- Editor's Note
This year's issue of Italian Culture covers the spectrum of the Italian canon. We begin with an article on the Vita Nuova by Carin McLain, to then touch on the Renaissance ("Sacra Rappresentazione e Autorappresentazione nel Giovanni e Paolo di Lorenzo il Magnifico" by Marina Marinetti). After an article on Campanella ("Prometheus, Jonah, Christ: Tommaso Campanella's Self-Representational Models in His Philosophical Poetry" by Sherry Roush) and Carrie E. Beneš's "Mapping a Roman Legend: The House of Cola di Rienzo from Piranesi to Baedeker," we 'close the circle,' so to speak, with an analysis of reception of the Divina commedia in modern times with "Dante's Introduction to the United States as Investigated in Matthew Pearl's The Dante Club," by Cosetta Gaudenzi and Natasha V. Chang's reading of Umberto Eco's most recent novel, La misteriosa fiamma della regina Loana. Our book reviews also reflect the wide range of specializations housed in the AAIS, broadening the discussion to include analyses of works in film studies, Italian Americana, opera, and Italian society and politics.
In our rubric Scrivere Franco Cassano continues our discussion of the engaged intellectual we began last year. He sets aside the difficulty experienced by intellectuals when they attempt to analyze their own situatedness; he proposes instead an examination of the broader situation of all humanity in our age of 'globalization' and argues in favor of grass-roots movements that would afford individuals the opportunity to understand and resist what conditions and determines their lives. In contrast to Gramsci, who was primarily interested in the social and class-based nature of intellectual labor, and who viewed the "organic" intellectual as a key player in political life, Cassano sees the notion of organicity as incompatible with his ideal of the intellectual whose essential role is that of a completely independent 'speaker of truth.' He has been influenced by the history of 'really existing socialism' and other forms of totalitarianism, which he believes reduced the intellectual to being subservient to power. For this reason, therefore, he argues that [End Page vii] the engagement of intellectuals must not coincide with the aims of any particular political organization but rather with those of the enlightenment and freedom of all humanity. He leaves open for further discussion and debate consideration of the specific means by which progressive intellectuals might provide the popular initiatives he mentions with a liberating vision capable of guiding struggles against globalized capitalism and all other forms of oppressive systems of power.
With my best wishes for good reading, [End Page viii]