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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)March 1, 2017

Dr. Stefania Lucamante

MAHWAH, N.J. – Noted scholar and teacher Stefania Lucamante provided a critical and lucid analysis of the works of Italian women writers in transmitting a gendered perspective on the devastating effects of Italy’s 1938 racial laws and the Holocaust. The program was held at Ramapo College of New Jersey on Thursday, February 23 and was co-sponsored by the Italian Club of Ramapo College. The Morton and Clara Richmond Endowment supported the event, which was attended by 85 students, faculty and community members.

Dr. Lucamante probed the complexity with which numerous literary works by Italian women on the Holocaust validate notions of collaboration and understanding between fictional writing and the (gendered) rewriting of historical events. Her analysis encompassed the work of both Jewish and non-Jewish writers as well as both actual survivors and their descendants. She rejected that notions advanced by some scholars that introducing gender into the discourse on Holocaust literature is a potential distraction. On the contrary, in her view, adding women’s literature as a component not only serves to highlight the unique experiences of women in genocide, but also delivers a composite picture that otherwise would be lacking. In this context, she noted that since literature, including memoirs, is reflective and participatory, it can make a profound contribution to our understanding of historical events.

“This definitely opened my eyes to Italian Holocaust experiences,” said Ramapo College Adjunct Professor Mark Miller, who attended the event. “Almost everything I’ve learned about the Holocaust was focused on Eastern Europeans and I never stopped to think about Western/Southern Europe’s horrors.”

Also new to Miller was the handicap Italians faced in terms of language.

“Not understanding Yiddish gave [the Italian writers] a ‘lower standing’ within the concentration camps inmates,” Miller noted. “Having no understanding of German meant that the German guards could not communicate their demands and most likely increase the death rate among the Italians.”

Dr. Lucamante was born in Sicily to Apulian parents. At the age of six, she moved to Sardinia, where she grew up and studied before moving to Rome for her graduate studies. She also lived in Milan and Berlin, Germany, before moving to the United States. After a curatorial training at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C, she studied Comparative Literature at The Catholic University of America (CUA).  In 2000, she returned to the CUA after teaching at Georgetown University. Currently, she is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature, teaching undergraduate courses in culture, literature and film studies.

Her primary research and teaching interests are in the literature and culture of modern and contemporary Italy, with a special focus on Women’s Studies, the genre of the novel, literary and visual representations of the Holocaust, and contemporary critical literary theory. Dr. Lucamante is the author of four books, including Forging Shoah Memories: Italian Women Writers, Jewish Identity, and the Holocaust (Palgrave 2014). Among the conferences volumes she has edited are Elsa Morante’s Politics of Writing: Rethinking Subjectivity, History, and the Power of Art (Fairleigh-Dickinson UP 2014) and Italy and the Bourgeoisie: The Re-Thinking of a Class (Fairleigh-Dickinson UP 2009).

 

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state's premier public liberal arts college. Ranked among the top colleges in the region by College Choice and recognized by, among others, U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review, Colleges of Distinction and, also designated by Victory Media as a "Military Friendly College," Ramapo College is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor's degrees in the arts, business, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education.

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