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Italian Culture Abroad: History, Roles and Expectations

Fabio Finotti is the Director of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, Acting Director of the ICI of Washington, D.C., Professor of Italian Literature and Culture at the University of Trieste, and Mariano DiVito Professor Emeritus of Italian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Finotti is the author of many books and articles on topics that range from the Renaissance to 21st-century Italian and European culture. In his works, he has devoted much attention to the notion and development of Italian culture after the unification, focusing on the regional, national, and transnational identity of Italian culture as well as its impact, projection, and perception abroad. Amongst his books more closely related to these issues, we can mention Una ferita non chiusa. Misticismo, filosofia, letteratura in Prezzolini e nel primo Novecento (Firenze: Olschki, 1992); L’Italia allo specchio. Linguaggi e identità italiane nel mondo, with Marina Johnston (Venezia: Marsilio, 2014); Italia. L’invenzione della patria (Milano: Bompiani, 2016). 

In this conversation, professor Finotti touches upon the historical impact of Italian culture abroad, particularly in the US, examining the roles, challenges, and effects of Italian culture overseas in a global context. He also reflects on the role of the humanities in the present transnational debate, as well as the differences or affinities between the American and the Italian systems of higher education, regarding the study of humanistic disciplines. Furthermore, Professor Finotti reexamines the importance of one of the most controversial and interesting protagonists of the 20th-century cultural exchange that involves Italy and America: Giuseppe Prezzolini.