CAS celebrates Carla Simonini, the New Italian American Studies Endowed Professor
In front of a crowd of a nearly 100 people, Carla Simonini, PhD, spoke poignantly about being a fifth generation Italian American and how identifying as with her Italian culture, didn’t come easy. She discussed the difficult navigation between being Italian and American, struggling with labels, and conflicts within definitions. She alluded to the multiple Italian American authors and scholars such as Richard Alba, Werner Sollors, Laura Ruberto and Joseph Sciorra, who underwent similar situations.
“Being Italian American in the 21st century encompasses not just where we’ve come from, but what we are capable of becoming,” she said.
Simonini was celebrated at a mass at The Ignatian House Chapel, Information Commons 4th floor and then a reception on Nov. 4. She gave a presentation prior to the reception where Arthur Lurigio, associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of criminal justice and psychology, Candeloro Dominic, adjunct Instructor of history, and Thomas J Regan, S.J., dean of the College were among the guests to celebrate her appointment as the first Paul and Ann Rubino Endowed Professor in Italian American Studies (IAS).
The endowed professorship is meant to build an IAS program among only a select group of programs in the country. Simonini will join the faculty of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and hopes the program will ensure that students receive a ‘well-rounded’ Italian American educational experience, including Italian language instruction, courses on history and culture, and exposure to the John Felice Rome Center. She also wants to expand the visibility of the Italian American Studies Association (IASA).
“To be an Italian, is not to shirk from internalized negative associations with Italian American culture, nor is it to cling to vapid nostalgia or hollow ethnic pride. To be Italian, Italian American, is to ‘know thyself’ as a descendent of a humble and generally disparaged people. Those who made very difficult choices and endured untold sacrifices in an effort to secure a better life for themselves and their progeny.”