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Transnational Italian Studies Hosts 'Understanding Primo Levi' Symposium

April 6, 2022
Bryn Mawr College Photo Archives: Nicholas Patruno performing, with colleagues, ‘L’Apres Midriff d'un Faune' with Laboratory Performance by the Ballet Rustique de Montparnass" as part of the 1979 Faculty Show "Curriculi, Curricula!" at Bryn Mawr

On Friday, April 22, Bryn Mawr College’s Transnational Italian Studies department will host an international symposium on writer Primo Levi, one of the most widely-read post-World War II Italian writers, thinkers, and cultural influencers.  

The event will be held in memory of Professor Emeritus Nicholas Patruno (1941-2020), a distinguished scholar of Primo Levi's work. In Understanding Primo Levi Patruno defines Levi as a writer of "encyclopedic vein" and argues that Levi's significance as an artist and communicator lies in the fusion of his scientific sensibilities and literary creativity.

The symposium is open to the public and will be held all day, starting with presentations from distinguished scholars about Primo Levi’s literary works. Joining the department of Transnational Italian Studies' Roberta Ricci and Alessandro Giammei, whose presentation is titled "Come lavorava Nicholas Patruno (How Nicholas Patruno Worked): Methods, Practices and Perspectives," will be Millicent Marcus of Yale University, Julian Bourg, of Boston College, and Gaetana Marrone, from Princeton University. 

After lunch on Wyndham Terrace, sponsored by the President’s Office, the students of ITAL 313: Primo Levi, The Writer, taught by Ricci, will present their posters as the culminating project of the seminar.

Poster sessions by: Ava Blumer '24, Maia Carvalho '22, Elise DeBiasio '23, Camryn Karis-Sconyers '23, Joseph Lukner '25, Ava Panetto '23, Lake Sanchez '23, Olivia Schaffer '22, Eleanor Taylor '25, and Meenakshi Thirumurti '23.

The event will conclude with a roundtable discussion in which colleagues and alumnae will share memories of Patruno, professor in the Italian Department at Bryn Mawr College from 1969 to 2008.

Memories of Nicholas Patruno by: Nancy Vickers, Brunilde Ridgway, Nicola Gentili, Tommasina Gabriele, Marissa Golden, Azade Seyhan, Ute Striker, David Karen, George Pahomov, Darby Scott, Sofia Bella Vitale '14, Julia Farmer '99, Jessi Harvey '09, Emily Breslin Markos '04, Emilia Otte '18, Sharon Zimmer '70, Jessica Lee '08, Rachel Lavenda '08, Elizabeth Schwartz '08, Allison Galea '04, Patricia Rizzo '77, Emily Wiseman '11, Francesca Wiseman '81.

From the students of ITAL313: Primo Levi, The Writer

Primo Levi, a Jewish, Italian chemist from the city of Turin in northern Italy, is known primarily for his contributions to Holocaust testimony and theory. Paradoxical as it may seem, the experience of Auschwitz and Levi’s need to recount, resurrect, and rebirth narratives of the Holocaust proved to be the initial impulse that drove him to continue to write until his death in 1987. His writing critically engaged with the Western classical canon and civilization that ultimately created Auschwitz. In addition to being a memoirist, he was also a columnist, novelist, literary critic, poet, essayist, translator, and writer of short stories, fantasy, and science fiction tales. The Periodic Table is widely considered his magnum opus. Thirty-five years after his death, Levi’s work continues to be theatrically adapted and performed, keeping his profound impact and legacy alive.

The Transnational Italian Studies Department at Bryn Mawr designs courses that mirror the transformation of the discipline towards a more inclusive field and motivates and supports students through mentorship programs to effectively give rise to positive changes.

Transnational Italian Studies Department


Read more: symposium webpage