IN THIS ISSUE
Fall Semester Courses
*a new section to our newsletter with updates from former students of Indiana University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Notre Dame and University of Pennsylvania
On August 29 BCSP welcomed in Bologna twenty-five students from Indiana University, Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Tulane University, University of Kansas, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin and University of Pennsylvania. Eight of these students are enrolled in the Fall semester, a new option offered by the program as of this academic year.
Within the first two weeks of September students found housing and, by the end of the month, completed the Pre-session. As of October they begin courses at the University of Bologna and at the BCSP office.
Special thanks to John Hooper (2010-2011 BCSP participant from the University of Minnesota) for the photo above of via Ugo Bassi at sundown.
FALL SEMESTER COURSES
The courses held at the BCSP office this semester include: Advanced Course in Italian Language and Society (Prof. Christine Dodd), The Italian Historical Transformation, from Unification to the Fascist Era (Prof. Fulvio Cammarano) and The Cinema of the Italian Economic Miracle (Prof. Andrea Ricci). At the University of Bologna students are taking a variety of courses, ranging from Italian Literature, to History, Political Science, Art History, Anthropology and even Economy and Business. Semester courses generally start on the first week of October and end just a few days before the holidays.
INTERVIEW WITH PROFESSOR GIANCARLO BENEVOLO
Professor Benevolo has been teaching Art History to BCSP students for six years. He is responsible for the Fall Pre-session Italian culture component and for the Spring semester course Art and Society in Italy from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
He is the Director of the Historical Archive and Department of Education at Bologna's Musei Civici d'Arte Antica, a network of city museums that includes: the Museo Civico Medievale (Medieval Museum), the Collezioni Comunali d'Arte (City Art Collection), the Davia Bargellini Museum and the Madonna del Monte (Napoleon's Villa Aldini).
A native of Bologna, he graduated from the University of Bologna in Medieval History, with a particular emphasis on urban society and art commissioning between the 13th and 15th centuries. His most recent publications include: the monograph Il Castello di Porta Galliera. Fonti sulla fortezza papale di Bologna 1330-1511 (Venezia 2006), an essay for the facsimile edition of the Book of Hours of Bonaparte Ghisilieri conserved at the British Library of London (Modena 2008), studies on Giotto and the cardinal Bertrand du Pouget conducted primarily at the Vatican Secret Archives (Milan 2005, 2010) and research for the exhibit and catalog Le Madonne di Vitale. Pittura e devozione a Bologna nel Trecento (Bologna 2010).
Q. BCSP students come from various universities. While some are Art History majors, others are approaching Art History for the first time. How do you make the course content accessible and stimulating for everyone?
A. At the very beginning of the course I try to learn about each student's academic background. In the first two or three lessons I explain research methods so that everyone has the same tools to work with. The objective is to make sure the students understand what I mean when we talk about history, the language of art and stylistics in class. The students learn how to observe and interpret art in its historical and social contexts.
Q. How do the students react to these first few classes?
A. The students that have not studied history or art history may or may not appreciate the initial structure of the course, but they do not express an opinion either way. Instead, the students that have already taken art history classes do not understand why the course begins with topics that seem strange or elementary. However, as of the third or fourth lesson, the topics that we have covered reveal their utility and complexity, and the students are clear on what is expected of them. Every year a student tells me that my course helps understand how to prepare for other university exams.
Q. How would you describe your course?
A. I realize that it is a challenging course because in addition to Art History we cover socio-political history and the history of criticism. However, I think this is useful for two reasons: first, to improve one's ability to observe and interpret art; two, to comprehend the development of Italian society that took place between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Q. What do you like most about teaching American students?
A. I enjoy the practical teaching approach. Through the years I've come to understand that an American student comes to Bologna not only to take exams and learn Italian but also to return home demonstrating to have really understood something about Italian culture. My course owes a lot to this orientation.
Q. Your courses involve excursions to the Italian cities of Ravenna, Urbino, Padova, Mantova. Could you comment on the educational benefits of students being able to experience firsthand the works of art that they are studying?
A. Seeing the works of art and the historical sites is fundamental. The students' knowledge improves very much after visiting cities and museums. Furthermore, not all American students realize that Italy is a country full of art and culture capitals.
Q. How would you describe the improvements that BCSP students make in being able to collocate Italian art in its historical context by the time they have finished your course?
A. The improvements are always rather slow and arduous because it seems that it is rather common for students to interpret art history phenomenons in an extemporal way. However, I've been pleased to note that each year more and more students by the end of the course are able to grasp historical evolution and are therefore able to collocate Italian art (from the Medieval and Renaissance periods) in the right historical and geographical context.
STUDENT HOUSING STORIES
Linsday is studying in Bologna for the academic year and, after having visited numerous houses, she decided on a single room (with a balcony) in via Mazzini, an elegant street just outside the center but close to the university area.
She lives with an Italian opera singer, who provides musical accompaniment while she studies, and a medical student from Naples, who often cooks delicious pasta dinners.
Dru lives in the picturesque Saragozza neighborhood, not too far from Bologna's soccer stadium.
She lives with a family, and, in exchange for free rent, she babysits and tutors the daughters, ages 8 and 11.
Dru is learning a lot of Bolognese-Neapolitan recipes by helping Beatrice (the mother, originally from Naples) prepare dinner.
STUDENT EVENTS AND EXCURSIONS
Tatiana studied abroad in Bologna for the 2010-2011 academic year. As a major in Art History at the University of Notre Dame, she participated in two internships in Bologna at the Davia Bargellini Museum and at the Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna (MAMbo).
At the Davia Bargellini (October 2010 - February 2011) Tatiana translated from Italian into English the museum's historical information and its guide to the permanent collection. She also gave two guided tours in English and in Portuguese.
At MAMbo (April - June 2011) Tatiana was an intern in the Education Department. Her tasks included assisting with Italian-language tours and workshops for children and adolescents, as well as setting up and taking down exhibitions.
Tatiana's comments on both internship experiences:
MAMbo was perhaps one of the most intensive Italian language experiences I've had this year abroad. I learned so much about how modern art is perceived and taught in a country as ancient as Italy. I felt that the work I was doing was appreciated and extremely rewarding. I also made a lot of friendships with the other Italian interns. It was one of the best experiences I've had in Bologna.
At the museum internship that I had in the US before coming to Bologna I did a lot of behind-the-scenes research projects. At Davia Bargellini and MAMbo I interacted directly with the public, implementing the museums' educational programs. Now, returning to Notre Dame for my senior year, I can say that I have seen both aspects of museum work, from inside the offices to hands-on activities with the visitors."
Joe studied abroad in Bologna with BCSP for the Spring semester 2011. He interned at Degusta, a nationally distributed food and travel magazine, and he worked at the Liceo Malpighi, a foreign languages and sciences oriented high school in Bologna.
At Degusta Joe wrote articles on gelato and on travel within Italy. He interviewed international chefs and gastronomic personalities, such as Robert Landolfi, a well-known gluten-chef and author in the United States, and Harold McGee, a food scientist and columnist of the New York Times. Joe also helped the editorial staff promote magazine-related events.
At the Liceo Malpighi Joe was an English language tutor for the Friday afternoon Speaking Club. He facilitated conversations between students in English
Joe's comments on both internship experiences:
Towards the end of the Speaking Club at Liceo Malpighi I could chat freely with the students, and there was a day that we went outside and played an Italian recess game that they 'translated' into English. The game is called 'Lupo mangia-frutta', the 'fruit-eating wolf', in which you pick one person to be the wolf, and the other people think of a fruit that they want to be. The wolf guesses different fruits. When he says your fruit, you run and he cases you. If he tags you, you become the wolf, who in turn eats more fruit. This was a really fun, cultural experience because my students spontaneously decided to share their childhood game in English with me."
Lauren Claps, Indiana University, BCSP Spring Semester 2009, worked at the Italian Trade Commission in Chicago after graduation. Recently Lauren has been travelling throughout Italy. She visited BCSP in Bologna in September.
Rodolfo Disi Pavlic, University of Notre Dame, BCSP Academic Year 2010-2011, is working on a doctoral degree in Political Science at the University of Texas at Austin. He is concentrating in Comparative Politics and Public Law, especially with regard to Latin America, but is also interested in International Relations and Methodology. His year abroad in Bologna and his cross-cultural experiences spanning from Chile, to the U.S., to Italy, helped him define his current academic achievements. Rodolfo also wrote that his Political Science courses at the University of Bologna with Professors Baldini and Panebianco also greatly influenced his career.
Hilary Johson, University of Chicago, BCSP Academic Year 2008-2009, wrote: "After returning from my year in Bologna, I began my final year of study at the University of Chicago. I wrote my BA thesis in Italian on the cultural, social, and political space in which immigrant authors write and in which their texts are read, focusing on the first work of "immigrant" authors Jadelin Mabiala Gangbo and Gabriella Kuruvilla. Both native speakers of Italian and of foreign descent, their first works were inevitably autobiographical in nature and explored the complex issue of integration in contemporary Italian society, not only for immigrants but for Italians of color as well. Since my return from Bologna, I have been back to Italy numerous times, primarily visiting the south and conducting research on markers of African heritage in the northeast corner of Sicily.
I have recently received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Brazil, set to start in early 2012, and I plan to continue my exploration of the Italian diaspora and immigrant experience in a Brazilian context. After returning from Brazil, I will enroll in a 2 year MA program at Tulane University's Stone Center for Latin American Studies, with a concentration on Brazilian studies.
I consider spending my third year in college studying at the University of Bologna one of the best decisions I have made, for it has been the catalyst in pursing what I hope will be a very meaningful academic and professional career in a wide array of international contexts. I hope to eventually become a Public Diplomacy officer for the Foreign Service, utilizing the linguistic and cultural skills that I have acquired during my time abroad, skills that were especially honed during the diverse experience of studying, living, and researching in the city of Bologna."