27-30 June 2017/SIS Biennial Conference, University of Hull

Society for Italian Studies

Panel Submission


Title: Interart and Intermedia in Italy

Speakers: Dr Clodagh Brook (Birmingham), Prof Giuliana Pieri (Royal Holloway), Dr Emanuela Patti (Birmingham)

Focus and aims This panel analyses the relationship between arts and media in twentieth and twenty-first century Italy, and investigates collaborations between artists from different artistic disciplines by focusing on three case studies: cinema, art, and literature,  exploring the ways in which these three arts expand beyond their boundaries, why they do, and what the consequences are. The panel will present work-in-progress findings of the second phase of the Interdisciplinary Italy project (2015-2018).

Panel Chair: Clodagh Brook

Clodagh Brook: Intermedial cinema: Creativity and collaboration

This talk investigates how Italian cinema has collaborated with the arts, particular other visual arts, from the Sixties through to our digital contemporaneity. Crossing boundaries between artistic disciplines has been variously described as ‘avant-garde’, ‘experimental’, ‘disruptive’, even, for Roland Barthes, as ‘war’. However, by the 1960s, cinema was already a collaborative art, so was there still room for such experimentation? Where has cinema set its artistic boundaries? Has it domesticated art, architecture or fashion? And are there players who defamiliarise the normality of cinema’s interartistic and intermedial collaboration? Taking mini case studies from Italy of the 1960s, 1980s and the 2010s, I will focus attention on individuals and groups who are actively engaged in disrupting boundaries and I will explore how institutions and technologies foster or hinder such disruption. In so doing, the talk will challenge and amend established ideas of cultural centres and peripheries. I seek to examine how an interdisciplinary (and interartistic/intermedial) approach can subvert widely accepted artistic canons; what looks central under the lens of the monodisciplinary microscope may not be so from an interartistic one.

Giuliana Pieri: Interatistic practices in the arts 1909-1969

Ever since the Italian Futurist movement came to the attention of the international artistic community in 1909, radical art movements in Italy have been characterised by a programmatic attempt to cross the boundaries of disciplines and media. Yet interartistic practices have more often than not been downplayed by critics, art historians and curators alike. We still often reply on monodisciplinary narratives which cannot easily accommodate the work of those practitioners who moved easily between media and/or whose work span across a number of artistic disciplines. This paper will focus on a number of case studies to highlight the centrality of interartistic theories and practices in the work of a number of practitioners associated with Futurism (before and after the Great War), industrial design, and Neoavanguardia. By focusing on the work of Giacomo Balla, Fausto Melotti, Gio Ponti, and Ketty La Rocca I intend to probe further into the critical resistance towards interartistic practices in Italy in the period 1909-1969.

Emanuela: Italian Digital Poetry: Birth and Evolution of a Genre

Up to now, a history of Italian digital poetry has not been written yet. Not unexpectedly, one may still wonder what exactly digital poetry is, given the fact that in Italy the genre has not been canonized so far. Only in the last decade, the term has found official definitions in international handbooks, guides and companions such as A Companion to Digital Literary Studies (2008) and The John’s Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (2014), which have acknowledged the existence of this new genre (Strehovec 2003). In its broadest sense, ‘digital poetry’ is poetry in which computer programming or processes (software) are distinctively used in the composition, generation, or presentation of the text (or combination of texts) (Funkhouser 2007). By drawing on a number of case studies from the Sixties to our days, including Nanni Balestrini, Gianni Toti and Caterina Davinio, this paper discusses whether and how we can trace the history of Italian digital poetry, looking at how the genre has metamorphosed in the last fifty years together with computer technologies.



Title: Teaching Italian the Interdisciplinary Way: Trends, Challenges, Opportunities

Speakers: Dr Clodagh Brook (Birmingham), Prof Giuliana Pieri (Royal Holloway), David Brown (The Sixth Form College Farnborough)

Panel Chair: Prof Giuliana Pieri

Focus and Aims This panel explores models and methodologies in interdisciplinary (rather than multidisciplinary) teaching, drawing on the experiences of the AHRC-funded Interdisciplinary Italy project and current pedagogical theories. The panel will open with an overview of current thinking on, and practice of interdisciplinarity in the seminar and classroom. This will be followed by a discussion of the development of teaching material on the part of the Interdisciplinary Italy research project and a presentation by a secondary school teacher.

Clodagh Brook: New trends in Interdisciplinary Teaching

Interdisciplinary teaching has rapidly become normative and naturalised. Despite the apparent omnipresence of interdisciplinarity, Alan Liu argues that interdisciplinary study is the most seriously underthought critical, pedagogical and institutional concept in the modern academy. In universities, we typically present a range of multidisciplinary (rather than interdisciplinary) approaches in multi-taught modules and leave it up to students to make the links, without, however, providing them the tools to do so.

In this talk, I will critique recent, and often radical, models of interdisciplinary teaching, such as that currently being rolled out in the Finnish school sector and the Ross Spiral model. Drawing on the work of Julie Thompson Klein, Hans Lauge Hansen and others, as well as on emerging research from the AHRC-funded Interdisciplinary Italy project, this talk will explore what makes interdiscipinarity successful in the seminar room, classroom and lecture theatre. The focus of the talk is especially on notions of connectivity, collaboration and the active, creative student, as well as on the methodologies and practices necessary to make take multidisciplinary teaching and learning towards successful interdisciplinary practice.

Giuliana Pieri: Interdisciplinarity in the classroom: ‘Interdisciplinary Futurism’ at Tate Exchange

This paper will present a collaborative project between the Italian department at Royal Holloway University of London, The Sixth Form College (Farnborough) and Queen Margaret’s School (York). ‘Interdisciplinary Futurism’ aimed to explore modes of interdisciplinary exchange both between universities and secondary schools, and between different disciplines in schools. The focus on a common topic, Italian Futurism, allowed the students and teachers involved in the project to question the way in which disciplines articulate and shape knowledge, but also limit the boundaries of understanding and research. The project, which developed over a number of months, culminated with an event at Tate Exchange.

David Brown (The Sixth Form College Farnborough): Interdisciplinary in the classroom: Fascist visual culture in the History curriculum

This paper will present a project run by the History department at The Sixth Form College in Farnborough, the Liceo Linguistico Sperimentale (Ragusa) and Prof Giuliana Pieri (Royal Holloway) which aims to explore memories of Fascism and the traces of the regime in the built environment. The projects’ aim is to challenge traditional ways to study Fascism in the history curriculum by means of a focus on the role of the visual arts (painting, design, sculpture and photography) and architecture in the study of the regime. The project provides a platform to explore different modes of collaboration between school and the HE sector as well as showcasing the role of interdisciplinary perspectives and research-led teaching to enrich the history curriculum in schools.

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