Photo of the crowd for Jhumpa Lahiri's visit to campus.


The 2022-23 calendar of events and activities


In line with past seasons, the current calendar is characterized by interdisciplinary programs presented in a variety of formats from lectures to workshops, screenings, concerts and Q&As. The programs are the result of dynamic collaborations across departments (Cali School of Music) and with outside institutions (Stony Brook University, St. Benedict’s Prep School). Topics include: the impact of art in social change and in trauma-focused therapy; relationships between Italy and Latin American countries; and the role of music in film about the Italian American community. The geography designed by these events takes us from Rome to Bolivia, New Jersey and the US West Coast.

Our international guest in the Fall is Afro-Italian rapper Amir Issaa, whose work as an artist has been increasingly paired with commitment to education and social change in very inspiring ways. His concert and his workshop give students and the broader community a chance to get to know these intertwined aspects of his professional path in direct contact with him, while also discovering his challenging personal trajectory and the role of rap as a therapeutic outlet for young people (and not only!). Two events in the Fall will be linked to a 100-student lecture taught on campus on a regular basis, “Italian Americans in film:” director Zach Baliva talks about his 2021 award-winning documentary Potentially Dangerous: When It Was a Crime To Be Italian which continues to inform the wider audience about the little-known experience of exclusion of unnaturalized Italians in the U.S. during WWII, as part of the Enemy Aliens Act. Author Mark Rotella (Director of the Joseph and Elda Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America at Montclair State University) gives a lecture about the role of music in Moonstruck, a film that has experienced renewed interest during the pandemic and whose soundtrack is a perfect opportunity to discuss the role of opera and music in films about Italian Americans more at large.

The Spring calendar opens with the screening of the documentary Ciudad de los Niños (2005) about an educational project designed by Father Antonio Berta in the 1970s to support abandoned or struggling children in Cochabamba, Bolivia. A panel including priests and volunteers who have helped create and run the project through the Catholic Diocese of Bergamo, Italy, as well as researchers who documented its history will address issues of the religious and lay education of challenged youth in dialogue with representatives from St. Benedict’s Prep School, a Catholic school based in Newark, NJ and open to students of different faith and socio-economic backgrounds.

Two research projects that involve students on and off campus continue to unfold: “Food, Hunger, Migration and the American Myth in Sicily at the Time of the WWII Allied Landingand Memoria presente: The Common Spanish Legacy in Italian and Latin American Cultures,” a digital archive linked to the course Italian for Spanish speakers developed in response to the federal designation of Montclair State University as a Hispanic Serving Institution. The Italian summer course for HS students for 2023 is confirmed with its rich offer of learning and socializing opportunities for HS students, while internships and scholarships are also available for students in the high schools and on campus.

Projects and programs count on the constant support of the generous Inserra family, which allows for constant expansion and innovation. The approach offered by the Inserra Chair is a holistic one that strives for organically bringing together research initiatives, teaching projects, and cultural activities in the service of several communities both on and off campus in the belief that the promotion of Italian and Italian American culture happens in multi-layered ways, with several stakeholders involved, and in a sustained way over time. Its efforts continue to be particularly focused on Italian Business/Made in Italy and Translation, following a path defined since the inception of this position and that over time has been able to make an impact on the curricular offerings on campus (see translation-centered courses in the Italian major and minor as well as the Language Business Culture combined major).

Thank you for supporting this vision with your participation and with the circulation of this information. We look forward to seeing you at these events (in person or on line)!