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"Living Italy" Course Offers Intimate Look at Disadvantaged Roman Neighborhoods

On November 17, 2010, the Living Italy class will travel to Tor Bella Monaca, one of Rome's most socially and economically disadvantaged areas. There, Dr. James Schwarten’s family has lived for more than two decades.

For several years, the name Tor Bella Monaca has been synonymous with illegal drug use and distribution, crime, and dismal levels of positive civic participation. However, in recent years, political support for the area has gleaned some modest achievements, such as the creation of a theatrical space (2005) and a dormitory for university students.

Experiencing firsthand one of Rome's "projects" or "ghetto" zones, students in the Living Italy course will be challenged to grapple with stereotypes of socially disadvantaged citizens and expectations of what constitutes the area's overall spirit. In this course, students are escorted through several areas of Rome, informed of the circumstances under which each area developed, and then asked to contribute their own insights to class discussions on such categories as commercial establishments, professional offices, gender relations, and places of worship.

Following the students' ethnographic encounter with Tor Bella Monaca, they will be invited to enjoy a traditional Italian meal prepared the professor’s aunt, Filomena. The students also will have the opportunity to meet with locals and practice their Italian language skills, as most residents have no English language skills.

About Dr. James Schwarten
Dr. Schwarten is a professor of Italian language, literature and culture and specializes in the history of Italian organized crime. He is currently working on a critical edition and translation of the epistles of Kristian Zahrtmann, one of the most renowned Scandinavian painters of the turn of the 20th century. Dr. Schwarten is collaborating with Dr. Lars kaerulf Moller, one of the leading Danish museum directors and scholars of this period in Scandinavian art.

Having established his own art school apart from the Danish Royal Academy, Zahrtmann spent several summers in Abruzzo between 1883 and 1911. His school gave birth to several influential artists who exceeded their master in terms of renown and, arguably, ability. His epistles have been collected and published, but are extant only in Danish. This work will be published in both English and Italian.
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