Italy Reads 2015 Welcomes Keynote Address Speaker, Professor Alessandro Portelli

Professor Alessandro Portelli

Professor Alessandro Portelli

Kicking off Italy Reads 2015 on Wednesday, September 23rd, John Cabot University had the honor of welcoming Keynote Address Speaker Alessandro Portelli, Professor of American Literature at the University of Roma-‘La Sapienza’. Italy Reads is JCU’s community-based reading and cultural exchange program that began in 2009 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for The Big Read Rome.

High school English teachers, their students, JCU student Italy Reads Volunteers and members of the JCU community were enthralled by Professor Portelli’s discourse. He enthusiastically introduced the various themes of this year’s Italy Reads novel, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes. Making Professor Portelli’s presence even more special was the number of familiar faces he had in the audience: many of the high school teachers participating in Italy Reads once studied with Professor Portelli during their university careers.

On Friday, September 25th, Professor Portelli returned to JCU to conduct a master class for teachers and group leaders in an informal exchange of ideas about how to approach The Bluest Eyes. The high school English teachers had questions about how to introduce some of the novel’s more mature themes to their students, who are primarily Italian and international students.

Italy Reads 2015 activities will include student exchange visits, theatrical performances by the English Theatre of Rome and the Student Video Contest for high school students. High school students are also encouraged to participate in Italy Writes (deadline April 1st, 2016).