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La rabbia di suicido atomico: Of Historical Novels and the Danger of Disintegration in Elsa Morante's World

La rabbia di suicido atomico: Of Historical Novels and the Danger of Disintegration in Elsa Morante's World
100 St. Joseph Street, Carr Hall room 404
Time: Jan 22nd, 4:00 pm End: Jan 22nd, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: Language Studies (UTM), Italian Studies (FAS), French and Linguistics (UTSC), Critical Theory, Comparative Literature (FAS), 2000-, 1950-2000
Goggio Lecture in Italian Studies by Stefania Lucamente, Catholic University of America

Prof. Salvatore Bancheri, Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies, cordially invites you to a public lecture by
Prof. Stefania Lucamante, Catholic University of America
La rabbia di suicidio atomico:  Of Historical Novels and the Danger of Disintegration in Elsa Morante’s Work

Thursday, January 22, 2015
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Carr Hall 404
100 St. Joseph Street
University of Toronto
A reception to follow. Everyone is welcome and admission is free.
Please RSVP at italian.studies@utoronto.ca
This talk revisits the genesis, ideology, and reception of Elsa Morante’s La Storia forty years after its publication.
                Some of Morante’s essayistic and fictional writings constitute the novel’s philosophical backbone. Despite her contempt for any philosophical system, Morante nevertheless had very clear views on how ethics should govern existence. These foregrounding texts justify both the physical structure and stylistics of La Storia and inform the construction of Morante’s literary representation of the Shoah, perhaps the most important subplot in La Storia. The novel reconsiders history as the history of all compiled stories told during the Neorealist period of Italian literature; as such, Morante exercises the artist’s right to examine how such history has been handed down. Aside from the memory of the Resistance of Italo Calvino’s Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno (The Path to the Spiders’ Nests), she constructs a unique memory inserted into what Dan Diner calls the “canon of memories” (Raccontare 188). La Storia’s novelistic transfiguration of both truth and historical facts fully reveals the colossal deception that is History: a perverted ethics of discrimination controlled by a system of ideological forces manufacturing tragic deceit.
                Morante problematizes the aesthetic categories relevant to the historical novel to reenergize its ethical dimension: form and content must coincide with the point of view of the writer who lived through the events described and the author must use her “experience” to outline the world as it exists at the core of her concern. My talk contends that, symbolic of Morante’s disillusionment, La Storia is a Gramscian people’s novel: a novel that, at its generative core, presents its author as an organic member of the disenfranchised anonymous majority. Free from the constraints of the intellectual elite, Morante’s modus operandi shows a definite disengagement from current literary trends by first choosing the historical genre for her message and then, in turn,­­ deconstructing it.
Stefania Lucamante, full professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. specializes in contemporary Italian culture from the perspectives of women’s studies, literary narrative (the novel as a genre) and film. She is the author of Forging Shoah Memories: Italian Women Writers, Jewish Identity, and the Holocaust (Palgrave Macmillan press, 2014),Quella difficile identità (Iacobelli 2012); A Multitude of Women: The Challenges of the Contemporary Italian Novel (UTP 2008), Elsa Morante e l'eredità proustiana (Cadmo 1998) and Isabella Santacroce (Cadmo 2002). She is also the editor of Italy and the Bourgeosie: The Re-Thinking of a Class (Fairleigh-Dickinson UP 2009) and Italian Pulp Fiction: the New Narrative of the Giovani Cannibali Writers (Fairleigh-Dickinson UP 2001), and the co-editor (with Sharon Wood) of Under Arturo's Star: the Cultural Legacies of Elsa Morante (Purdue UP 2005); Memoria collettiva e memoria privata: il ricordo della Shoah come politica sociale (Igitur 2008), as well as journal articles and encyclopedia entries on her fields of interest.

This event is free and open to all, but an RSVP is requested.  For more information and to RSVP, please contact the Department of Italian Studies at italian.studies@utoronto.ca.

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