When I ask my students at Monash why they are studying Italian, many of them reply ‘because of my Nonni’. Many of them have in fact learnt to speak (or at least understand) some Italian, while talking to their grandparents, who usually migrated to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s.
The teaching of modern European languages and cultures, including Italian Studies, was established within a frame that mirrored the identification of the Nation with its standard language and its canonical literature - which was almost exclusively written by white, middle- or upper-class men. This model worked on the assumption that such a structure would eventually result in a proud and stable national identity. Yet Italian identities and cultures have always been much more complex, unstable, and contradictory than such a simplified, nationalistic, classist and patriarchal model would like to admit. (Photo: Francesco Ricatti - Cassamarca Senior Lecturer in Italian, and coordinator of the Italian program at Monash University)