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AdI 2017: Violence Resistance Tolerance Sacrifice in Italy's Literary and Cultural History
From ancient philosophers — Heraclitus ("All things come into being through strife") — to Petrarch ("Sed sic sine lite atque offensione nil genuit natura parens") and beyond, people have often believed that nothing occurs without violence, struggle, and even war. The Hebrew Bible presents the lex talionis (the eye-for-an-eye code of justice), but also the command not to hate one's brother and to love neighbors (Lev. 19.17-18). The New Testament contains Christ's injunction to love one's enemies. And yet, even in the Gospels one comes across striking statements, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10.34), and also, "The one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one" (Luke 22.36). Even inanimate nature — the physical locus within which we humans live — often appears in all its frightening aspects almost as often as in its benevolent and nurturing manifestations. Thus, from the beginning of humankind's history to the present time, violence in all its manifestations and human responses to it — resistance, tolerance, compassion, and sacrifice — have accompanied and guided human beings. And yet, human responses to violence include not only additional violence and resistance to it, but also acceptance, tolerance, compassion, and sacrifice. Here are some of the questions which the phenomenon of violence brings up: What is violence, which are its roots, and how can it be assessed? Should humans embrace it, seek to resist to it, control it and overcome it, or should they also allow to be overcome by it in some form of sacrifice?
I am inviting scholars to engage in the analysis of violence, resistance, tolerance, and sacrifice within the context of Italy's literature and culture. Interested scholars are asked to define their approach theoretically and ethically, analyze the roots and consequences of violence — whether it be physical, verbal, mental, or psychological — and point out its consequences. Theoretical essays, drawing from various disciplines, are also most welcome. Thus AdI 2017 seeks to investigate whether any forms of violence are acceptable, or, rather, whether all forms of violence should be condemnable; and whether the only violence that may be somewhat fruitful, although always condemnable, is the violence which is inflicted, not upon others, but upon ourselves and which we are willing to bear for the benefit of others, as Christians believe that Christ did. Unquestionably, violence changes individuals, communities, and societies, which may seek to resist to it, tolerate it, or become victims of it. Confronted by violence, people have even immolated themselves.
Thus additional issues to be pondered are: Has historical violence created enduring literary and cultural expressions leading to peace or only to more violence? Has the representation of violence in literature and art glorified violence, created a vicious circle, or sought to break the virtually unstoppable spiraling of brutal force? What role have compassion and sacrifice played, and what role should they play in a violent world such as ours? Neither religious nor secular literature can claim on the unequivocal condemnation of violence in human lives. And yet, even outside religious literature, Italy's literary culture offers many examples — fictional and historical — of a non-violent life, from Boccaccio's Griselda to Galileo Galilei and Spiro Tozaj/Michele Tallarico in Gianni Amelio's Lamerica. Thus the issue to confront will always be: What is the best way to stop the vicious circle of violence?
Essays are due in the fall of 2016. The volume will appear in the fall of 2017. Please submit your proposal to Dino Cervigni, editor (firstname.lastname@example.org), or either guest editor: Chiara Ferrari (Chiara.Ferrari@csi.cuny.edu) and Olimpia Pelosi (email@example.com).
AdI 2017: The New Italy and the Jews: From Massimo D’Azeglio to Primo Levi
L. Scott Lerner and Jonathan Druker, Guest Editors
On the eve of the Revolution of 1848, Massimo D’Azeglio, calling on Pope Pius IX to abolish the Jewish ghetto of Rome and emancipate the Jews, explicitly connected the status of Italian Jewry to the project of Italian unification and nationhood: “The cause of Jewish regeneration,” he declared, was “strictly united with that of Italian Regeneration.” D’Azeglio’s dual campaign on behalf of Italian Jewry and Italian unification stands as the point of departure for this volume.
Did the project of Italian nationhood depend on a symbolic union of Italian Jews, who sought full participation in the new state, with those non-Jewish Italians who viewed the abolition of the ghettos as a sine qua non of the “New Italy”? In other words, was modern Italy founded on a true universality — which was only made meaningful by embracing the Jews as the bearers of difference? Or was it founded on difference and exclusion? Subsequently, did the New Italy of the Risorgimento and Unification betray itself when it gave way to Fascism, the Lateran Pacts, the Racial Laws and the roundups? Or did the liberal patriotism of the earlier period evolve inexorably into these forms?
Among historians, this question has recently given rise to sharply divergent interpretations. We welcome contributions that stake out a position in this debate by exploring the relationship between the new state and its Jews. Essays could focus either on the significance of Jews in relation to the evolution of Italian national identity or on Jewish experience per se. The conceptual point of arrival for the volume is the placement of an excerpt from Primo Levi’s essay, “La ricerca delle radici,” on the maturità exam in 2010. Has Levi’s unique moral voice helped to return Italy to the (secular) project of the liberal state? One image for consideration could be that of Levi and recent popes as separate, though perhaps no longer antagonistic voices, of the conscience of the nation. In this section, “Levi” will serve as an organizing principle but will allow for a broad range of essays on the post-war state in relation to Italian Jews, for not all of the essays would address Levi or his work centrally.
Between these two poles, D’Azeglio and Levi, the volume will examine the itinerary of union and disunion between modern Italy and its Jews with a focus on self-understanding.We aim to strike a balance between contributions in history and literary/cultural studies. Contributions should be between 6,000 and 9,000 words and may be written in English or Italian. They should be conceived for inclusion in one of the following sections:
I. Amor di patria, 1846-1890
II. Fulfillment or Betrayal? 1890-1945
III. Primo Levi Comes Home, 1945-2010
Deadline for submission: September 1, 2017.
Scholars are encouraged to contact the guest editors to express interest in contributing to the volume and to discuss contributions in advance.
Scott Lerner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Druker: email@example.com