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SLIM 2023 / Italo Calvino’s Animals


2023 Week of Italian Language in the World
Italian language and sustainability


Italo Calvino’s Universe
A lecture series on literature, ecology, arts and ethics

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Italo Calvino (1923-1985), the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, in collaboration with the Department of Modern Languages, Italian Program, at DePaul University, presents a series of lectures on exemplary and less known themes, from the vast body of work of the italian author, between fantastic elements and historical issues.


1/ Italo Calvino’s Animals: Anthropocene Stories
Conversation with Serenella Iovino
Friday, October 6 at 5:00pm CT
DePaul Art Museum
935 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago IL

What are the Anthropocene, an invasive alien species, and a superorganism? When and where did writer Italo Calvino encounter the ants and the gorilla that inspired his fiction? Why did Calvino dedicate essays to cats and goats? What do Calvino’s animals in an alley, an urban garden, a lab, a factory, and a zoo tell us about themselves and about us humans? And why should we care? Ponder these and other compelling questions on Italo Calvino’s writing and life on our planet in conversation with scholar, essayist, and environmental philosopher Serenella Iovino as she discusses her recent book Gli animali di Calvino: Storie dall’Antropocene (Treccani, 2023), the revised and expanded Italian edition of Italo Calvino’s Animals: Anthropocene Stories (Cambridge UP, 2021). Caterina Mongiat Farina (DePaul University) will lead the discussion with the author in English.

Free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

Serenella Iovino is Professor of Italian Studies and Environmental Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is author and editor of twelve volumes and over a hundred and fifty essays and articles. Her most recent publications are Gli animali di Calvino: Storie dell’Antropocene (Treccani, 2023, 1st ed. Italo Calvino’s Animals: Anthropocene Stories, Cambridge University Press, 2021) and Paesaggio civile: Storie di ambiente, cultura e resistenza (Il Saggiatore, 2022, 1st ed. Ecocriticism and Italy: Ecology, Resistance, and Liberation, Bloomsbury, 2016, winner of the MLA Prize and American Association for Italian Studies Book Prize). A philosopher by training and a public intellectual, she is among the leading animators of the international debate on humanities and the environment. She is a columnist of the Italian newspaper la Repubblica. Ph: Dino Ignani

Caterina Mongiat Farina (laurea, Università di Padova; PhD, Harvard University) is Associate Professor and Italian Program Director at DePaul University. Her research focuses on issues of language, rhetoric, and identity in Italian literature during the long sixteenth century and from the Postwar period to the present. She is the author of Questione di lingua. L’ideologia del dibattito sull’italiano nel Cinquecento (Longo editore, 2014); with Geoff Farina, the translator of Umberto Eco’s classic manual How to Write a Thesis (MIT Press, 2015), and with Paola De Santo, the editor and translator of Isabella Andreini’s 1607 Letters (Iter Press, forthcoming). Mongiat Farina’s articles on premodern literature and contemporary coming-of-age fiction appeared in journals such as Rinascimento, Stilistica e metrica italiana, Forum Italicum, Italica, Esperienze letterarie, and Strumenti critici. Her current research focuses on Italo Calvino’s use of metaphors and similes between human beings, animals, and plants and commonplaces of the bildungsroman to reflect on how to be human and embrace change as a constant process, beyond one’s formative years. She is collaborating with Paola De Santo on the Italian edition of Andreini’s Lettere.

The Week of Italian Language in the World is a yearly worldwide celebration of the Italian language and creativity. This initiative was born in 2001 in cooperation with the Accademia della Crusca. It is organized during the third week of October by the Embassies, Consulates, and Italian Cultural Institutes, with the support of the Ministry of Culture (MiC), the Ministry of University and Research (MUR), the Government of Switzerland and all of the main partners for the promotion of the Italian language.