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Encouragement, Generosity, Sharing: “Melville and Rome” LAURA LÓPEZ PEÑA University of Barcelona “W hat a blast it was to be together and share.” These words of a dear colleague summarize my experience of the Eighth International Melville Conference. Intellectual stimulation, kindness, and friendship are the qualities I have encountered in these biennial gatherings. Even though I am a new member of the Melville Society, I have already realized that each conference is a new opportunity for inspiring academic exchange in the company of exceptional scholars from around the world. At the personal level, every Melville conference fills me with renewed energy and motivation. It also gives me the precious gift of spending time with fellow travelers. The 2009 Melville conference in Jerusalem was my first contact with the Melville Society, an unforgettable experience that allowed me to be embraced by a generous group of scholars whom I had long admired and, at the same time, to establish friendships that have continued since then. The Eighth International Melville Conference, “Melville and Rome: Empire–Democracy–Belief–Art,” was a truly international meeting with over ninety scholars and artists from approximately fifteen different countries. Since this was the first Melville conference in which I was presenting a paper, I regarded the event both impatiently and anxiously, for how was I to speak about Herman Melville in front of the Melville Society? All personal nervousness c  2012 The Melville Society and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 110 L E V I A T H A N A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L E S T U D I E S G E N E R O S I T Y A N D S H A R I N G dissipated with the pleasant re-encounter of old friends, some first met at the Jerusalem conference in 2009, the meeting of new ones, and the immeasurable support of an even dearer fellow traveler. From the moment it opened, the conference became another proof of generous scholarly exchange. The Centro Studi Americani, located on the first floor of a beautiful seventeenthcentury building, welcomed us on the first day, witnessing the pleasurable reunions and hosting the first keynote lecture and eleven panels in the middle of extraordinary library holdings and beautiful statuary and paintings. The rest of the days, the Università di Roma–Sapienza became the venue of the conference, allowing us to savor the lively atmosphere of the San Lorenzo quarter. The outstanding organizers John Bryant, Gordon Poole, and especially Giorgio Mariani—whose energy and permanent smile made our time in Rome a pleasant one—took care of every detail with promptness and good humor. Organizing such a big conference is a difficult and exhausting task, and this is why, once again, we want to express our gratitude to the organizers for having made possible such an inspiring meeting. The high attendance at all sessions every day (despite the tempting wonders of Rome) demonstrated both the excellence of the conference and the magnificent job of its organizers. I must also highlight the efforts and cheerfulness of graduate students at Sapienza (special thanks go to Pilar Martı́nez, who provided detailed information in the months prior to the conference), as well as their extraordinary initiative in organizing the “Melville and Rome” city tour and publishing a fascinating booklet. Remarkably, they managed not to lose one single sheep of their big flock in the labyrinthine corridors of the metro from the Vatican to the Colosseum. The conference featured three prominent keynote speakers: Prof. Dennis Berthold (Texas A&M University) delighted us with an analysis of Roman influences in the formation of American exceptionalism, writer Leslie Marnon Silko praised Melville’s denunciation of Native American genocide at the roots of U.S. nationhood, and Prof. Gordon Poole (Università degli Studi di Napoli–L’Orientale) regaled us with an analysis of Melville as poet. Finding the balance between academic rigor and an acute sense of humor, Berthold, Silko, and Poole’s lectures presented sharp insights that were of value to the discussions and debates at the conference. Panelists offered excellent papers on a variety of topics: cosmopolitanism, art, translation, poetry...


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