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Primo Levi

Lectures by Francesco Ciabattoni and Giuseppe Tosi, Dept. of Italian, Georgetown University

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY 2012

Primo Levi’s Caged Narrative
Lecture by Francesco Ciabattoni, Dept. of Italian, Georgetown University

Primo Levi is known primarily for his novels about his ordeal
in Auschwitz. In 1966 he published, under a pseudonym, Storie
naturali, a collection of short stories with scientific and
sci-fi themes, apparently pieces of pure entertainment.
However, upon closer analysis, it becomes clear how much the
tragic experience of the extermination camp marked Levi’s
imagination and how deeply it affected his creative process
even when he turned to “innocent” and fanciful subject
matters.
FRANCESCO CIABATTONI is Assistant Professor of Italian at
Georgetown University. He received his PhD from the Johns
Hopkins University and directed the Italian program at
Dalhousie University. Among his publications are original
poems and critical essays in international journals on such
authors as Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Pasolini, Primo Levi,
as well as a monograph titled Dante’s Journey to Polyphony (U
of Toronto Press, 2010).

Primo Levi’s Auschwitz. The Creation of the Ontology of Sorrow
Lecture by Giuseppe Tosi, Dept. of Italian, Georgetown University

Primo Levi was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 and regained his freedom in January 1945. He described his experience in two of his most famous books: If This Is a Man and The Truce. However, throughout all of his literary production Levi not only provided his remarkable testimony of what the camp was for himself and millions of other prisoners, but also shed a light on the anthropological, political and ideological discourse at the origin of the conceptualization and the actualization of the Nazi final solution. Thus he has contributed to the analysis concerning the historical experience of the totalitarian state in the XX century, together with an epistemology of its ideological and political mode of expression.
GIUSEPPE TOSI gained his PhD at Johns Hopkins University and now teaches Italian at Georgetown University. He is currently working on a book on Primo Levi entitled Primo Levi’s Auschwitz. The Creation of the Ontology of Sorrow, a critical study of Primo Levi’s works and their interpretation through a political-ideological perspective.
He has already published two articles on the same subject, “Dall’attesa alla storia-esilio. La memoria e l’identità in Se non ora, quando? di Primo Levi,” (in Annali d’Italianistica, vol. 20, 2001: Exile Literature, ed. by D. Cervigni, pp. 285- 306), and “Cura del sé nello stato di eccezione: La tregua di Primo Levi” (in Rivista di Studi Italiani, XXII, 2, dicembre 2004, pp. 121-140).

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