The Center for Italian Studies was founded in 1985 by Stony Brook University Distinguished Service Professor Dr. Mario B. Mignone.
Dr. Mignone founded the Center in order to provide cultural enrichment that reflected the cultural heritage of the Italian and Italian American community on Long Island. For over a quarter of a century, the Center for Italian Studies at Stony Brook University has built a strong cultural bridge between the University and the community at large.
Through its active calendar of events and activities, the Center strives to be a gathering place for people with a variety of interests to meet and discuss new ideas and to share ongoing interests in Italian and Italian American Studies.
Existing Support of the Center
The Center supports its events through the generosity of the community and caring individuals. Through their generous support, the Center has accomplished much and in some cases, has made history on Campus and in the community.
The following are provided by external support from the community:
- Through grassroots fundraising it raised $1.5 million to create the Alfonse M. D’Amato Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, the first endowed chair in the College of Arts and Sciences.
- The Roberto and Palmina Mignone Fellowship in Italian and Italian American Studies.
- An endowment for a fellowship is being created, mostly through donations by Josephine Fusco, former Associate Dean of the School of Professional Development and volunteer in the Center for the past fifteen years.
- The Cavaliere Rick Nasti Lecture Series in Italian and Italian American Studies and the Dr. Joseph Tromba Lecture Series in Italian and Italian American Studies.
- Dr. Vito and Carolyn De Simone Endowment for a Visiting Lecturship in Italian and Italian American Studies
- The Francesco P. and Dina D'Alto Malgeri Endowment in Italian Culture
Activities of the Center
By striking the difficult balance by promoting and responding to the scholarly, intellectual and instructional needs of the University and by satisfying the cultural interests of the community.
Reviewing the history of the activities of the Center, it becomes evident that lectures, symposia, and international conferences are prevalent in each annual calendar of activities:
- The presentation of recently published books takes place with great frequency. New books bring to the public forum new knowledge and are the medium for disseminating fresh ideas. Such presentations not only offer authors the opportunity to reveal the fruits of many years of hard work and to share the excitement of their scholarly findings, they also provide the audience with the opportunity to interact with the writers and enter directly into the process of molding new ideas.
- Lectures by a variety of speakers (scholars, creative writers, journalists, representatives of different branch of government and judicial system, etc.) enrich our public forum with and create discussions on issues of great relevancy to a wider constituency. Last year, in preparation for a major conference planned for this Fall, we organized a series of seven lectures on the Mediterranean, in addition to the regular variety of other talks.
- Symposia and international conferences on a great variety of topics have become a trademark of the Center. From literature, to art, to music, to science, to international affairs, speakers from many parts of the world have come to Stony Brook to address issues of specific or broad nature. Since 1985 the Center has organized over fifty conferences and has brought to Campus a long list of great personalities (Italian Minister of Justice Clemente Mastella, Italian Ambassador to the UN Francesco Paolo Fulci, Italian writer and intellectual Umberto Eco, President of the Council of Europe Giovanni Di Stasi, President of Italian Senate Paolo Grasso, New York State Chief Administrative Judge Gail Prudenti, and many more). This Fall’s conference (The Idea of the Mediterranean: An International Conference to Explore What the Mediterranean Region Represented in the Age of Progress and What it May Represent in the Era of Geopolitical Realliances and Globalization) will bring to Campus for three days twenty four leading experts on the Mediterranean from five different countries and four Ambassadors to the UN from four Mediterranean countries and will have as keynote speaker Amara Lakhous, the very well known Algerian Italian writer.
Scholarly publications are also of great importance to the Center:
- While at Stony Brook under the Editorship of Professor Mignone, Forum Italicum has become one of the leading journals of Italian Studies in the world. In 2012 SAGE Publications became publisher and distributor and in 2013 ANVUR (Agenzia Nazionale per la Valutazione dell’Universita’ e della Ricerca) placed the Journal in “Class A”, the top rank for its quality of research. The middle issue of every year deals with specific topics/themes (Music and Italian Society, Economy and Literature, Italian Dialects, etc.) and has had special guests editors from different parts of the world.
- In 1987 Forum Italicum launched Filibrary, a book series. To date 42 volumes have been published dealing with a variety of topics: social issues, historical events, literary themes, specific writers and poets. Some volumes are the proceedings of conferences held at Stony Brook or at other universities.
The outreach program for community cultural enrichment is not less important:
- The Annual Concorso di Eleganza: A Celebration of Italian Vehicle Excellence and Beauty attracts students and members of our community. It is a show only for Italian cars (FERRARI, LAMBORGHINI, MASERATI, ALFA ROMEO, LANCIA E FIAT); lately we have also allawed motorcycles. It is a display of “art forms on wheels” to illustrate another form of Italian culture.
- The Annual New Italian Cinema Festival, in its tenth year, presents between 6-8 movies to the community. Scheduled on a weekend in fall, it attracts a large audience (being free of charge like every other events, it helps).
- Italian Language Classes for the community is another big draw. With a substantial donation from a member of the local community (Cohn Education Foundation), last year the Center started to offer Italian classes for children.
- Exhibits and talks on Italian regions and cities always attract large audiences. The biggest event of this kind has been “Sicilian Crossings”, an arrangement of 120 panels, organized in historic sequence, that portrayed the history of Sicilian emigration. It was first opened at Ellis Island with the participation of President Shirley Strum Kenny, State Senator Kenneth LaValle, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the President of Regione Sicilia, and the Director of the Center for Italian Studies. When the exhibit was brought to Stony Brook, it became one of the most popular cultural events in the history of the Campus.
- Annual Poetry Contest for Secondary School Students offered in collaboration with the American Association of Teacher of Italian (AATI), Long Island Chapter. In addition, the Center sponsors the Annual Essay Contest for Secondary School Students on Italian and Italian American Themes and Topics.