Public Lectures

Primo Levi reads Dante. The role of literature in our world

Botticelle

Sandro Botticelli, Italian, 1480-1490, Pointe d'argent, encre, coloré à la détrempe, 13 × 18.7 in

Professor Lino Pertile
Tuesday 11 October 2016

TBA
The University of Sydney


Is there a degree of suffering and degradation beyond which a man or a woman ceases to be a human being? A point beyond which our spirit dies and only pure physiology survives? And to what extent, if any, may literary culture be capable of preserving the integrity of our humanity? These are some of the questions that this lecture proposes to consider with reference to two places where extreme suffering is inflicted – the fictional hell imagined by Dante in his Inferno, and the real hell experienced by Primo Levi at Auschwitz and described in If This Is A Man.

Lino Pertile is Carl A. Pescosolido Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, and former Paul E. Geier Director of Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence (2010-2015).

A graduate of the University of Padua (Italy), where he studied Classics and French, he taught Italian Literature in France and Italy (1964-68), and the United Kingdom (1968-1995) before joining Harvard in 1995 as Professor of Italian Literature in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. At Harvard, he served as House Master of Eliot House for ten years (2000-2010) and was named Harvard College Professor in 2005, a special recognition awarded to faculty members who devote time and energy especially to teaching undergraduates. From 2010 to 2015 he was the director of Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. He has published essays on the French and Italian Renaissance, in particular on Montaigne and French travellers to Italy. His research has focused on the Latin and Italian Middle Ages (Dante), the Renaissance (Bembo and Trifon Gabriele), and 20th century Italian literature (Pavese and the contemporary novel).

His books on Dante include the critical edition of the 16th century commentary Annotationi nel Dante fatte con M. Triphon Gabriele (Bologna: Commissione per i testi di lingua, 1993), and the volumes La puttana e il gigante: dal Cantico dei Cantici al Paradiso terrestre di Dante (Ravenna: Longo, 1998; Premio Zingarelli), and La punta del disio. Semantica del desiderio nella Commedia (Florence: Cadmo, 2005). He has coedited, and contributed to, various volumes on Italian literature from Dante to the 20th century, including The New Italian Novel (Edinburgh University Press, 1993, paperback 1998), The Cambridge History of Italian Literature (1996; paperback 1999) and Dante in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Among his most recent essays, Songs Beyond Mankind: Poetry and the Lager from Dante to Primo Levi (Binghamton: Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, 2013).

Key Texts
Sydney Ideas continues the Key Texts series co-presented with the Sydney Intellectual History Network (SIHN) this year to bring you a series of talks following the tradition of the Key Thinkers and Key Concepts series. Key Texts invites our leading academics to discuss a text that has influenced their way of thinking. By text, we conceive of this in the widest possible sense to include not only the written word in book form, but a work of art or a building, a legal case or decision, rituals and aural traditions, a medical or scientific model. For more information on the series see this page.


Past 2016 Public Lectures

The Manifesto: from Surrealism to the Present

André Breton

Anonymous, André Breton, 1924

Associate Professor Natalya Lusty
Thursday 9 June 2016
6-7 pm

Law School LT 104, Level 1
Sydney Law School Annex
Eastern Avenue
The University of Sydney


Listen to the lecture on SoundCloud.

André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto (1924) is one of the most iconic manifestos of the 20th century. Defining “psychic automatism’ as a process that encouraged a freeing of the mind from rational and utilitarian values and constraints as well as moral and aesthetic judgement, Breton’s manifesto conceived of Surrealism as a revolution of the mind that would fundamentally transform everyday experience.

This talk explores how the manifesto became a defining genre of the artistic avant-garde and other political movements across the 20th century, from Futurism and Surrealism to radical feminist manifestos by Valerie Solanas and the Riot Grrrls. It coincides with Julian Rosefeldt’s moving image 2014-2015 artwork, 'Manifesto', which brings to life the enduring provocation of the historical art manifesto.

Click here to register

Natalya Lusty is an Associate Professor in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Surrealism, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (Ashgate, 2007), Dreams and Modernity: A Cultural History (Routledge, 2013), with Helen Groth and the edited collection, Modernism and Masculinity (Cambridge University Press, 2014), which was shortlisted for the Modernist Studies Association book prize. She has spent the last decade writing and talking about manifestos in numerous academic contexts and public forums and is currently completing a book on feminist manifestos.

Key Texts
Sydney Ideas continues the Key Texts series co-presented with the Sydney Intellectual History Network (SIHN) this year to bring you a series of talks following the tradition of the Key Thinkers and Key Concepts series. Key Texts invites our leading academics to discuss a text that has influenced their way of thinking. By text, we conceive of this in the widest possible sense to include not only the written word in book form, but a work of art or a building, a legal case or decision, rituals and aural traditions, a medical or scientific model. For more information on the series see this page.