Italian Studies News
Congratulations to the Graduates of 2011
Well done and congratulations to all our Graduates who secured another outstanding set of results in 2011. Staff joined in the celebrations at the conferral ceremonies held in the Whitworth Hall in July. The 2011 Società Dante Alighieri Prizes for outstanding performance in Final Year Language were awarded to Giuseppe Lenti and George Tsounias.
Renaissance Italian Manuscript comes home!
On Wednesday 6 July Professor Milner went down to London to attend the sale at Christie's Auction House of part of the Arcana Collection, a collection of rare and valuable illuminated manuscripts put together over decades by an American collector. One of the jewels of the sale was a volume of the so-called Colonna Missal, an illuminated liturgical manuscript on vellum produced between 1532 and 1555 and used for the saying of the Mass on key ceremonial occasions in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Produced by the Colonna family, it was being worked on by leading illuminators at exactly the same time that Michelangelo was decorating the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The John Rylands Library already possessed the six other volumes that made up the complete set (JRUL, Latin Mss. 32-37). When approached by Christie’s with news that the missing volume was coming back on the market, the Library and University took a decision to try and raise the necessary funding to bid. Estimated to fetch between £100,000-£150,000 plus buyer’s premium, the necessary funding was put in place through the generosity of the National Art Collections Fund, a private benefactor, the Friends of the John Rylands Library and the University’s own Library Endowment Fund. The antiquarian book traders Bernard Quaritch were appointed to bid on our behalf, much as they had done in the late nineteenth century for Mrs Rylands. With the previous item going for £1.4 million, there was no guarantee we would secure the rare manuscript with bidding jumping by £20,000 increments. At the higher end of the estimate bidding stopped, and down came the hammer: the manuscript was to be reunited with the other six volumes and was making its way back to Manchester! Result.
'Dante in Manchester' poster
Prof gives Inaugural Lecture as Serena Chair of Italian
On 24 March Professor Milner gave his Inaugural Lecture as Serena Chair of Italian to a packed Historic Reading Room at the John Rylands Library Deansgate, on the subject of 'Dante in Manchester. The lecture drew on the rich tradition of Dante studies and the world-leading holdings built up by Mrs Rylands herself with the purchase of the Passerini collection from Florence in 1905. Prof. Milner sought to reconstruct the nexus of social, political, and religious relations which brought Dante to Manchester in the late nineteenth century and led to the foundation of he Manchester Dante Society in 1906. The Lecture was introduced by Prof. Judith Bryce from the University of Bristol and attended by colleagues from Leeds, UCL, Nottingham, MMU, and Cambridge as well as members of the Manchester branch of the Società Dante Alighieri, the Friends of the John Rylands Library, and colleagues from the Library and University. Representatives from local schools and the Chamber of Commerce also attended together with family and friends. An enjoyable evening was rounded off with a 'prosecco' drinks reception.
Manchester Students Awarded Società Dante Alighieri prize
Congratulations to 2010 Italian graduates Daisy Cantalamessa and Meritxell Ramonet, who were awarded the annual Società Dante Alighieri prize for their outstanding achievement in the Italian language. We wish them all the best for the future!
Teaching Excellence Award for Dr Guyda Armstrong
Congratulations to Dr Guyda Armstrong, who has been awarded one of the prestigious University Teaching Excellence Awards for 2009/10. These Awards focus on achievement in relation to teaching over recent years and involve a grant of £5,000 for recipients to further develop their teaching or their career. This is the Italian Department's second University Teaching Excellence Award in recent years: In 2007/08 Senior Language Tutor Dr Elena Polisca was the recipient of the same award.
Dr Armstrong intends to use the money to continue her research into the application of new media technologies to the teaching of medieval studies. Details of her current project, The Manchester Digital Dante Project, can be found here.
Manchester Italian student wins national Dante essay prize
Congratulations to recent Italian graduate Georgina Haacke, who has won the 2008 Leeds Centre for Dante Studies Essay Prize with her essay on "The Depiction of Paolo and Francesca through illustration in Dante's Commedia". Her essay formed part of the assessment for Dr 's Dante course 'Beyond the Text: The Book and its Body', for which she undertook original research using the historic Dante holdings of the John Rylands Library. It was commended by the Prize's adjudicator, Professor Steven Botterill (University of California, Berkeley), as 'a wholly admirable piece of work, thoroughly researched and very well written; [...] it achieves that most difficult of successes in Dante studies, telling us something we didn't know about a much-studied episode from the poem and its reception'.
Georgina graduated in July 2008 with a BA (Hons) in French and Italian, and is currently following the MA in Translation and Interpreting at the University of Westminster.
New Institute for Linguistics and Language Studies
Delia Bentley has recently been appointed Director of the newly formed Institute for Linguistics and Language Studies (ILLS) within the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester . The School has a long established tradition as a leader in the field nationally and internationally and the new Institute will bring together the impressive range of expertise across the School in linguistics and language studies. It will provide a forum for collaboration in research, teaching, and postgraduate training and supervision both within Manchester as well as in other Universities of the Northwest. A launch event will be held in March 2009 and will be advertised soon.
Liliana goes to Rome: XVIII Corso di Aggiornamento PLIDA
From the 22-26 September 2008, Liliana Foligno Smith attended a training and development course offered by the Società Dante Alighieri on the theme: "L'Italiano della Repubblica: Italia e italiano a sessant'anni dalla Costituzione". The course took place in the offices of the Società Dante Alighieri in Rome. Liliana found it to be a very interesting and valuable course, providing her with a number of opportunities to reflect on and analyse the language used in the Italian Constitution, in the political and legal fields and in the literary texts of these last decades. Of particular interest, were the linguistic laboratories, organised to examine the teaching of specialist languages, which allowed Liliana to further reflect on ways of dealing with specialist texts. This was particularly useful to her involvement in the delivery of the course 'Italian for Business Purposes' at the University of Manchester.
The lectures and seminars were led by eminent lecturers such as, Professor Tullio De Mauro, well known Italian linguist and Director of the Department of Linguistic Science at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, and Giuseppe Patota, another well known Italian linguist, Professor of History of the Italian Language at the University of Siena and Scientific Director of the PLIDA Certificate. Professor Patota is well known from both his publications and his participation in various TV programmes, including 'Qui si parla italiano' on Rai Educational.
Part of the course was dedicated to presenting the PLIDA materials and exams. This opportunity has provided Liliana with a better knowledge of the PLIDA Certificate, which will undoubtedly enable her to better mentor those students who choose to take the PLIDA Commerciale (Business PLIDA), a certificate attesting their competence in Business Italian.
Teaching Excellence Awards
Congratulations to Dr Elena Polisca, Senior Language Tutor, Italian Studies, who has been awarded one of the four prestigious 'Teaching Excellence Awards' by the University. These Awards focus on achievement in relation to teaching over recent years and involve a grant of £5,000 for recipients to further develop their teaching or their career. Elena, who was given the award in June 2008 would like to thank the School for supporting her successful application.
After a three-month run at London's National Gallery as Radical Light: Italy's Divisionist Painters, 1891-1910 , this major exhibition of the little-known but highly influential Italian Divisionists opens at the Kunsthaus Zürich on 26 September under the title Rivoluzione! Italian Modernism from Segantini to Balla.
Often framed within the context of French Post-Impressionism, this exhibition and its accompanying catalogue seek to re-present Divisionism within its Italian context: artistic, political, spiritual. Exploring the dual symbolist and socialist tendencies amongst the group, the show culminates with iconic works by the newly-declared Futurists Balla, Boccioni and Carrà, thus anchoring the emergence of Futurism within the political and technical radicalism of the Divisionists.
Running until 11 January 2009, the Zürich exhibition will look to repeat the successes of the London edition of the show, which was previewed as one of the exhibition highlights of 2008 in The Telegraph and listed in The Times' Top Five Galleries.
Dr Lara Pucci of the Italian Department was Research Assistant to curator Simonetta Fraquelli and is one of the contributors to the exhibition catalogue.
Congratulations to all the Italian Finalists who graduated on 15 July in the Whitworth Hall. The department was delighted to share in the celebrations and success of an excellent year which secured an outstanding profile of results and a record number of distinctions in the spoken language. We wish you all the best in your chosen careers.
Premio Dante Alighieri: 2008 awards
Congratulations to David Turnbull and Michael McCafferty, recipients of the 2008 edition of the annual 'Premio Dante Alighieri' sponsored by the Manchester branch of the Societa Dante Alighieri. The prizes, for outstanding achievement in Italian Studies over the course of 4 years, were presented by Dott.ssa Manuela Costanzo, President of the Manchester branch, in the company of fellow committee member Professor Lucio Piccirillo and academic staff from the Italian department.
Students study Dante's 700-year history at the Rylands
Students from the Italian department covered seven centuries of Dantean history on an innovative book history course, the only one of its kind in the UK.
'Beyond the Text: The Book and its Body' introduces the new field of book history via a study of Dante's Divine Comedy. However, rather than studying the poem itself, students investigated the material forms that the book has taken over the 700 years since its composition, looking at manuscripts, print and electronic editions and other new digital media.
The final-year course is taught by Dr Guyda Armstrong of the Italian department, with experts from the University's John Rylands Library on Deansgate: Assistant Keeper of Printed Books, Ed Potten; Modern Literary Archivist, Stella Halkyard, and manuscript expert, Anne Young.
Ed Potten said: "The University has extraordinarily rich holdings in Dante studies and the early Italian book, and is therefore one of few institutions worldwide in which a course of this type would be possible."
Italian Academies Research project presentation
Tuesday 29 April John Rylands University Library
Italian at Manchester, in conjunction with the Special Collections branch of the John Rylands Library, was pleased to host a presentation of the AHRC funded 'The Italian Academies 1530-1700: A Themed Collection Database' project. The project which is co-led by Prof. Jane Everson (RHUL) and Denis Reidy (British Library) seeks to provide an integrated database through which researchers can investigate the constitution and activities of the numerous Italian Academies which sprung up in the major Italian civic centres during the Early Modern period. The two RAs on the project, Dr Simone Testa and Dr Lorenza Gianfrancesco, gave presentations outlining the database's functionality and scope. Manchester was particularly pleased to host the event in light of the numerous texts produced by the Italian Academies which it holds within the Rylands Italian Special Collections.
Please click to acces the database.
Herford Memorial Lecture in Italian Studies 2008
On Tuesday 11 March, the Italian Department welcomed Professor Brian Richardson, FBA, of the University of Leeds to give the annual Herford Memorial Lecture in Italian Studies which was inaugurated back in 1931. Professor Richardson is a world expert in the history of the Italian book, and has worked extensively on the John Rylands collection of early printed books. Introduced by his former PhD student, Dr Guyda Armstrong, now of the Italian department at Manchester, Professor Richardson spoke to a packed auditorium on the subject of 'Isabella d' Este and the social life of books', and demonstrated how the commissioning and acquisition of books played a key part in Isabella' s conspicuous collecting of luxury goods in Renaissance Mantua. A final vote of thanks was given by Professor Emeritus T. Gwynfor Griffiths, formerly Chair of Italian at Manchester, who himself taught Professor Richardson in his undergraduate years at Oxford.
Italian Ambassador visit
Ambassador D'Aragona was shown a selection of the library's Italian Renaissance holdings
On the afternoon of Thursday 28 February, the Italian section hosted Ambassador Gian Carlo Aragona at the Deansgate branch of the John Rylands Library. The Ambassador was accompanied by the First Secretary, Roberto Orlando, and the Italian Consul to Manchester, Chiara Petraca, together with Dr. Danielle D'Aguanno from Rome, Director of Language Learning of the Società Dante Alighieri. Over 200 staff and students, including representatives from both Salford and MMU, packed the Historic Reading Room to hear the Ambassador's address on Italian foreign policy and transatlantic relations. In welcoming the party, Prof. Milner remarked on the strength of the historic links between Italy and Manchester, noting that a hundred years earlier, in October 1908, the Manchester Dante Society had welcomed the then Ambassador, the Marquis di San Giuliano, to the University for a lecture on Canto XXVI of the Inferno. In his vote of thanks on behalf of the University, Prof. Vincent thanked the Ambassador and Consul for their visit before leading them to a seminar room where the Special Collections librarians had laid out a display of Italian manuscripts and early printed editions from the Aldine and other collections.
Since January 2008, Italian Studies at the University of Manchester has become the UK's first recognised certifying centre for PLIDA (Progetto Lingua Italiana Dante Alighieri). The PLIDA certificates are internationally recognised and attest proficiency in Italian as a foreign language on the basis of the Common European Framework for Languages.
We currently offer PLIDA Commerciale (Business PLIDA), which is intended for those who study and use Italian in the business and financial world. This diploma certifies proficiency for the following levels of the Common European Framework for Languages: B1, B2, and C1.