Italy @ 150: "Bridges of God and Bridges of the Devil: From Pontiffs to Walled-Up Wives," Prof. Thomas J. Harrison (UCLA)
Wed, April 27, 2011 • 4:00 PM • HRH 2.118 French and Italian Lounge
A Talk by Thomas J. Harrison, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature, University of California Los Angeles
The Pope is also known as the pontiff, or pontifex maximus—the master builder of bridges—and forging connections may in fact be the primary function of religions tout court. Still, few ancient bridges could be built without the help of the devil, and even John Milton calls the link between hell and the earth "pontifical." One of the more recent of these semantic transformations can be located in the "cultural war crimes" of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, where bridges once linking diverse ethnic communities were aggressively targeted by hostile forces.
Professor Thomas Harrison, whose previous book studied European expressionism in transnational context, will here examine the rich symbolism of the bridge in its conflicting manifestations from Virgil and Dante to theories of metaphor and the bridge brothers of the Middle Ages, to the novels of the Nobel Laureate Ivo Andric and Ismail Kadaré.
Professor Harrison has published major works that include 1910: Emancipation of Dissonance, Essayism: Conrad, Musil, and Pirandello, edited volumes including Nietzsche in Italy, and The Favorite Malice: Ontology and Reference in Contemporary Italian Poetry, and written many essays on topics from Italian cinema to European literature and philosophy.