Wednesday20Sep 2023

Ferrucci Institute - Windows to Italy Series

"Bridges of Life in Italy" a talk by Dr. Thomas Harrison

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. PST
2023-09-20 19:00 2023-09-20 20:30 America/Los_Angeles Ferrucci Institute - Windows to Italy Series Go to event listing for more details: LL 205 Henley Reading Room Dr. Federico Pacchioni

Free to attend

LL 205

Henley Reading Room

General Public

Everyone is welcome to attend

Beginning with the idea of the Italian peninsula itself as a bridge, this presentation ponders the powerful role of connection in Italian art and history, spiritually and conceptually, no less than practically and materially. From the very earliest days, a monicker for the pope was pontifex maximus (or master bridge-builder), indicating a way from this world to the next. The Ponte Sant’Angelo, one of Rome’s most ancient bridges, and widely thought to be its most beautiful, similarly led Romans from the living city to the tomb of Emperor Hadrian, transformed by his death into a god. Dante instead stresses the destruction of infernal, pagan, bridges at the end of the classical era. When waters are too broad to allow for a bridge, like those around Italy, migrants bridge them by way of boats. In wartime, bridges become violent flashpoints, as dramatized by scenes in Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). The poets Giuseppe Ungaretti and Eugenio Montale turn bridges into symbols of unspeakable elsewheres and all but impossible fusions, for humans, as the philosopher Simmel noted, are creatures who cannot separate without joining, cannot join without separating. It is a theme that resounds throughout the rich complexity of Italian culture, always outward-looking and always critically attuned to bridging life needs that are at mutual variance. 

Guest Speaker: Dr. Thomas Harrison

Thomas Harrison, Ph.D. is Vice Chair of Undergraduate Studies and Professor in the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies at UCLA, where he teaches primarily Italian literature and film. His most recent book is Of Bridges: A Poetic and Philosophical Account, with the University of Chicago Press (2021). He specializes in modern European intellectual history, literature, and the comparative arts. He also researches contemporary music, critical theory, aesthetics, and poetics. Other books to his credit are 1910: The Emancipation of Dissonance (a study of European expressionism) and Essayism: Conrad, Musil and Pirandello. He also has edited a volume of philosophical studies called Nietzsche in Italy and the eighth volume of California Italian Studies on contemporary Italian poetry, jointly with Gian Maria Annovi.

By clicking the Windows to Italy button on the right, more information about the series is available.

The Doy and Dee Henley Reading Room is located on the 2nd floor of the Leatherby Libraries. Please view the Interactive Campus Map by clicking the button to the right. Within the map, click on the "Buildings" option and scroll to the "Leatherby Libraries."




You can contact the event organizer, Dr. Federico Pacchioni at

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