From Calabria to Yale: In Search of Italian-American Identity with Dr. Joseph Luzzi

From Calabria to Yale: In Search of Italian-American Identity with Dr. Joseph Luzzi


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"You may have the universe, if I may have Italy,“ Giuseppe Verdi once said, and anyone familiar with Italy’s glorious history in the arts, sciences, and fine art of living can understand these passionate words. Less known is how descendants of Italy have created Italian diasporas all over the world, from Australia and Argentina to Brazil and of course the United States with its thirty million Italian Americans and “Little Italies” spread throughout the country.

The child of Italian immigrants and an award-winning author, teacher, and scholar, Professor Joseph Luzzi will discuss how his “two Italies”––the earthy southern Italian world of his immigrant childhood and the refined northern Italian realm of his professional life—join and clash in unexpected ways that continue to enchant the many millions who are either connected to Italy by ancestry or bound to it by love.

From the dramatic struggles of his ancestors in the impoverished Italian region of Calabria to his own adventures amid the Renaissance splendor of Florence, Luzzi creates a compelling family saga and deeply personal portrait of Italy that leaps past facile clichés about Italy and Italian American that we have inherited from popular media like The Sopranos and Under the Tuscan Sun. Join him for what promises to be a lively and unique exploration of the mysteries of Italian culture and its extraordinary American afterlife.

Led by award-winning author and expert on Italian studies, Dr. Joseph Luzzi, this interactive seminar will explore the Italian diaspora from a first-hand perspective. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the contrasts of cultures within Italy and in immigrant communities around the world

Joseph Luzzi received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, where he has taught since 2002 after being a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education, he is the author of 5 books, including My Two Italies, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his many awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In 2017 he was named Cittadino Onorario/Honorary Citizen in Acri, Calabria, his Italian parents’ birthplace. His next book is Botticelli’s Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance, which will be published by W. W. Norton. Professor Luzzi is the founder of the Virtual Book Club, an online community of readers dedicated to exploring some of the best books ever written. Learn more at JosephLuzzi.com.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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