» Windows to Italy

Each academic year, the Ferrucci Institute offers a series of talks featuring scholars from both within and outside of Chapman University who are advancing the field by exploring Italy’s more universal educational and intellectual potentials, both in its peninsular and diasporic contexts. The series takes place in the beautiful Henley Reading Room of the Leatherby Libraries on two Wednesday evenings in fall and two evenings in spring. All students, faculty, and staff working on Italy-related projects are encouraged to attend. The event is open to the public.


Wednesday, September 18, 2024
7–8:30 p.m.

"Italian Modernism: Transforming Ideas (and Ideals) into Art"
Dr. Michael Subialka (University of California, Davis)

Introductory remarks: Dr. Federico Pacchioni (Ferrucci Director), Professor Nick Gabriel (Ferrucci Fellow)

This talk takes its point of departure in two central questions, which are ultimately closely interrelated: first, how did Italian writers and artists respond to the crisis of modernity? And second, in what ways do theoretical and philosophical ideas take shape in works of art (and impact society as a result)? In fact, it is impossible to understand Italian modernism without unearthing the deep underlying ideas that motivate both how it is made and the ways in which Italian artists sought to give concrete form to those ideas, making them real and powerful. With this in mind, I will first set the historical scene to consider how the political, economic, and social events of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries created a sense of crisis and, thus, the conditions for a modernist push to renew Italian life and society through art. Then, I will show how conflicting models of idealist thought inspired and shaped that modernist project of artistic renewal, examining different sources in thinkers, including Hegel and Schopenhauer, as well as contrasting manifestations of the modernist responses to their idealist or post-idealist philosophies. These artistic forms of idealist expression range from the political activism of the Italian Futurists and Gabriele dAnnunzio to the modernist engagement with spiritualism, an active debate involving writers like Luigi Capuana and Luigi Pirandello. Finally, I will consider how these same impulses can be traced in thinking about the emergence of film as a new art form in the first decades of the twentieth century when cinema became a way of envisioning a new meeting place between intangible (philosophical) ideas and concrete reality. Tracing out this trajectory, I aim to show how modernist art not only responds to philosophical questions but also how the artistic pursuit of putting ideas into concrete form actually contributes to the social and political power of those ideas.

Michael Subialka is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian at the University of California, Davis, where he teaches on Italian and European modernism and publishes on related topics with a global, comparative lens. His book, Modernist Idealism: Ambivalent Legacies of German Philosophy in Italian Literature (Toronto, 2021) tackles the intersection of literature and philosophy in the context of modernist creativity; in a similar vein, he has published work on Gabriele dAnnunzio and Luigi Pirandello, including co-authored and edited volumes. He is the Editor of PSA, the journal of the Pirandello Society of America, as well as the Societys Co-President, and he is currently co-directing a collaborative digital translation project to create the first English edition of Pirandellos Stories for a Year.


Wednesday, October 23, 2024
7–8:30 p.m.

The Vitruvian Man’s Indestructible City: A Geological Perspective
Dr. Jack Horner (Ferrucci Institute Fellow, Chapman University)
Introductory remarks: Dr. Federico Pacchioni (Ferrucci Director), Dr. Thomas Piechota (Ferrucci Fellow)

Six million of years ago the African continent closed the Gibraltar gap cutting off the connection between the Atlantic Ocean from the Mediterranean Sea. A geologic "crisis" unfolded that climaxed in one of the most incredible events ever recorded on earth. The aftermath of this geologic crisis in conjunction with eruptions of Italys volcanos, provided minerals allowing the Vitruvian man to become one of the greatest architects the world has ever known, responsible for the everlasting constructions of the Roman Empire. 

Jack Horner is a severely dyslexic dinosaur paleontologist who spent 7 years at the University of Montana without receiving a degree. He has since been awarded 4 honorary doctorates. He was a research scientist at Princeton University for 7 years, a Regents Professor at Montana State University for 34 years, and has been a Presidential Fellow at Chapman for the past 8 years. Jack is a MacArthur Fellow, and a National Geographic Explorer, and has more than 320 publications including a dozen books. He was the technical advisor for the first 6 installments of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World movie Franchise. Jack was also the Honorary President of the Italian Association of Paleontology and Paleoart (APPI) from 2009 until 2019. Jack does research in Montana, Mongolia, and Italy.


Wednesday, February 19, 2025
7–8:30 p.m.

“The Venice of… ”: Tourism, Gondolas, and the Colonization of Destination Italy
Dr. Stephanie Malia Hom (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Introductory remarks: Dr. Federico Pacchioni (Ferrucci Director), Dr. Giulio Ongaro (Ferrucci Fellow Emertus)

Italy has long been a commodity produced for and consumed by tourists. This destination Italy” is a touristic imaginary that exerts a powerful hold over perceptions of Italy and Italianness circulating in the global cultural imagination. My talk combines historical research and ethnographic field visits to investigate how and why the idea of Venice has come to exert significant power over Italys touristic imaginary. In what ways has Venice become a symbolic geography appropriated by cities across the Americas, Europe, and Asia? Why, I ask, do cities exert a claim to become The Venice of…” (i.e., America, France, the North, the East, and so on), and what is at stake for these cities in doing so? In parallel with this phenomenon, I also explore the emergence of gondola rides as tourist attractions. In places as far-flung as Long Beach to Macau, gondolas symbolize for tourists the experience of an authentic” destination Italy. Using data collected on rides throughout California, I delve into the history and practices of how the gondola has become, and endured as, a privileged signifier. Through cities and gondolas, then, I argue that the idea of Venice—even in its most de-territorialized, simulated, and popularized forms—has effectively colonized destination Italy, and in this way, destination Venice” reinforces the conceit that tourism today indeed operates as a form of colonialism.

Stephanie Malia Hom is Associate Professor of Transnational Italian Studies in the Department of French and Italian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She writes and lectures on modern Italy and the Mediterranean, mobility studies, colonialism and imperialism, migration and detention, and tourism history and practice. She is the author of Empire's Mobius Strip: Historical Echoes in Italy's Crisis of Migration and Detention (Cornell, 2019) and The Beautiful Country: Tourism and the Impossible State of Destination Italy (Toronto, 2015). Her essays and articles have been published in wide range of venues, including the leading journals in the fields of Italian studies, tourism history, urban studies, and folklore. She has also worked as a journalist in the U.S. and Europe.


Wednesday, March 19, 2025
7–8:30 p.m.

Artusi's Science and Art: Cooking and Beyond
Dr. Marco Panza (Ferrucci Institute Fellow, Chapman University)
Introductory remarks: Dr. Federico Pacchioni (Ferrucci Director), Dr. Anurandha Prakash (Ferrucci Fellow)

Marco Panza is a Full Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics in the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University. He is an internationally recognized specialist in the History and Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic, the author of several papers and books translated into many languages, and the director of the Mathematics, Philosophy, and Physics graduate program. Born in Varese (Lombardia), he attended Università degli Studi di Milano Statale and received his Ph.D. from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After serving as Assistant Professor at the University of Geneva, he became Associate Professor at the Nantes Université, France, and then a Research Professor at the CNRS, attached to the universities of Partis 7 and Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne. In 2000 he received the French Habilitation à Diriger Des Recherche, the highest degree in the European Academic System. He has been at Chapman since 2016, first as a Presidential Fellow and then as a Full Professor. He also taught at UNAM in Mexico City, Barcelona, and Pompeu Fabra University. Despite his long time abroad, he conserved professional and cultural links with Italy, where he regularly returns. He collaborates with many Italian scholars in different universities in his domains of expertise; among such collaborations is the collaboration at the establishment of FilMat, the Italian network for mathematics philosophers, and he is an active member of the Italian Society of History of Mathematics (SIMS).


Windows to Italy Series 2024-2025!

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