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Visions and Revisions Keynote: Between ‘Degenerate Utopias’ and ‘Areas of Florid Ruin’: Disrupted Topographies in the Italian Northeast

April 5, 2018 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

This event is part of Visions and Revisions: Romance Utopias and Dystopias, the 24th Annual Carolina Conference for Romance Studies. PDF of the flyer

In Iconemi. Storia e memoria del paesaggio (2001), Eugenio Turri and photographer Mimmo Jodice provide a poignant visual and narrative map of the Lombard Po Valley, recording its drastic transformations in recent years. More recently, the ISPRA Report on Soil Consumption released in June 2017 states that “Lombardy [. . .] confirms its status as the Italian region with the highest absolute values and percentages of consumed soil.” Inspired by Turri’s words and Jodice’s images, but also some of the work of David Harvey, another geographer who, in his Spaces of Hope (2000) paid particular attention to the (utopian & dystopian) transformative spatial dynamics of modernity and postmodernity, by Ursula Heise’s environmentalist approach to utopia, and by material ecocriticism, my presentation frames cement and asphalt in the light of the notions of utopia and dystopia, and discusses the centrality of these substances (also) in the current phase of Italian history. More in particular, I focus on two case studies: an ecocritical reading of Milan’s EXPO 2015 as both a material text and trope, (arguably a “degenerate utopia” to put it with Harvey), and a recent collection of short stories by Giorgio Falco (L’ubicazione del bene) which exemplify how capitalism continues to occupy and produce space.

Enrico Cesaretti is Associate Professor of Italian at the University of Virginia.

Sponsored by: The Department of Romance Studies – The Graduate School, College of Arts and Sciences – GPSF – Institute for the Study of the Americas – American Indian Center – Center for European Studies – Center for Global Initiatives – Art and Art History – English and Comparative Lit – Religious Studies – Women’s and Gender Studies – Medieval and Early Modern Studies


April 5, 2018
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm


Department of Romance Studies
View Organizer Website


Toy Lounge, Dey Hall
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