In the midst of a long, cold Montreal winter, many of us dream of escaping the city’s grey, windy, and snow-covered streets for warmer climes. Some fantasize about sun-drenched countryside, fine food and wine, or the sand of Mediterranean beaches. Others imagine ancient ruins, medieval cloisters, Renaissance palaces, Baroque churches, art-filled museums, and the vibrancy of cities that have existed since the ancient world. Given recent budgetary restrictions at Canadian universities, it may come as a surprise that Concordia University’s Liberal Arts College is now offering brief, but completely free excursions designed to satisfy the appetites of all seeking mid-winter rejuvenation. Our destination is Italy!
That, at least, is the dream. Yet even if we remained in Montreal, the College’s Italian Cultural Circle is in its third successful season of seminars and films. Founded in January 2012, the Circolo offers more than mere mid-winter escapism; its meetings provide all Montreal italophiles with the opportunity to meet informally and exchange ideas, information, opinions, and enthusiasm for all things Italian. Our program of events seeks to maintain a balance between scholarly lectures and presentations with a broad appeal to a non-specialist audience.
The Circolo has hosted, and will continue to welcome talks treating all periods and forms of Italian history and politics, literature and music, art and film, food and wine, football and gelato. One of our stated goals is to explore the rich and multi-faceted nature of Italian identity and culture. Consequently, past presentations have treated Dante’s Divine Comedy; the poetry of Jacopo Sannazaro; Mussolini and Italian Fascism; the place and role of immigrant literature in modern Italy; the current state of Italian politics; and the history of Matera. We have also screened and discussed films including Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma, La Notte di San Lorenzo by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, and Ruggero Deodato’s Uomini si nasce poliziotti si muore. The screening of films is an important part of the Circolo’s program, and the College’s new audio-visual equipment will allow us to continue to explore Italy’s rich and important contribution to cinema.
Meetings are conducted in English to encourage the participation of Italophiles from all backgrounds. However, many in attendance are Italian-speaking and those who wish to practice their language skills in informal discussion are welcome to do so.
Our 2013/14 program is well underway and we are looking forward to presentations on art, literature, and history, along with the screening of more classic films. Everyone is welcome to attend, and if you would like more information on our program, or wish to be added to our mailing list, please join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/circoloitalianoconcordia/
Ciao a tutti!
Mark Russell, Liberal Arts College, Concordia University, Montreal