IT and US: Italian Diaspora Studies Writing Seminar. Calabria, 2019

Apr 20, 2019 174

The “Italian Diaspora Studies Association”, in conjunction with the Department of Humanities at the University of Calabria, located in Rende, a few kilometers outside Cosenza (Calabria, Italy), has launched a new residential writing program dedicated to the topic of “Cultural Heritage and Memory”. With the Patronages of the Canadian Embassy of Rome, the US Consulate in Naples, the Italian Cultural Institute of Montreal (CA), the Italian American Studies Association (IASA), and in association with the “Paul and Ann Rubino Endowed Professorship in Italian American Studies” at Loyola University, Chicago (USA), the program is directed by Professors Margherita Ganeri and Vito Teti, assisted by Connie Guzzo McParland. 

The first edition of the program will take place from May 15th to May 30th, 2019: one week in the lovely ancient town of Morano Calabro (CS), in the National Park of Mount Pollino, another week at the sea on the northern Ionian Coast of Calabria, with several planned field trips in the surrounding areas of Calabria and Basilicata, including a day-trip in Matera, European Capital of Culture 2019.

Although workshops and seminars are offered by leading writers and scholars, this is not a typical academic program. It is opened to anyone interested in learning and writing about their personal histories of diaspora in the world and about Italy, and to visit the places of the Italian emigrants’ departures, immersing oneself in an all-encompassing experience, including the sensory, in the real and cultural spaces of South Italy.

The program is aimed at establishing a broad transnational perspective on the Italian diaspora, through a Community-Engaged Scholarship program characterized by the mission of focusing on the South of Italy and on the importance of material culture and of historical heritage that can be experienced only by visiting the specific locales of the diaspora, such as landscapes, spaces, food, music, and dance.

In this transnational, interdisciplinary program, participants will experience the vibrant feeling of being immersed in a platform of dialoguing, comparing and networking with different Italian diasporas across the globe, connecting regional spaces where the issues of past migration are still present. Formal and informal talks will create a lively and engaged program that will stimulate creativity regarding memory and writing, and will also offer participants a unique opportunity to visit the beautiful and historically rich regions of Calabria and Lucania in a not-simply-touristic way, and at the lowest possible cost for a quality stay.

We strongly believe in the importance of places within the processes of reading and writing. The purpose of our program is to recover - through discussions, readings, writings - the obscure and interfering roots of experiences, generations, geographies behind the writing, making them become a text. Is the place a casualness of birth and/or a choice of life? Is it chance or destiny? Starting from personal and family experiences, residences, transits, migrations, contaminations, returns, individual or collective histories, the places of writing become the history - visible or translated - of the writer's self. During the two weeks of full immersion, even field trips and moments of leisure are planned to stimulate creativity through the acquired knowledge of local traditions and its context. 

The program will offer two workshops in writing and one on inspirational reading, plus a series of seminars delivered by guest speakers. The well-known poet and painter Maria Mazziotti Gillan will offer the master workshop, entitled The Power of the Past: Writing Poetry to Save Your Life, that will concentrate on writing about ancestries and histories.

The Italian Diaspora Studies Writing Seminar is a cultural endeavor, an occasion to search for roots and identity, and to be connected with the source, while closely interacting with well-known writers and scholars.

Our program is carried out in the territory involving local villages, people and institutions in order to better present their life and their rich history and beauty, and to promote a process of cognitive growth through immersion – visual, audible, linguistic, culinary – in the places from which the diaspora began and has left many traces.

The territory is now marked by the presence of thousands of immigrants, very often welcomed, as is demonstrated in the case of the town of Riace, made famous all over the world. We will have as a guest the former Mayor of Riace, Mimmo Lucano, who will talk about his experience, the controversy that has followed, and the future of Italy’s immigration policies.

The immersion in the villages and the local communities will offer encounters with the present-day reality of immigration and the new Italian multiculturalism. We hope to be able to construct a pathway of experiential cultural formation, destined to change, in the participants, the image of South Italy and the meaning of Italian origin.

The program 2019 is full and we already have a waiting list for the edition of next June 2020. It will take place in the South of Calabria and Sicily. Information on the new program will be available online from July 2019:

 https://italiandiasporastudies.com/

 https://www.facebook.com/ItalianDiasporaStudies/

 Email: italiandiasporastudies@gmail.com 

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