021 and became more fully engaged in the Italian Studies program as a patron, volunteer, and student. He currently serves as the Chair of the Leadership Board of the Ferrucci Institute.

Mr. John Razzano’s grandfather, Giuseppe Razzano.

In making this gift, Mr. Razzano shared: “When my grandparents emigrated here early in the last century, they wholly embraced their adopted country but also instilled in the family a love for and appreciation of our Italian heritage. It is an honor to continue and support the work of my grandfather Giuseppe to promote an appreciation and understanding of Italian language, history, and culture to future generations.”

Mr. Razzano has been a resident of Orange County since 1980, where he raised his family with his late wife, Mary. Currently, Mr. Razzano resides in Newport Beach.

Posted in Community, Italy Today | Leave a comment

The Ferrucci Institute for Italian Experience and Research

Chapman University is pleased to announce the creation of the Ferrucci Institute for Italian Experience and Research, thanks to a $1.5 million donation from the Ferrucci family. The gift was announced March 11 during the annual Italian Perspectives event at the Musco Center for the Arts. This is the second major gift announced in as many months.

A Bridge Between Chapman and Italy

The new institute will support the creation of courses that relate to Italy across departments and schools and focus on cross-disciplinary scholarly and creative work.

Maria and Gabriel Ferrucci
Gabriel Ferrucci and his late wife, Maria Ferrucci, emigrated from Italy to the U.S. in the 1950s.

“As an immigrant from Italy, I am proud of the rich Italian culture, and I have always been interested in higher education. I consider my education through college in Italy a very significant asset, which, combined with subsequent college education in the United States, constituted a strong base for my business life,” says Gabriel Ferrucci, who emigrated to the U.S. from Amorosi, Italy, in 1957. Ferrucci’s career in the auto and aerospace industries culminated in the purchase of Los Angeles-based Keystone Engineering, which he sold in 1998 to focus on charitable projects.

“When I learned in recent years that Chapman University offered Italian Studies, I was excited and decided to support the program financially. It is a high honor for me to leave a legacy, which will enable future students to explore the richness of Italian culture,” says Ferrucci.

“This Ferrucci Institute enables us to create a strong connection with another country and to leverage new intellectual and cultural resources to advance knowledge and research,” says Federico Pacchioni, who holds the Sebastian P. (Paul) and Marybelle Musco Chair in Italian Studies at Chapman and is the institute’s founding director. “The institute will become a bridge connecting Chapman University with Italy, different disciplines and generations.”

Trailblazing Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

“The humanities are an anchor on the deeper meaning of things,” says Pacchioni. The institute represents a new approach to Italian Studies in higher education and will show how the humanities can serve as a foundation that benefits all disciplines.

The institute’s inaugural faculty includes professors from fields such as film, literature, music and theatre but also faculty members who study areas such as history, philosophy and food science. Affiliated faculty members will pursue their research and teaching projects, working collaboratively within the institute through a wider cross-disciplinary network.

Projects already in the works include: an examination of the Italian/Jewish experience in World War II by Shira Klein, professor of history in Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the translation of Italian plays by Nicholas Gabriel, assistant professor of theatre in the College of Performing Arts; and a study of the peculiarities of Italian food culture and food production by Anuradha Prakash, professor of food science in Schmid College of Science and Technology.

Chapman University President Daniele C. Struppa and Provost Norma Bouchard also will serve on the institute’s faculty. Struppa’s research will focus on the history of mathematics, while Bouchard is an expert on the Italian American diaspora.

“The institute is a great opportunity for Chapman to lead the way in this new approach to academic inquiry,” says Bouchard. “When we say we are committed to academic excellence, this is what we mean. It’s not just hiring great faculty and putting them in the classroom. We want to give them the resources and opportunities they need to pursue profound ideas and to engage with other scholars in ways that produce exciting new paths of inquiry across fields.”

Why Italy? The country has a rich history of cultural and intellectual discourse. “The Italian ground is so rich, it’s a good place for minds to come together,” says Pacchioni.

Along with supporting interdisciplinary faculty research, the institute is developing multiple travel courses to Italy, offering new opportunities for students to learn and study abroad.

Italian Studies Donations Fund Academic Excellence at Chapman

This is the second major gift announcement since the launch of the public phase of Inspire: The Campaign for Chapman University in February. To date, the campaign has raised $318 million, well over halfway to its goal of $500 million by 2028.

“Gifts like these allow us to be creative in the pursuit of academic excellence,” says Jim Mazzo, who is co-chair of the campaign along with Lisa Argyros. “Faculty and students will have more opportunities than ever to connect what they are learning in the classroom with real-world experiences while cultivating a global awareness that will help them become leaders in their fields.”

This is not the first major gift Chapman has received to support Italian Studies. Donations from the late S. Paul Musco, emeritus trustee, established both the Musco Endowed Chair in Italian Studies and the Musco Endowment for Travel Courses in Italian Studies. The annual Italian Perspectives event is the result of the ongoing collaboration between the Muscos and the program.

“What the Muscos have started, the Ferruccis are continuing,” said Pacchioni. “The Musco Chair in Italian Studies has allowed the program to grow and expand its footprint on campus and in the community. The Ferrucci family is now taking Italian Studies to the next level, and in a way that strongly aligns with the university’s mission and strategic plan.”



Posted in Community, Events, Faculty Success, Italy Today | Leave a comment

Successful Italian Studies Alum Visits Chapman

It was a joy hosting Italian Studies/Theater alumna Melissa Marino this week and having her give career advice to our current students! Melissa is one of our successful alum, she lives and works in Italy in her sector of choice, theater.

Melissa is an Italian-American theatre organizer and creative. Born and raised in California, she received her B.F.A. in Theatre Performance and B.A. in Italian Language and Culture from Chapman University in 2017. She then earned her Masters in Performing Arts Management from Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. In the past, she’s worked with Teatro alla Scala and Milano Off Fringe Festival, and she currently works with Piccolo Teatro di Milano. While at Chapman, Melissa studied abroad in Italy, was Vice President of the Italian Club, and was selected to be a National Collegiate Representative for the National Italian American Foundation.


Posted in Community, Events, Italy Today, Students Success | Leave a comment

Dr. Pacchioni’s Work Illuminates and Promotes the Universal Language of Italian Puppets

Palgrave Macmillan recently published an English translation of Dr. Pacchioni’s study The Image of the Puppet in Italian Theater, Literature, and Film. During the past two weeks, Dr. Pacchioni was invited to speak about the popular Italian puppet theater and its artistic and cultural influence in scholarly and cultural venues.

Dr. Pacchioni spoke about puppetry’s significance in the search for an Italian global identity at the virtual international panel Italy by Design, organized by the University of Edinburgh, Scottland, which gathered leading Italian Studies scholars worldwide. He also spoke about the transmedial history and potential of Italian puppetry at the annual conference of the California Interdisciplinary Consortium of Italian Studies hosted by the Graziadio Center for Italian Studies at California State University-Long Beach. Finally, Dr. Pacchioni spoke about the broader puppetry tradition underpinning the figure of Pinocchio at the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, which currently hosts the exhibit A Real Boy: The Many Lives of Pinocchio.

Posted in Community, Events, Faculty Success | Leave a comment

Join us for the 7th Annual Italian Perspective!

Join us for Theater and Culture: An Italian Perspective in the Musco Center for the Arts of Chapman University, Orange, California, on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 10am.

This year’s edition is a unique opportunity to learn about the influence of Italian theatrical culture across various periods, styles, and genres. The program will include talks and live performances to provide intellectual insight and aesthetic experiences – a fascinating journey stimulating the mind and the heart. Presentations will reveal the interlaced historical genesis and significance of iconic Italian theatrical traditions.

The event will feature a message from The Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles, Raffaella Valentini; a talk by leading Italianist Daniela Bini on the woman in Italian opera; a modern reinterpretation of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author written and directed by Professor Nick Gabriel, performed by Chapman’s Department of Theater; a taste of Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo’s unique grammelot style performed by award-winning actor Matthias Martelli.

This celebration of Italian theater and culture, exploring the vitality, beauty, and complexity of Italy’s cultural and artistic identity, will be the seventh edition of the Italian Perspective series, following Business and Culture (2016), Music and Culture (2017), Cinema and Culture (2018), Science and Culture (2019), Food and Culture (2021), and Design and Culture (2022).

For details and tickets, visit the event’s page.

Posted in Community, Events, Italy Today | Leave a comment

The Idea of Beauty across Art, Business, and Science: A New Interdisciplinary Travel Course in Florence

Florence, the birthplace of the European Renaissance, continues to represent Western ideals of civilization and artistry across the globe. The period that marked the beginning of modernity–a monumental shift in ways of thinking and managing politics, economics, and the arts–is inscribed in the very stones of the City of the Lily and continues to inspire new creations and ideas. It’s the quintessential site for examining how beauty impacts political, cultural, and economic processes.

This January, a group of Chapman students across different university departments designed and carried out individualized research projects while visiting Florence’s major museums and signature establishments of the city’s creative industries. The travel course is the fruit of a partnership between Chapman University and the International Studies Institute of Florence. Students availed themselves of the mentorship of Dr. Federico Pacchioni before, during, and after the stay, interviewed experts in various sectors of the arts and business, and collaborated with Italian peers from the University of Florence.

Below, students reflect on their experience:

“My travel course experience in Florence brought experiential learning to a new level through engaging group adventures and the remarkable knowledge of our faculty. The time I’ve spent here has reignited my passion for exploration and learning and has motivated me to continue my academic pursuits through travel in the future” – Mac Francini

“On this trip, I had the opportunity to tap into the artistic ecosystem of Florence and use the complexities of such a historic city to draw ideas for my own work. From the workshops and museums, I learned how to listen for inspiration.” – Ashleigh Cohan

“I feel so grateful to be able to engage with Florence to such an immersive degree. This class has been such a unique experience that I feel has expanded my perspective in a way that I could not have gotten traveling on my own!” – Marissa Thompson

“Being one of the most influential experiences of my Chapman journey, I have learned so much about myself and the world beyond our own. It has been an incredible opportunity with personalized education like no other, thanks to Dr. Pacchioni.” – Emalia Katelanis

Posted in Faculty Success, Italy Today, Students Success | Leave a comment

An Evening with Dacia Maraini: Italian students meet Chapman’s latest honorary degree recipient

This fall, Chapman University awarded an Honorary Degree to Dacia Maraini, one of the most important and prolific writers in contemporary Italy. During her visit to campus, Italian Studies students had the privilege of meeting Maraini and hearing her read from her most recent book, Caro Pier Paolo (Neri Pozza Editore, 2022), which contains letters to Pier Paolo Pasolini, a renowned intellectual, novelist, poet, and filmmaker who was murdered in 1975. The intimate and thought-provoking evening was moderated by Professor Sara Mattavelli.

Dacia Maraini wrote numerous novels, short stories, and poems, and she also completed significant work in theatre and cinema. Much of her writing focuses on women’s struggles and rights, and she was very involved in Italian Feminism in the 60s and 70s. She traveled extensively and had incredible life experiences with some of the most important and well-known figures in Italian culture. Dacia Maraini has received numerous awards for her work, including the Formentor Prize for L’età del malessere (1963), the Premio Fregene for Isolina (1985), the Premio Campiello, and the Book of the Year Award for La lunga vita di Marianna Ucria (1990), and many more.

Dacia Maraini’s Honorary Degree Ceremony (from left: Consul General of Italy Silvia Chiave, Provost Norma Bouchard, Dacia Maraini, Dr. Mark Axelrod, Dr. Federico Pacchioni).

Dacia Maraini and Dr. Mattavelli in conversation

Posted in Events, Faculty Success, Italy Today | Leave a comment

Dr. Sara Mattavelli, a Gifted Educator, Joins Chapman Italian Studies

Chapman University’s Italian Studies Program is pleased to announce that Dr. Sara Mattavelli will join the faculty as instructional assistant professor of Italian starting this fall. With her expertise in language acquisition and pedagogy and her extensive and award-winning teaching experience, professor Mattavelli will support and innovate the Italian Studies curriculum and program in the coming years. Thanks to her unique approach, which integrates multi-literacy and critical thinking with language acquisition, professor Mattavelli brings creative and intellectual depth to the teaching of foreign languages, particularly Italian. Chapman Italian Studies faculty and students are eager to collaborate with professor Mattavelli and to be inspired by her educational vision.

Below is a letter from Dr. Mattavelli to the program’s community.

“I’m very excited to be joining the vibrant Italian Program at Chapman University this Fall, and I look forward to meeting students and colleagues very soon! I have been living on the East Coast for the past six years, but I am no stranger to Southern California. Fifteen years ago, after graduating with a laurea magistrale in Language Sciences and Foreign Literature from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan (Italy), I landed at LAX to start my avventura americana. I worked as an instructor and language resident at Scripps College for one year, and then I went on to pursue graduate studies.

I received my Master’s in Italian from the University of Virginia and my Ph.D. in Italian Studies with a Minor in Second Language Acquisition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research interests include second language acquisition, literacy-based approaches to L2 instruction, as well as contemporary Italian literature. For my dissertation, I focused on Italian feminism and the works of four Italian women writers: Dacia Maraini, Franca Rame, Elena Ferrante, and Alina Marazzi. In the classroom, I encourage students to explore contemporary issues such as immigration to and from Italy, citizenship law, gender roles, and gendered language. To support students’ learning, I use various authentic resources, from rap music to newspaper articles, from videos to short stories.

Outside of work, I enjoy photography, binge-watching reality competition shows, trying new restaurants and cafés, and spending time with my cute puppy, Petrillo.

I look forward to start working with colleagues and students (and the Italian club!) and creating exciting opportunities to learn more about Italian language and cultures in and around campus. Ci vediamo presto!

Professoressa Mattavelli”

* You can send your personal welcome message to Sara at: mattavelli@chapman.edu

Posted in Community, Faculty Success | Leave a comment

Journey to Salento: Immersion in Lecce

This summer, the Italian Studies Program of Chapman University was able to resume its signature language immersion travel course. The course offers students the unique opportunity to connect deeply with a specific area of Italy, one defined by unique geographic and historical features, while developing their language skills and cultural knowledge. This summer, the course explored Salento, the southern part of Puglia, with the elegant city of Lecce as its base. Once again, the Marybelle and Paul Musco Endowment for Travel Courses provided significant financial support for the course and allowed all deserving students to participate.

Several local experts in fields ranging from artisanal skills, cuisine, art history, and tourism contributed to the rich schedule of lessons, including tours of major cities and historical sites, craft workshops, and naturalistic excursions. The program was designed in partnership with the University Language Center of Libera Università Mediterranea, which also provided linguistic training tailored to the student’s levels. Modeled on an experiential education approach, the course also included homestays with local families and personalized projects building on the student’s individual journeys.

The innovative model of this travel course continues to prove effective in enabling students to develop a complete and enduring relationship with Italy and to understand the degree of cultural and natural diversity present in the Italian peninsula; this knowledge and direct relationship hold the potential for the integration of new resources into the students’ professional plans and personal lives.

Below, students reflect on their experience:

“Participating in the Summer Travel Course to Lecce allowed me to put my Italian Studies education at Chapman into practice by fully immersing myself in the language and the culture for three weeks. I found a home in Salento and cannot wait to go back; the three weeks flew by in an instant, and yet every moment was full of learning and discovery. I returned from the journey much more confident in my abilities and with memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.” –– Ayuj Consul

“Lecce was an incredible experience; not only did I gain the confidence to use my Italian and improve my language skills, but I got to make lifelong friendships, see incredible sites, and experience the culture of southern Italy. Living in a host family was my highlight – even though I have no Italian genetics, after Lecce, I can definitively say I have an Italian family.” –– Isabella Ocaña

“I absolutely loved my time in Lecce this summer, being Italian it allowed me to further connect with my roots. It also provided me with the unique opportunity to improve my Italian and gave me a better understanding of the authentic Italian lifestyle.” –– Arianna Modesti

“It was a truly eye-opening experience that helped me develop a deep appreciation for Italian culture and the history behind it.” –– Dominic Cote

Posted in Community, Italy Today, Students Success | Leave a comment

Film history comes alive in Bologna: a new collaboration between Italian Studies and the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

The Italian Studies program (Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) and the Film and Media Studies program (Dodge College of Film and Media Arts) joined efforts to develop a unique educational experience in Bologna, Italy, a travel course that will become a staple of both programs and Chapman University in the future.

Under the guidance of Dr. Emily Carman and Dr. Federico Pacchioni, a group of undergraduate and graduate students collaborated this summer with the myriad of archival and unique screenings and symposia offered by the Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival and were introduced to Bologna’s cultural history and the local Cineteca research facilities.

The program featured conversations with emblematic actors of the golden age of Italian cinema, such as Stefania Sandrelli; with Italian and American filmmakers such as Gianni Amelio (director of Lamerica), Alice Rorhwacher (Le meraviglie), John Landis (Blues Brothers), Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch); screenings in the Piazza Maggiore accompanied by Bologna’s Orchestra del Teatro; visit of the exhibit Folgorazioni Figurative dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s centennial; and tours of Immagine Ritrovata, the world-renowned film restoration laboratory.

Restoration — as cultural issue and technical practice — is indeed at the heart of this course and is understood within a broader and interdisciplinary discussion about the preservation and evolution of western heritage and canon in today’s globalized community. Drawing from their subjective experiences and the wide-ranging resources of Bologna and its libraries, students developed a portfolio of critical writings probing into the theme of cinematic and cultural heritage.

In the words of some of the students…

“Nowhere else have I felt the amount of love and passion for film as I have here. Hearing industry members speak passionately about the films that were screened at the festival, and getting the chance to speak to some directly has made me even more excited about being a part of the film community, now and going forward.” — Afra Nariman

“As a producing student, I often focused more on the technical and business aspects of film. This course reminded me of the beauty and importance of cinema in documenting and shaping the narrative in both global geopolitical situations and the human experience.” — Nishaad Trivedi

“Getting to come to Italy and be immersed in the culture through the art of cinema has been really inspiring and impactful for my own art. Bologna is truly a wonderful city and I feel so lucky to have been able to see it and embrace all the things it has to offer.”
—Lauren Moyle

“The Il Cinema Ritrovato festival is extremely well-suited for anyone who takes the theater-going experience very seriously and is interested in (world) film history and restoration. This was a phenomenal opportunity to not only engage with the amazing films the festival offers back to back, but also to explore the Italian culture and history that surrounds you and is interwoven with the passions of the festival itself.” — Austin Kang

“Walking through the city of Bologna was like walking through the history of a great civilization; viewing the various films of the Cinema Ritrovato festival was like taking a look into the lives of the people of those times and the culture and stories that formed them.” — Sofie Kassaras

“The most meaningful aspect of this course in Bologna would have to be the opportunity to experience the fusion of Italian culture and cinema simultaneously. Attending Il Cinema Ritrovato has encouraged me to expand my horizons and delve deeper into new genres, eras, and cultural impacts of film movements. The incredible films and extensive historical background of the city have made this course one that I will not forget!” —Mia McGarity

A film screening in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Posted in Faculty Success, Italy Today | Leave a comment

Chapman Italian Studies Supports New Educational Exchange in Italy – The Experience of Nick Gabriel, Professor of Acting

Nicholas Gabriel reflects on the impact of his experience teaching acting at Civica Scuola di Teatro Paolo Grassi in Rome this summer.

“My entire upbringing was informed by the traditions of the Italian American experience: we traveled to New York City for the Feast of San Gennaro, belonged to the local Italian American Community Center, played bocce, ate ‘seven fishes’ on Christmas Eve, and my father tended an extensive tomato garden that my mother turned into elaborate Sunday dinners, prominently featuring ‘red sauce’ that had simmered on the stove for hours. In fact, my sister and I have a running joke that the only meal we remember from our childhood is pasta with red sauce. However, it wasn’t until recently that I began investigating my ancestors’ extraordinary lives. They were poor carpenters, farmers, and merchants. My great grandparents on both sides of the family, whose surnames were Americanized at Ellis Island, emigrated from Calabria in the early nineteen-twenties and eventually made their way upstate. Because of my desire to grow deeper roots, I plan to establish dual American and Italian citizenship ‘jure sanguinis’.

Through the generous support of the Chapman University College of Performing Arts and, in particular, Dean Giulio Ongaro and Associate Dean Louise Thomas, I was able to travel to Italy for the first time in my life. Dr. Federico Pacchioni, Director of Chapman’s Italian Studies Program, connected me to a colleague (and former Chapman University student) currently working at Teatro Piccolo in Milan. She then connected me to her friends at the Civica Scuola di Teatro Paolo Grassi (CTPG). Founded in 1951 by Paolo Grassi and Giorgio Strehler, CTPG is Northern Italy’s academic gateway for serious theatre artists.

The students I worked with at CTPG were extraordinary. They were well-comported and respectful, uniquely physically expressive, and their acting was poignantly vulnerable. Their single most important distinguishing characteristic was their curiosity. They had an appetite for knowledge that was exceptional. They were excited by a new perspective, and especially interested in the mindset of an American professor who teaches in both screen acting and theatre performance programs at an American university outside of Los Angeles. They shared that our time together was valuable to them because I helped clarify some of the principles they’d learned previously and deepen their understanding of others. They also shared that I taught them some Chekhovian principles they had not learned from their tutor. At the end of the week, I did not want to leave. They thanked me profusely and I thanked them profusely and we reluctantly said our goodbyes. At the request of the CTPG’s director, Mr. Maccieri, I plan to teach for another week in June of next year there. My long-term goal is to establish an ongoing arrangement that allows me to return regularly. I gained a fresh, Italian perspective, and an entirely new community of theatre artists that will inspire me for the rest of my life.”

Posted in Community, Faculty Success, Italy Today | Leave a comment

Dr. Pacchioni speaks at the International Conference of the Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies in Rome

Dr. Pacchioni spoke at the International Conference of the Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies in Rome. This year’s conference, titled “Italian Cinema and Media: Past and Present, Continuity and Change, Expectations for the Future” was held in person at The American University of Rome on June 16, 17, and 18. It featured more than 100 scholars from around the world to focus on a broader understanding of Italian cinema and media in international artistic contexts. Drawing from his forthcoming book The Image of the Puppet in Italian Theater, Literature, and Film (Palgrave Mcmillan, 2022), Dr. Pacchioni delivered a presentation on the influence of the Italian popular puppet theater in the cinema of the filmmaker Lina Wertmüller (1928-2021).

Posted in Faculty Success, Italy Today | Leave a comment

Science and Culture Merge Around Food in Italy

Food Science and Italian Studies represented by Anuradha Prakash and Federico Pacchioni, respectively, joined efforts this summer to launch a new Chapman travel course to Italy.

In exploring the food system from farm to fork, students witnessed directly the making of world-renowned products such as Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma, accompanied local fishermen and truffle hunters in their harvest, and surveyed the offerings in local markets and supermarkets.  The cultural underpinnings of Italian food were brought to life with the help of food anthropologists and historians at our host institution, the Umbra Center for Sustainability and Food Studies, based in Perugia, the medieval capital of the Umbrian green heart of Italy.

Students were immersed in a unique culturally layered environment where food plays vital economic and social functions and traditional methods of food processing confront modern realities.  The course led to original self-directed research projects in which scientific investigation was enlivened by historical context and cultural study was grounded in technical knowledge.

In the words of some of the students…

“Thanks to our professors, we explored Italian culture in a much more immersive way than an average trip abroad. Our itinerary was booked with incredible opportunities, but my favorites included watching the beginning stages of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese being made, fishing with local fishermen at Lake Trasimeno, and just the hospitality the different facilities showed us by welcoming our group and serving us delicious local food. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.” – Jen McCoy Sanders

“My time in Perugia helped me understand the cultural importance of foods. Helping encourage traditions and cultural significance through food regulation was a new aspect of food safety for me that is not often discussed in the US” – Grace Marquis

“Attending this travel course has far exceeded my expectation. I have created long-lasting connections with my peers and learned the culture and rich traditions behind the foods in Italy.” – Eric DeGuzman

“I’d recommend this course to anyone interested in food production, sustainability, or business practices abroad” – Taylor Thompson

Posted in Faculty Success, Italy Today, Students Success | Leave a comment