JCU's Italy Reads Goes to Scampia

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Naples is a city of many contradictions. Beautiful and rich in history yet sprawling and chaotic, it is a place where social issues like unemployment and high crime rates sit alongside the warmth and desire for change of many of its people.

On November 11th, Professor of English and Chairperson of the Department of English Language and Literature Carlos Dews, Academic Administrative Assistant Gina Marie Spinelli and three JCU Students experienced this first-hand when they travelled to Scampia, a suburb of Naples portrayed by Roberto Saviano in his bestseller Gomorra.

The trip was part of the 2011 Italy Reads, John Cabot University’s community-based reading and cultural exchange program. They met with students, teachers and academic directors from Liceo Elsa Morante. Students engaged in discussions and conversations about the novel chosen for the 2011 Italy Reads program – The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers.

The discussions went beyond the novel, with the students anxious to link their own sense of isolation as individuals and as a community within an image of their neighborhood that reflects a reality they would like to change. The students made great efforts to overcome any language barriers to express their ideas, and engaged in a stimulating, informative and thought-provoking debate.

The visit to Scampia was the culmination of a cultural exchange program between JCU and Liceo Elsa Morante. Six days earlier, its students and teachers had in fact visited John Cabot University, where they attended a performance of the book’s theatrical adaptation and met with the play’s producer, Gaby Ford from The English Theatre of Rome, JCU Italy Reads Volunteers, faculty and staff.

The Italy Reads program began in 2009, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for The Big Read Rome. The novel for the 2012 edition will be The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Professor Dews will be teaching course EN 346 – Study of the Works of a Single Modern Writer: F. Scott Fitzgerald during the Spring 2012 semester.