Wednesday, 28 July 2010
The Postmodern Palimpsest: Narrating Contemporary Rome
«What better place to await the end, to see if everything ceases or not?»
- Gore Vidal, in Roma
Keynote Speakers: Eamonn Canniffe (Manchester School of Architecture)
& Dr. John David Rhodes (Sussex University)
Saturday 26th February 2011, University of Warwick
CALL FOR PAPERS
The Rome of Federico Fellini’s eponymous film (1972), with suffocating traffic passing dazzling locations, and police brutality in enchanting piazzas; the Rome of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Mamma Roma (1962), with long tracks down shadowed streets and lively social gatherings masking potential violence: these images, though informed by converse ideologies, offer overlapping fragments of Rome’s ‘imagined geography’. The closing shots of Roma linger on dozens of mopeds fading into the distant black as they abandon the historical centre for an undefined urban sprawl. The sprawl, the latest metamorphosis of Rome, overlaps with historical images of the capital to form a shapeless identity, a fragmentary postmodernity.
Rome is privileged in its relationship with Western history, constructed over layer after layer, from Roman to Fascist ‘empires’: in this sense the city constitutes the urban palimpsest, with a deliberate void at the end. Rome is going through a time of change that needs to be theoretically framed: this conference aims to provide this through a multidisciplinary approach aiming to link together both urban and architectural analyses, and literary and cinematic ones. The classical palimpsest and the ‘modern’ Rome are overlapping with manifestations of the city’s postmodernity, such as the controversial new museum for the Ara Pacis (2006), the recent museum for contemporary art Maxxi (2010) and, in cinema and literature, ‘New Italian Epic’ depictions such as Il divo and Romanzo criminale. These images affirm a progression beyond Fellini and Pasolini’s ‘modernity’, though one with strikingly little critical attention. They aim to probe the above citation of Vidal, his conception of ‘the end’, and tentatively paint this as a movement towards post-history.
This conference will seek to address the following questions:
- Where present and past intersect and overlap synchronically, is it still possible to represent ‘reality’, or possible only to capture fragments of it?
- Can we still perceive the city as a ‘master narrative’, or do we need to challenge the notion of one city?
- How can the city be perceived in relation to Italian and to European landscapes?
- How does the image of Rome relate to contemporary global cities?
- How is this historical shift represented in global cultural products, and how do they redefine our perception?
Research methodologies are unlimited (urban & architectural studies, cultural theory, photographic and film studies, (art) history, comparative literature and anthropology etc.), and papers will be welcomed which engage with the city or with its representation.
Titles and abstracts (maximum of 300 words) for proposed papers should be sent in either English or Italian to the conference organizers, Dominic Holdaway (D.F.G.Holdaway@warwick.ac.uk) and Filippo Trentin (F.Trentin@warwick.ac.uk), by 30th September 2010.