Summerfield leads Mediterranean Studies symposium

Published: August 27, 2021

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An international symposium on Mediterranean Studies was sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts in July, which was organized and led by Giovanna Summerfield, associate dean for educational affairs and director of the Auburn Mediterranean Studies certificate.

The symposium, held in Ortygia, Sicily, focused on providing an informal and conducive atmosphere of dialogue to further research and grant projects. Presenters were from an array of international and prestigious universities including the University of Cambridge, Yale University, Scuola Superiore di Pisa, Monash University, Georgetown University, University of London, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, for example. Together with Auburn University and its international partner University of Catania, Italy, presenters will have the opportunity to contribute to a special issue of the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies as well as to a collected volume to be published in 2022.

The symposium opened with the screening and discussion of a documentary by Giovanna Taviani, founder and director of the SalinaDocFest, and daughter and niece of the internationally renowned filmmakers Vittorio and Paolo Taviani (Kaos, Fiorile, Cesare deve morire). The symposium was held in Exedra Theatre, which was made available by the local mayor, Francesco Italia. Participants were treated to a guided tour of the small island of Ortygia, which is the historical center of the city of Syracuse, Sicily. Attendees enjoyed other cultural activities thanks to the talents of Alfio Patti, singer and poet. Sarah Stein, a prominent American historian of Sephardic Jewry, director of the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and holder of the Viterbi Family Chair in Mediterranean Jewish Studies at UCLA, closed the symposium.

Another symposium is in the works for the near future, and the immediate plan is to formalize the group and to lead a journal that will provide a venue to continue to collaborate intellectually and to promote awareness of this important geographical area.

Submitted by: Victoria Santos