American Association for Italian Studies

Recent Updates
A letter from Carol Lazzaro-Weis, AAIS President

Dear Colleagues:

As your President, it is my pleasure to write to you all with an update on the activities and initiatives of the AAIS. Many of you have recently returned from our very successful annual conference held at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. This was the third time since 2004 that we met outside of North America. Although the University of Zurich is located in a German-speaking canton, Italian is one of the four national languages of the country. Francesco De Sanctis authored his history of Italian literature as a professor in Zurich. Over 700 members of the AAIS who now come from over 24 countries worldwide attended our largest conference in the history of the organization.

The conference and some of the sessions were covered by Swiss radio, television and newspapers:

Professors Tatiana Crivelli and Emilio Speciale, supported by colleagues and students, graciously hosted the conference, which had been three years in the making. Attendees were greeted at the welcome reception by Andreas Jucker, Dean of Arts and Sciences, and again by University President Michael Heingartner, at the plenary session. Renowned philosopher and feminist theoretician Rosi Braidotti, currently Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University and founding Director of the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht, delivered a challenging address, “Posthumanist Paradoxes.” Attendees participated in 180 sessions covering a wide variety of topics (see program). The future of the Humanities and language teaching is an issue at universities, and the AAIS members participated in these national and international debates over the course of the conference. On Sunday, May 25, a well-attended round table open to the public &&8212; “Non c’è più disciplina: presente e futuro dell’italianistica e della lingua italiana” (There is No Longer (a) discipline: The Present and the Future of Italian Studies and Language) — brought together myself, Manuele Bertoli, Director of Education in the Zurich canton, Sabina Schaffner, Director of Language Studies, Guido Baldassari, Presidente: Associazione degli Italianisti d’Italia and Stefano Jossa, Cultural Attaché and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of London. We discussed the history of teaching of Italian literature inside and outside Italy and then received questions from the audience and press. The discussion will continue at our next annual conference to be held at the University of Colorado, Boulder, March 26-28, 2015.

A call for sessions and roundtables will be issued presently on our list-serve.

Book Prize 2013

As Vice President, Professor Norma Bouchard chairs the committee on the AAIS Book Prize. She announced that three prizes were awarded this year to our colleagues:

Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque
Paolo Squatriti, Landscape and Change in Early Medieval Italy: Chestnuts, Economy and Culture (Cambridge University Press).

Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century
Steven Soper, Building a Civil Society (Toronto UP).

Twentieth and Twenty-First Century
Gaia Giuliani and Cristina Lombardi-Diop, Bianco e nero; Storia dell’identità razziale degli italiani (Le Monnier).

Information on how to apply for the 2014 Book Prize is available on the Book Prize page. I would like to call the attention of those planning to submit their work that Professor Bouchard’s current address is Oak Hall East SSHB, 365 Fairfield Way, The University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269.

Graduate Student Travel Awards

This is the second year we have succeeded in making travel funds available to students currently writing their dissertation. We will again call for submission during January 2015.

This year’s winners and their topics are:

  • Mathew Coneys, University of Warwick UK: “Mandeville in Italy: the Italian versions of the Book of John Mandeville and their reception in the fifteenth century.”
  • Antje Gamble, University of Michigan: “Translating Marino Marini for an International Cold War Audience.”
  • Laura di Bianco, City University of New York-Graduate Center: “Women Outside the Polis: Francesca Comencini’s Cinema.”
  • Sole Anatrone, University of California, Berkeley: “Una donna, tante voci.”
  • Anita Virga, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa: “1860 e Nuovomondo: due diverse “storie” di subalterni siciliani a confronto.”
  • Filomela Fantarella, Brown University: “La “Liberta’” di Giovanni Verga. Un’ analisi critica.”

We will offer similar stipends next year to help graduate students attend the conference.

Italian Culture

Please support the AAIS by asking your library to subscribe to Italian Culture if it does not already do so. For details, please see the Italian Culture page.


AAIS is also in the process of updating the by-laws as we move forward in the 21st century. The committee, composed of professors of all ranks and graduate students from both the US and Europe, will request input from members in the coming months. I wish you a pleasant and very productive new semester and I look forward to seeing you next year in Boulder.

Carol Lazzaro-Weis