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Call for Papers: Cultures on the move: Italy and the USA. Oxford, 23-24 September 2016

*Updated on 4 May 2016*

Oxford, 23-24 September 2016




This conference aims to provide a forum for discussion on the reciprocal influence between Italian and U.S. culture during the 20th century. This is a rare case in which a two-way process is at work: on the one hand, the transnational phenomenon of the cultural impact of Italian migration to (and return from) the USA, and on the other, the equally important phenomenon of the influence of U.S. culture on Italian society, with its peak in the post-WWII years of Italy’s “economic miracle”, the Marshall Plan and the so-called “Americanization” of Italian culture.

The theoretical core of our interest lies in the study of cultural change. As suggested by global historian Dirk Hoerder (Cultures in Contact, 2002) and geneticist Luca Cavalli-Sforza (L’evoluzione della cultura, 2010), a comparative study is the ideal approach in order to understand the complex development of human culture as a consequence of the mobility not only of people, but also of goods and values. At this conference we will concentrate on two areas which are not only central to the development of culture, but are of primary importance in defining the identity of human communities:

- Language: e.g. the influence of English (particularly U.S. English) on the Italian language and on Italy’s dialects, as well as other forms of contact between these languages; lexical borrowing; translation; the switching between, and mixing of, English and Italian (or any of Italy’s dialects) in oral and written communication; attitudes towards these languages, both in Italy and in the USA, including linguistic and educational policies.

- Narrative: e.g. literature and cinema as vehicles for the representation of the meeting of Italian and U.S. culture; the reception of U.S. literature and cinema in Italy and of Italian cinema and literature in the USA; the development of literary traditions in a transnational context; Italian-American folktale, fairytale and oral traditions; popular culture, including staged and musical performance; the relationship between the Italian and U.S. film and media industries.

This conference is part of a pilot research project sponsored by the University of Oxford’s John Fell Fund. It will include papers by three invited speakers – Prof. Giorgio Bertellini (Michigan), Prof. Teresa Fiore (Montclair) and Prof. Virginia Pulcini (Turin) – and by the three coordinators of the project.

For more information on the project please see our web page at

We warmly encourage proposals for individual papers on any of the above-mentioned areas of study, and we would like to privilege contributions that are particularly relevant to the study of cultural change. Papers in both English and Italian will be considered. Small travel bursaries might be available on request for postgraduate students and non-permanent members of staff. Interested contributors should email an abstract of about 200 words and a brief CV to this email address:

Deadline for the submission of proposals:  18 April 2016

Publication of Conference Programme: 9 May 2016

*Due to a high volume of submissions, the publication of the conference program will be postponed until the end of May.

The Organisers: Prof. Guido Bonsaver, Dr Alessandro Carlucci, Dr Matthew Reza

This conference is sponsored by The John Fell Fund and supported by Italian Studies at Oxford.