Lingue Migranti: The Global Languages of Italy and the Diaspora
April 25-27, 2013
John D. Calandra Italian American Institute
Queens College, City University of New York
25 West 43rd Street, 17th floor (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Manhattan
Italy as a cultural zone developed throughout the centuries with a plethora
of distinct languages. Regionally-based Romance languages—e.g., Neapolitan,
Sicilian, Tuscan, Venetian—and their local variants were the numerous
languages spoken by illiterate peasants as well as professionals, scholars,
and creative writers. In the aftermath of unification in 1861, the state
sought to impose the Tuscan dialect as the national standard in an attempt
"to make Italians” in the same period that mass emigration began in earnest.
Tensions emerged during that time and, with the onset of a more recent
immigration, continue to inform the interrelated spheres of language and
migration, from issues concerning standard Italian versus dialects,
especially along a north-south divide; to representations of "Italian” as
the esteemed language of the Renaissance versus the marginalized language of
working-class emigrants and their descendants; to responses to "foreign”
influences of vocabulary and literatures. This conference seeks to build on
the growing literature dealing with language and migration as it concerns
Italy and the diaspora.
Suggested paper topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
• The poetics and politics of "dialects”: The rapidly growing importance of
Italian dialects in the field of linguistics over the past twenty years;
• Non-Italian languages in Italy, from historic Arbëresh and Griko to
contemporary Arabic and Chinese, etc.;
• Italian government’s promotion of Italian language abroad, e.g.,
university programs, under Fascism;
• Italian language education (from pre-school to the university) and
literature (from Dante to immigrant authors), particularly outside Italy;
• Immigrant creole languages such as cocoliche in Argentina, Itaglish in the
• Slang and group identity, from criminal argot to youth idiom;
• Gendered uses of and approaches to language;
• The Internet and the media, e.g., enforcing standard Italian, translations
of film and television shows, diasporic communication;
• Artistic depictions of language use in music, literature, and cinema, e.g.
Farfariello’s comic music routines, Carlo Emilio Gadda’s Quer pasticciaccio
brutto de via Merulana (1947; 1956), Gavino Ledda’s Padre Padrone (1975),
• Ethnographic and sociolinguistic approaches to language use and speech;
• Italian diasporic and immigrant literature in Italy, e.g., John Fante in
Italian translation; Italian literature produced abroad (e.g., Alfredo de
Palchi); Amara Lakhous’s Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza
The official language of the conference will be English. All presentations
are to last no longer than twenty minutes, including audio and visual illustrations
that accompanypresentations. Thursday evening is dedicated to welcoming comments
and reception; sessions and panels will take place all day Friday and Saturday.
Deadline for submissions: September 16, 2012.
Abstracts for scholarly papers (up to 500 words, plus a note on technical
requirements) and a brief, narrative biography should be emailed as attached
documents, by September 16, 2012, to firstname.lastname@example.org, to whom other
inquiries may also be addressed. There are no available funds for travel,
accommodations, or meals.
We encourage the submission of organized panels (of no more than three
presenters). Submission for a panel must be made by a single individual on
behalf of the group, with all the paper titles, abstract narratives, and
For further information see our web site www.qc.edu/calandra.