Background image of mountains.

Research Assistantship (Summer 2018, Cali Fund for Italian Studies)

A fully funded food-focused research trip to Sicily for a student majoring, double majoring, minoring in Italian or pursuing the Post-BA Certificate in Italian at MSU has become available for Summer 2018 through the Angelo and Marie Cali Fund for Italian Studies. Apply now by completing this simple form here by the deadline of Fri March 9, 2018.

Woman in Sicily spreading the tomato pulp onto boards to begin drying in the sun.

The 10-day trip as research assistant will take place between the end of June and the beginning of July, 2018 (dates TBD with the selected student and the hosting institution) with all expenses covered (airfare, airport transfers, local transportation, class as well as room and board).

The program will include:

  1. Completion of two research components under the supervision of faculty (interviews with elderly local residents about food practices in the mid-20th century and archival work in Racalmuto at the Fondazione Sciascia);
  2. Attendance of a four-day class about food traditions, cooking, farming at the stunning Case Vecchie farm in the heart of Sicily, an example of traditional rural architecture hosting cutting-edge international projects about food sustainability (see Anna Tasca Lanza Sicilian Cooking School);
  3. Themed visit of Palermo linked to Manifesta and Capital of Italian Culture programs (public spaces revolving around cultural cross-pollinations in food practices, botany, architecture, etc. prompted by migration and relocation – see for ex. the Botanical Garden).

The trip is linked to a research project supervised by Dr. Teresa Fiore (Associate Professor of Italian and Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies), which was approved for full funding as part of the annual Cali Fund-related selection in the CHSS Dean’s office ($5,000), and will also be made possible by Inserra Endowment’s matching funds. The project revolves around a study of food availability and practices in Sicily at the time of the U.S. troops arrival during WWII to assess their impact on local mores. Connected to the novella “The American Aunt” by renowned writer Leonardo Sciascia exploring the entanglements of transnational migration and conflict in Sicily as they manifested themselves in food provisions and habits, the project entails different tools and methodologies (documents, interactive exchanges, hands-on experiences). The research results, in line with IRB standards, will be included in a future publication in which the contribution of the student will be fully acknowledged.

While no prior experience in interviewing or food science is required, preference will be given to students involved to some degree in the fields of filmmaking and journalism as well as food and nutrition studies.

For questions and more information, please write to