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SLLLC Celebrates Settimana della Lingua Italiana

Dr. Carlo Illuminati takes students on a journey inside Italian literature, Petrarch and Baroque art, and the heroines of romantic opera

From October 15 to October 19, the SLLLC and the Italian Studies Program celebrated the Settimana della Lingua Italiana (Italian Language Week), an event dedicated to promoting Italian Language and Culture in the world.
 
This year, Dr. Francesca Cadel invited as our guest Dr. Carlo Illuminati Porcari, an independent scholar who lectures all over Europe and North America, known for his work on Dante and the concept of fraud.  In the three lectures he gave, Dr. Illuminati took our students on a journey inside Italian Literature, beginning with Dante the Middle Ages, passing through Petrarch and Baroque art, and ending with the heroines Romantic Opera.
 
The first lecture on Monday October 15 was on “Minotaurs & Geryons: the symbolic monsters of violence & fraud” and explored the representation of these monsters in many beautifully illuminated manuscripts, showing how the illuminations can be seen as real interpretations and how sometimes they highlight inconsistencies and misunderstandings. This talk was well attended and the students were spellbound by the images and by Dr. Illuminati’s historical and philosophical reconstruction, so much that the discussion continued well past the end of the talk.

The second lecture on Wednesday, “The Prison and the Bark: Platonic and Ovidian Traces in Petrarch’s Canzoniere” was devoted to analyzing the platonic metaphor of the prison of the body, side by side with the Ovidian tale of Daphne’s body transforming in a tree, and included a Latin reading of Ovid. Petrarch’s use of the Laurel tree (lauro) as a signal for Laura, his beloved also complicates this metaphor. Dr. Illuminati ended by analyzing Bernini’s rendition of the tale of Daphne and Apollo in his famous sculpture now in Villa Borghese, Rome. This second rendez-vous with Italian language and culture also had great success with public and the lively discussion it sparked.


Finally, on Friday October 19 Dr. Illuminati had lunch with some students from the Italian Studies Program and kindly answered all their questions about Italian culture, literature and music, which led nicely to our afternoon talk on “Dizziness and Enchantment: The Pain and Delirium of Womanly Love in Romantic Opera.” This talk attracted a great number of students and colleagues, who were treated to an academic lecture which weaved in also videos of Opera performances from Lucia di Lammermoor and from La Traviata.  Dr. Illuminati explored the deep emotional motivations of the heroines in the Opera, comparing them to some of their French and Italian sources, and pointing out the inherent paradox of the opera: the more the heroin is suffering from unbearable pain, the more her singing is enjoyable. 
 
Our students were so grateful for Dr. Illuminati’s wisdom, and many stayed long to chat with him about Italian opera and Italian music in general. Thanks to Dr. Illuminati Porcari’s insightful lectures, and his general warmth and wisdom, this year’s Settimana della Lingua Italiana can only be described as a great success!