The Catholic University of America

Oct. 19, 2012

Morante Conference to Present International Views

  Elsa Morante and the Italian Arts

The Davy Carozza International Conference: “Elsa Morante and the Italian Arts” will take place on October 25-27.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Italian novelist Elsa Morante. In celebration of her legacy, the Italian Studies Program of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Catholic University will host an international conference on October 25-27 to examine the works of this pioneering author.

The Davy Carozza International Conference: “Elsa Morante and the Italian Arts” will bring together 27 scholars from the United States and abroad to discuss various aspects of the works of the contemporary Italian novelist.

“She was a key author in Italian literature and only later was she recognized. [The conference] is the perfect time in an academic environment to unearth what is so paramount in her work,” said Stefania Lucamante, professor of Italian and comparative literature and the organizer of the conference.

Elsa Morante was born in Rome in 1912 and died in 1985. Her works examine social and political themes of the World War II and post-war era in Italy and her style was highly influential, according to Lucamante.

She explored ideas considered rebellious and eccentric for her time, including familial relationships and the roles of women, youth, the powerless, and the disenfranchised, Lucamante said. Her writings include novels, short stories, and poetry, among others.

The Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., a branch of the Italian government, is co-sponsoring the conference.

“We are particularly interested in promoting aspects of the Italian culture which have a resonance extending beyond our national borders. We trust that this is the case with Morante’s literary work. She managed to combine a very intimate vein, a deep analysis of the human soul with a robust narrative inspiration,” said Institute Director Alberto Manai.

The conference will feature an array of scholars who will offer papers on topics ranging from historical considerations of Morante’s work, to her impact in cinema and poetry, to her treatment of political issues.

“In accordance with Morante’s beliefs, this conference also aims at creating an intergenerational collaboration, engaging established and emerging scholars in a constructive dialogue,” Lucamante said.

Morante’s nephew, Daniele Morante, will deliver the keynote address, “Elsa Morante’s Correspondence: a New Source for the Artist’s Life,” on Oct. 26 at 5 p.m.

Other speakers include Gaetana Marrone-Puglia (Princeton University), Thomas Harrison (UCLA), Sharon Wood (University of Leicester, England), Rebecca West (University of Chicago), and Manuele Gragnolati (Oxford University). Universities in Italy, Poland, and Spain, among others, will be represented by conference speakers.

“This is a conference that offers many things at once,” Lucamante said. “For the students, it’s an opportunity to hear great international lecturers…It’s important for the faculty to hear more about an Italian artist outside the typical realm...Finally, it’s an endowed conference promoting the university in its cultural and intellectual endeavors.”

Several students in the Italian Studies Program will volunteer at the event. Senior media studies major and Italian studies minor Grace Xerri said she was looking forward to volunteering and exploring the opportunities the conference brings.

“I believe that international conferences such as the Morante conference are a great way to merge the knowledge of professors with the interest of the student body,” Xerri said. “I am looking forward to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with other Italian Studies scholars from various highly accredited universities.”

Manai added, “We hope that attendees of the conference will get an updated view of the studies which have covered the most diverse sides of Morante’s work. In assessing at an international level the actual status of the research on Morante, we also hope that it will be easier to…move forward [from here]. We know that research in literature, as in any other field, never reaches any final point, but only can aspire to pave the way for new, bigger achievements.”

The conference is made possible through an endowment of the Davy Carozza family. Carozza was a distinguished scholar and professor of Italian and Romance languages at Catholic University for many years. In order to preserve his legacy, his family set up a fund to foster the teaching and studying of Romance languages.

“I think there is no better way to give thanks to his family than by giving an international conference,” Lucamante said.

The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Stefania Lucamante in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, at

MEDIA: To cover the conference, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy Hines in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.


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