Sicilian Ruins

Massimo Lollini presented a paper entitled “Sicilian Ruins from Vittorio De Seta’s Documentaries to Vincenzo Consolo’s Citiscapes” at the  Common Knowledges Symposium 2014, Seeing the Forest and the Trees: Culture, the Environment and Labor on Wednesday May 14, 2014 at the University of California in San Diego.

 De Seta shows how both the peasants of the land cultivating wheat and the fishermen – whom he calls “contadini del mare” (peasants of the sea) fishing for tuna or swordfish in the open sea – had found meaning and purpose in their life and sought their realization by means of manual labor. Their relationship to the sea and the land, partially mediated by rudimentary tools, was at the same time intensified by a corporeal and physical immersion in the natural element. Lollini complemented  the brief analysis of three of these documentaries – Lu tempu di li pisci spada (Time of the Swordfish, 1954), I contadini del mare (Peasants of the Sea, 1955) and Parabola d’oro (Gold Parable, 1955) – with a reading of “Tuna fishing,” an essay by great Sicilian writer Vincenzo Consolo who recently died. In the second part of his talk Lollini discussed De Seta’s new documentary filmed for Italian Television in 1980, La Sicilia rivisitata (Sicily revisited). This documentary bears witness to the dramatic ecological and cultural consequences of the ruins of the peasants’ material culture. Lollini paralleled the filmic analysis with a reading of “The ruins of Siracusa,” an essay by Consolo, another great witness to contemporary Sicily in our globalized world. Finally, in his conclusion Lollini considered how De Seta’s documentaries and Consolo’s essays are relevant to contemporary environmental debates on humanism and the search for a sustainable human relationship to the environment.

Natura parens

Prof. Massimo Lollini presented a paper entitled “Natura parens from Bernardus Silvestris’ Cosmographia to Petrarch’s Canzoniere” at the conference of the Renaissance Society of America in New York City on March 29, 2014, in a panel in honor of Prof. Giuseppe Mazzotta.

The paper was well received and triggered a lively discussion on how early humanist philosophy and poetry was pervaded by the idea of creative power of Nature as complement of human and divine creation.  Lollini showed in particular how Bernardus’s idea of natura parens becomes generative of elevating thoughts in Petrarch’s Canzoniere and instrumental in developing what Petrarch calls “more than human method.”

Lollini complemented the analysis of Petrarch’s poems with a reading of Petrarch’s letters and the analysis of some of the miniatures that illustrate the first printed version of Petrarch’s masterpiece published in Venice in 1470 (Inc. Queriniano G V 15). These miniatures are now available in the digital edition published by Lollini within the hypertext project Oregon Petrarch Open Book. In Lollini’s interpretation the miniatures suggest an uplifting reading of the Canzoniere that captures the fundamental role that nature plays in Petrarch’s masterpiece.

 

Miniature that illustrates Canzoniere 239

This paper is part of a broader research on the notion of a “more-than-human-humanism” that Lollini has been developing in recent years.