The Davy Carozza International Conference: Elsa Morante and the Italian Arts

At Catholic University in Washington DC:  October 25-27, 2012
This academic conference aims to shed new light on Elsa Morante’s influence during her time (eg. her collaborations with Pier Paolo Pasolini) and on her artistic/literary legacy in a celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of her birth. Morante’s contribution connects the Italian novelistic tradition to international currents and trends far beyond modernism and the influence of American writers in postwar Italy. The Roman author pioneered many a dramatic change in rhetoric and style later seen in the work of Fabrizia Ramondino, Patrizia Cavalli, Carmelo Samonà, Simona Vinci, Elena Ferrante among many artists of our time. While Morante’s influence does not define a clear literary path that would define the elements of a proper Morantian ‘school,’ it seems unquestionable that her rich style suffuses the pages of many Italian contemporary novels.

Indeed, Morante’s works are often quoted in films as a source of inspiration for the characters, as Cristina Comencini’s filmic texts show. Also Morante’s prophetic and critical sides still need to be fully acknowledged and explored. In this light, many of her prophecies need to be analyzed or rethought against the backdrop of our times: the true meaning of the atomic bomb (1965 Turin speech), the postwar rise of an Italian lower-middle bourgeoisie unwittingly complacent with capitalism, the fate of youth, and the idea of intellectual and esthetic commitment seen as political engagement. Morante touches upon many important issues still prevalent in today’s Italian society: outcasts, the disenfranchised, powerless creatures like the ghettaroli (the Roman Jews) of the Roman Round-up of 1943, children and women.

In this respect, she is similar to her close friend and artistic companion Pier Paolo Pasolini, with whom she also a shares a position of eccentricity —and of resistance. To this end, a part of the conference will be dedicated to her original relationship with Pasolini and their reflections on controversial concepts as smagamento (disillusionment), barbarie (the barbaric), irrealtà (unreality), grazia (grace), and the world of ragazzini (youth) as objects of desire and carriers of salvation.

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

Keynote speaker: Daniele Morante, “Elsa’s Epistolary”
Confirmed Speakers: R. Scott Carlson, Lorenzo Salvagni, Sarah Carey, Maria Morelli, Katrin Wehling-Giorgi, Eleanor Holdridge, Flavia Cartoni, Claudia Karagoz, Kenise Lyons, Thomas Harrison, Hanna Serkowska, Giovanna De Luca, Manuele Gragnolati, Nadia Setti, Francesca Cadel, Gaetana Marrone-Puglia.