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Research seminars: April 2011

Wednesday 13 April 2011
Comparative Literature Research Seminar Series
Prof Giulio Iacoli,
(University of Parma, Italy)
Celati and Parody
at 4pm in Buchanan room 216

Giulio Iacoli is Lecturer at the University of Parma, where he currently teaches
courses in Literary Theory and Comparative Literature. He has widely written
on the XXth Century fiction (Buzzati, Calvino, D’Arzo, Natalia Ginzburg, Siti,
Perec, Queneau, Guibert, DeLillo, Philip Roth) as well as on theoretical issues,
cultural and queer studies – often seen from a geographical perspective
(space and landscape, maps and mapping; the JFK assassination; Bergman,
Susan Sontag, Almodóvar; the image of the city in Italian contemporary
cinema and fiction). He is the author of two books, Atlante delle derive.
Geografie da un’Emilia postmoderna: Gianni Celati, Pier Vittorio Tondelli

(Diabasis, 2002), and La percezione narrativa dello spazio. Teorie e
rappresentazioni contemporanee
(Carocci, 2008). He has recently coedited a
book on the languages of obscenity (Verba tremula. Letteratura, erotismo,
pornografia
, with Nicola Catelli and Paolo Rinoldi, Bononia University Press,
2010). Among his present projects are a collection of essays on Gianni Celati,
and a theory and history of the representations of school life in literature.

The multifaceted parody: Gianni Celati between emulation and satire

According to Linda Hutcheon (1985), parody is to be seen as a struggle over
authority, the result of a commitment with intertextual play, by means of
which a text (B) alludes to an older one (A), while signalling a progress,
a critical absorption and recreation of A into its own form and content.

This theory of parody in form of a theory of influence may prove congenial
to the work of Gianni Celati (b. 1937): since his influential collection of
essays, Finzioni occidentali, which came out in 1975 – devoted to such issues
as the role of the parodic double in literature, the coexistence between
novel and romance, gags and comical repetition from the silent period of
cinema to the work of Beckett, the objets trouvés popping up from a modern,
mobile archaeology of the city –, Celati has been searching for a personal
answer to the questions of authorship and the relationship to tradition,
trying to cope with the modern and High-modern art system he describes.

His fiction may elucidate as much the complicated process of both assimilation
and subversion of the literary codes, which stems from his first book,
Comiche
(1971), a highly experimental novel, scattered into pieces, devoid
of any recognizable voice.

The process of fictional reconstruction which takes place in the following
decades, still deals with the possibilities of playing with form: parody regains
a prevailing tone, by reinstalling its ancient, strictly comical meaning in such
books as Avventure in Africa (1998), a mocking reportage dominated by the
satire of Occidental predatory style of thought and modes of representation,
and Fata Morgana (2005), a brilliant fictional interpolation of anthropological
observations, disguised as a collection of diaries, above an extraordinary,
unknown land, in the wake of Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

At the peak of a career lasting more than forty years, we may look back at the
path we readers shared with this excentric author, and then retrieve parody,
in his work, as a persistent, multifarious narrative device: Celati’s personal,
disenchanted and witty stance towards the anxieties of literary and editorial
system of our days.

Friday 15 April 2011
Italica/Italian Research Seminar
Gabriele Papadia de Bottini (Italian Consul General)
Italian Identity and Italian Unity: Cultural and Linguistic Background
at 4pm in Buchanan Building Room 216

Wednesday 27 April 2011
Comparative Literature Research Seminar Series 
Prof Shane Weller (University of Kent)
Towards a Literature of the Unword: Kafka, Beckett, Sebald
at 4pm in Buchanan room 216