Italian Program

Not Forgiving, Not Forgetting: Narrating Contemporary Taranto on February 14

This spring, our series of events opens with a lecture by Professor Monica Seger (College of William & Mary), entitled Not Forgiving, Not Forgetting: Narrating Contemporary Taranto. This event takes place in Gilman 479, starting a 5:15 pm.

The southern port city of Taranto has developed over the past 60+ years as one of contemporary Italy’s largest industrial centers, as well as one of its most polluted sites. The greatest contributor to Taranto’s industrial development, as well as to its toxic emissions, is the Ilva steelworks, first opened in 1964. Ilva-Taranto has repeatedly been fined in recent years for gross environmental violations, as it continues to emit harmful minerals, metals and approximately 90% of the dioxins produced in all of Italy. Area residents have suffered greatly from these toxins, experiencing significantly heightened levels of cancers and other illnesses. Remarkably, Taranto has also experienced a renaissance of creative narrative engagement, as artists, authors and filmmakers respond to the city’s eco-corporeal crisis in a wide range of expressive modes. I argue that active engagement with these narratives, which are both realist and otherwise, allows audiences to understand and think critically about Taranto’s environmental and human health realities – realities to which we are all, of course, susceptible.

Monica Seger is the Sallie Gertrude Smoot Spears Term Distinguished Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures for 2017 – 2020. Her research and teaching address twentieth and twenty-first-century Italian literature, film and media; the environmental humanities; and gender studies. She is the author of Landscapes in Between: Environmental Change in Modern Italian Literature and Film (2015), and she is currently working on a new project considering narrative expressions of toxic embodiment in contemporary Italy.