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Rome's Modernity: Trauma, Fracture, Narration


Click here for the full programme in pdf form.

Contact us at romanmodernities at gmail dot com.

Commentary on the city of Rome and the changes that it underwent during its modernisation has tended to foreground and underline the degradation of the city, particularly in relation to its glorious past(s). This risks leading to restrictive diachronic histories of the Italian capital, according to which the fractures and metamorphoses undergone by the city throughout the centuries produced an urban landscape in which the importance of classical tradition seems always to haunt the present. By genealogically analysing the legacies of nineteenth- and twentieth-century processes of modernisation undergone by the ‘eternal city’, our conference will interrogate the way in which Rome deals with the cultural fracture caused by capitalist modernity, from the moment in which it becomes the Italian capital in 1871 up to the present. Following Vittorio Vidotto’s call for a paradigm shift in historical Rome Studies, the conference seeks to establish the foundations for an archaeology (Benjamin, Foucault, Agamben) of the Italian capital, rather than looking at contemporary Rome as the outcome of an uni-linear history where past and present are articulated as dichotomic. Emphasising, comparing, and contrasting singular case studies, from representations such as the borgate of Pasolini to the postmodern rephrasing of the Gazometro, can help to map Rome’s modernisation and to discard the dialectical opposition between past and present.

By adopting an essentially inter- and multi-disciplinary scope, we welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplines, including (but not limited to) literary and film studies, urban studies, architecture, history of art, visual culture, feminist, queer and postcolonial studies. Possible topics may include:

- Analyses of the ways in which Rome’s multistable modernity has been portrayed, visualised and interpreted in literature, cinema, visual and performing arts, from the Italian fin-de-siècle to the most recent years, also including experiences of literature and cinema di genere;

- Attempts to configure continuities and discontinuities in the process of Rome’s modernity, from 1871 to the present (e.g. after the 1871 breach of Porta Pia, the 1922 March on Rome, the 1945 liberation from Nazi-fascism, the 1968 riots at Valle Giulia, the urban sprawl and the city’s current multi-culturalization, etc.)

- Theoretical reflections on issues of narration, portrayal and urban design, with specific references to such notions as those of fragmentariness, montage, haunting and survival, as well as the relationship between history and fiction;

- Experiments in reassessing the theme of Rome within the frame of such crucial experiences in intellectual modernity as Walter Benjamin’s use of fragments, Aby Warburg’s montage of images and his conceptualisation of a new science of culture (Kulturwissenschaft), Gilles Deleuze’s conception of the cinematic image-temps, the notions of rhizome, palimpsest, haunting, anachronism, survival.

The conference was organised with the support of the network partners, the Britis h School at Rome, The University of Rome Roma Tre, the Archivio di Stato di Roma, and the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Berlin.

For images of the event please see our facebook page, Roman Modernities.

Papers of the Conference:

Keynote Lecture: Kevin McLaughlin (Brown): City and Porosity: Walter Benjamin’s ‘Passages’

Panel 1: Reconfiguring the Urban Space

Eugene Pooley (Reading): Re-visioning Rome: the AACAR,Gustavo Giovannoni and Invention of Urbanistica in the 1920s

Alessandro Pes (Cagliari): Roma capitale dell’impero:tradizione e modernità nella Roma fascista.

Lara Pucci (Nottingham): Excavating the Nation: The Fosse Ardeatine in ‘Giorni di Gloria’ (1945)

Panel 2: Gendered Cityscapes

Keala Jewell (Dartmouth College): Rome from the Inside:The Androgynous Body in Ventroni’s ‘Nel gasometro’

Dom Holdaway (Warwick): The ‘Celluloid Closet’ and the Position of the Queer in Roman ‘Homosocial’ Cinema

Panel 3: Holy City

Scott Lerner (Franklin & Marshall College): The Narrating Architecture of Radical Hospitality

Allison Cooper (Colby College): Pasolini’s Sacred and Profane ‘Mamma Roma’

Panel 4: Shadows of Otherness

Derek Duncan (St. Andrews): Aman and Corviale: Rome and the Postcolonial Remnant

Loredana Polezzi (Warwick): From ‘frammenti’ to ‘sovrapposizioni’: Colonial Traces and the Map of Rome

Jennifer Burns (Warwick): ‘Not properly buried’: Rome’s Troubled Modernity as Observed by Migrant Writers

Panel 5: Re-Envisioning Modernity / Eschatologies

Jennie Hirsh (Maryland Institute College of Art): Baroque Modernism? Giorgio de Chirico and Postwar Pictorial Practice

Florian Mussgnug (UCL): Rome in Ruins: Revisited

Filippo Trentin (Warwick): Organizing Pessimism in Pasolini’s ‘Petrolio’: The Wavering Light of the Fireflies

Panel 6: States of Exception

Isabella Clough Marinaro (John Cabot, Rome): Modernity and the Spatial Management of ‘Nomads’: Rome’s ‘Neo-Ghettos’

Michele Righini (Bologna): ‘La Ferrobedò, o per dir meglio, la Ferro-Beton’: Riccetto-Stalker e i confini nella città

Catherine O’Rawe (Bristol): ‘Pijamose Roma’: Romanzo criminale: la serie and Disciplinary Spaces.

Panel 7: (Post)modernisms

Carmelo Princiotta (Sapienza, Rome): Roma in poesiadopo il 1968

Vasiliki Petsa (Peloponnese): Rome as ‘Subject-site’ and as ‘Event-space’: Reclaiming the City Space During the Years of Lead

Giorgia Gastaldon (Udine): Scuola di Piazza del Popolo:la Roma ‘pop’ degli anni Sessanta

Panel 9: Perceiving the city

Massimo Lucarelli (Savoie): L’Urbe modernista: Roma nella poetica e nella poesia di Giuseppe Ungaretti

Anneli Kõvamees (Tallinn): Pieces of the Mosaic: Constructing Rome

Francesca Congiu (Leeds): Architecture, Memory, Freedom:Carlo Levi’s visions of Rome

Exhibition work:

Book Launch: Lesley Caldwell (UCL) Rome. Continuing Encounters Between Past and Present (Ashgate, 2012)

Photographic presentation Jacopo Benci (BSR): The ‘Monuments’ of Magliana.