This summer the Italian Studies program at Chapman University launched its first travel class in Italy. A group of nine students from majors such as Communications, Italian, Creative Writing, Vocal Performance, and more spent three weeks living with families in Taormina, taking an intensive language course, and exploring the natural, historic and cultural landscape of the Eastern side of the island.
The course was designed in collaboration with Babilonia Center for Italian Studies, one of the most vibrant and forward looking educational and cultural programs active today in Sicily and whose mission is to promote the study of the Italian language and culture and Sicilian cultural heritage in particular. This year the course aimed at providing an overall introduction to Sicily, and the coast of Etna in particular, and to understand the genesis of myth and culture rooted in the experience of natural phenomena, as well as the critical chapters of the island’s historical development.
The ambitious curriculum includedexcursions to the Alcantara River Gorge, carved out of stratified lava along the fault line between the African and Eurasian plates; the fishing village of Acitrezza where long ago the magma columns emerging from the sea inspired ancient myths and stories tied to Odysseus and the Cyclops; and Mt. Etna itself, which dominates the landscape with its regal presence. We also visited the Greek and Roman archeological sites in ancient Syracuse, once the most powerful city in the Mediterranean and the rival of Athens; and the Roman villa of Casale in the agricultural heart of the island, famous for its extensive and eloquent mosaics. While in Taormina, students met with specialists of contemporary Sicily to discuss issues such as entrepreneurship and tradition, organized crime, immigration and emigration as well as explored the popular arts, religion, cuisine, and architecture of this remarkable town.
In addition to advancing linguistic skills and cultural knowledge, students returned to the States with an increased awareness of the island’s treasures and beauty as well as its enormous social and economic challenges. Chapman Italian Studies remains committed to sustaining today’s businesses and initiatives in Sicily that deserve and need to be supported and to designing ways in which faculty and students can endeavor to become a force for positive change in Italy through academic programs and community-service projects abroad.
In the advanced course “The forms of Italian Theater: History and Practice,” students engage in a study of various forms of Italian theater from the Renaissance till the Twentieth century, including Commedia dell’Arte, and the work of playwrights such as: Niccolò Machiavelli, Carlo Goldoni, Carlo Gozzi, Giovanni Verga, Luigi Pirandello, Eduardo De Filippo, and Dario Fo. The literary, cultural, and historical discussion is integrated with the development of communicative proficiency, through various exercises and creative activities. For example, during the last five weeks of the semester, students write and perform their own short plays inspired by the style and themes of their favorite Italian authors.
In the Italian/Honors course “The Puppet Metaphor Across Media,” students explore the theoretical and historical significance of the myth of the puppet by examining its cultural history and its life across media boundaries. After examining traditional and modern forms of puppetry in Italy and beyond, and its interpretations in literature, film, and animation, students focus on individual projects. This spring, for example, students examined historical topics such as the use of the puppet metaphor by politically engaged Syrian theater troupes today, theoretical questions like the relationship between subject and object in film mise-en-scene, or engaging on a creative level as when designing an original dance adaptation of Pinocchio.
Melissa Marino and Marco Saglimbeni are the first students completing a B.A. in Italian Studies in the history of Chapman University. They inaugurate a new and growing path of study at the university. Their professors thank them for their sincere devotion to the study of Italian language and culture and for their hard work during the past four years.
Melissa is graduating with a B.F.A in Theater Performance and a B.A. in Italian Language and Culture, and plans to act onstage, operate her own theatre company, and pursue graduate work in Performing Arts Management in Milan, Italy.
Marco is graduating with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, a B.A. in Italian Language and Culture, and a minor from the University Honors Program. He plans to work for a BioTech/Research company (hopefully an Italian one) or become a Sports Medicine Doctor.
Marco e Melissa, vi auguriamo tanto successo e felicità!
The Department of World Languages and Cultures at Chapman University selected Marco Saglimbeni as Outstanding Italian Major. “Marco Saglimbeni is graduating with a double major: a B.S. Biological Sciences and a B.A. in Italian Language & Culture, as well as with a minor from the University Honors Program. The consistency and quality of Marco’s academic performance in Italian and the advanced fluency that he has achieved make him the ideal recipient for this award. As Marco leaves Chapman to enter a new phase of his education and career, his classmates and his professors will greatly miss the presence of Marco’s inquisitive mind, caring personality, and deep and contagious passion for Italy. His bright mind and strong ethical nature will bring much positive impact to whatever cause and goal he will set his mind to. Un grande bocca al lupo, Marco!”
The Department of World Languages and Cultures at Chapman University awards Cristina McKeever and Sara Delucchi as Outstanding Italian Studies Minors.
“Sara Delucchi is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and a Minor in Italian Studies. Sara brings a rare level of commitment and care to all of her classes and assignments. Her professional dedication and deep human engagement have been inspiring for her professors and classmates alike and have led her to remarkable achievements in Italian. Sara has been an essential part of the Italian Studies community at Chapman since her freshman year, when she entered the Italian Club first as Vice President and then as President. Sara’s generous service –which was also recently recognized by the Renaissance Lodge Order Sons of Italy– has enriched the cultural experience of her peers and helped fostering meaningful relationships among students. After graduation, she will be attending the Master of Occupational Therapy at Dominican University. Auguroni per tutto, Sara!”
“Cristina McKeever is graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and a Minor in Italian Studies. After graduation, she plans to pursue a professional dance career in performance, choreography, and teaching both nationally and internationally; she especially hopes to teach dance and/or perform in Italy. While succeeding in numerous advanced Italian Studies courses at Chapman, she has also contributed significantly to the community and programming of the Italian Club, and has assisted her peers as a tutor of Italian. Her professors will miss Cristina’s creativity, brightness, diligence, and kindness, but rejoice at the thought that she will bring these qualities to all of her activities in the future. Tante buone cose, Cristina!”
Marco Saglimbeni (B.S. Biological Sciences, B.A. Italian Studies, and University Honors minor) successfully delivered a presentation titled “The Sicilian Pupi: Conveyors of Myth” at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon for the Western Regional Honors Conference on Saturday, April 8. His project explores cultural and neurological underpinnings of the traditional form of Sicilian puppetry known as “l’opera dei pupi”, and how this form of ritualistic and popular theater intersects with crucial characteristics of Sicilian history and society. Marco first started working on his project while taking Dr. Pacchioni’s Honors seminar “The Puppet Metaphor Across Media” in the spring of 2015.
Satan’s Rhapsody (1915) is a Faustian tale about an old woman who makes a pact with Mephisto to regain her youth, in return she must stay away from love. The film, directed by Nino Oxilia and starring Lyda Borelli, is one of the finest achievements of the early Italian cinema. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Guy Borlée, coordinator of Il Cinema Ritrovato, the international film festival of the city of Bologna, Italy. The event will take place on Thursday, March 16 at 7pm in the Cloobeck Screening Room.
On Saturday, February 11th over 200 guests attended the Music and Culture: An Italian Perspective in the Musco Center for the Arts. This celebratory symposium, exploring the complexity of Italy’s cultural and artistic import, brought together faculty, staff and students from Chapman University and other local schools, as well as the broader local community of Southern California.
This event was a unique opportunity to understand and appreciate the cultural significance and influence of Italian music throughout the ages. A group of distinguished scholars of Italian Studies guided the audience through a fascinating journey beginning in the Middle Ages, continuing through the Italian Renaissance and today’s regional cultures. Francesco Ciabattoni, director of Italian Graduate Studies at Georgetown University, revealed the historical, theological and literary underpinnings of the powerful soundscape of Hell, Purgatory and Paradiso, following Dante Alighieri’s scale all the way up to the music of the spheres. Giulio Ongaro, Dean of Chapman’s College of Performing Art, described the evolution of the relationship between poetry and music inventiveness in the secular music of Renaissance Italy. Alessandro Carrera, director of Italian Studies at the University of Houston, demonstrated how Italy’s folk music represents the grass root experience of historical as well as how it charges geographically and is constantly reinvents itself. The symposium included representative music examples from different periods and parts of the Itlian peninsula as well as featured Michela Musolino’s unique and moving performance of the Sicilian worldview as expressed by authentic folk songs from the island.
Special thanks go out to Paul and Marybelle Musco, President Daniele Struppa, our guest speakers, the members of the Italian Studies Council, Musco Center’s director Richard Bryant and his team, the staff of the IdeationLab, and Italian Studies faculty and students for making this event possible.
Fondazione Italia has now opened its Orange County Italian Language Center offering courses for children and adults on the Chapman University campus. The Italian Studies program is delighted to support the teaching of Italian to the larger Orange community and is excited about the possibilities inherent in this new partnership.
Fondazione Italia is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 for the purpose of promoting the teaching of the Italian language and culture across Southern California. The organization receives grants from the government of Italy in support of its mission, and it works in close collaboration with the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles and the Education Office at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco. For a list of Fondazione Italia’s courses available on the Chapman campus click here.
Estrellita Uribe (Strategic and Corporate Communication/Italian Studies 2017) has just started an internship with Pacific Symphony. Below she describes her new role and how the study of Italian language and culture is helping her to advance professionally.
“I am the public relations intern at Pacific Symphony, an american orchestra directed by Carl St. Clair. I mainly research and write creative social media content and conduct interviews and write stories for program books and the website. On any day I might also organize photo resources and the media database, prepare media kits, assist media at concerts and special events, and assist the Symphony’s overall marketing and PR campaigns. Not only did knowing Italian help with my interview, where I had the chance to discuss a lot of the literary work I have been reading in class (and the fact that speaking another language is a huge plus), but a lot of my knowledge of the artists or the pieces come from my Italian Studies minor. I recently worked on social media content for multiple platforms about an opera by Giuseppe Verdi, an Italian composer. There is also a concert by the symphony on Ellis Island, a major immigration theme for one of my papers for a course in the minor.”
Estrellita Uribe is a senior majoring in Strategic and Corporate Communication and minoring in Italian Studies. During her time at Chapman, she has been involved with Greek life (she was the director of community service for Alpha Phi) and served as president for ISA (International Student Association). She also works at the office of admission giving tours of our beautiful campus. She has a huge passion for languages, Italian is her third language and she is excited to keep learning about Italy and its culture.
The many pathways of Italy’s music, art and culture come together in a single event! Appreciate the harmony that inspired Dante’s immortal masterpieces, and explore the diverse voices of Italian music, from the Renaissance to the age-old melodies of folk songs. Featuring Giulio Ongaro, Ph.D., dean of Chapman’s College of Performing Arts; Francesco Ciabattoni, Ph.D., director of Italian Graduate Studies, Georgetown University; Alessandro Carrera, Ph.D., director of Italian Studies, University of Houston; and Michela Musolino, Sicilian-American folk singer.
The fall semester has come to a close. We are grateful to the students for all of the energy that they have put into their classes. In the upper-level class “Short Narrative in Italian Culture: Oral Tradition, Literature and Cinema” students explored the role of storytelling in Italian culture and learned to use the language to analyze a variety of texts. In the photo below students are sharing and discussing versions of stories that they have composed in Italian inspired by famous ancient and modern novellas by writers such as Giovanni Boccaccio, Giambattista Basile, Luigi Pirandello, and Italo Calvino.
In another class, students of Italian and graduate and undergraduate students from Film Studies came together to collaboratively tackle the fascinating connection between popular Hollywood film genres and Italian-American stereotypes such as the Latin lover, the prizefighter, and the gangster, and explore new perspectives and creative possibilities. Below is an example of one of the video essays produced by students of “Italian American Cinema”.
(“Sculpting the Gangster” by Nour Oubeid, Film Production B.F.A and Italian Studies minor).