My scholarly development went through 6 important stages:
– I was told in my primary school in Bergamo, Italy, that the aim of education is to know the world and to reflect upon the way one wants to act in it. I am grateful to those who made me and my class of 10 year old children put on stage George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and gave us the tools to ask questions about freedom, constriction and power.
– I was taught at high school, a liceo classico in Bergamo, that every form of comprehension of the present and the future is based on a comprehension of the past and what of it has been preserved and transmitted to later epochs as well as what of it has not been passed over: there is no continuity without discontinuity and vice versa. I am grateful to those at high school who gave me reason to be interested in ancient cultures, especially the Greek and Roman one, and in the cultural history of the world from what is called, according to Western perspective, the Middle Ages until Postmodernity – and I am grateful for the idea that a humanist approach to knowledge is an erudite rather than a specialized one: a humanist shall have general notions about the arts, history, languages and philosophy to inquire about the past. I was also told at high school that a humanist also needs general notions about the so called exact and natural sciences, from mathematics to chemistry etc., to make natural philosophy out of them. I unfortunately forgot most of what I learned about it, though… but I still have hope that I could be given a second chance to deal with these disciplines in my life!
– I expanded during my study of Lettere Moderne in Bologna my knowledge of various humanist theories of the 20th century. I am grateful to those who made me acquainted, in Bologna as well as in Leipzig and Prague during my studying abroad period, with one of the key topics of my future scholarly research: Prague and Czech-German cultural relationships. I thank them for letting me discover Franz Kafka’s Briefe an Milena and Milena Jesenská’s writing. I am also grateful to the ones who prised eclecticism in scholarly research during my university years, giving voice to an approach to knowledge that have been mine ever since.
– I began to make research as a young scholar in comparatistics and slavistics doing my international PhD at the universities in L’Aquila, Italy, and Leipzig. I am grateful to those who gave me the opportunity to combine my interest for Prague and Czech-German issues with my family’s past adding Trieste and Italian-Slovene relationships to my research fields. Trieste is one of the places in Europe where I like the most to sit down and read.
– I worked for ca. 10 years at the Leibniz-Institut für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europas (GWZO) in Leipzig, a research institute specialized in the study of the region of East-Central Europe, from the Baltic Sea in the North to the Adriatic and the Black Sea in the South. I am grateful to those at the institute who helped me understand that Prague/ Czechia as well as Trieste and its post-Habsburg surroundings are part of a larger and very complex imperial and post-imperial space whose humanistic understanding requires from me mobilising all what I had the opportunity to learn in my education years, from Antiquity to Postmodernity (and Orwell). I am also grateful to those who supported me in building up new research interests like the one in the (sub)cultures of resistance and the (partly related and partly opposite) topic of cultural icons (both of otherness and main streaming).
– I have been working for some years at the Department of Slavic Studies of the University of Leipzig (after a stimulating teaching experience at the Department of Slavic Studies at Humboldt-University in Berlin) teaching mostly Czech literature in its broader Slavic and East-Central European context and giving classes on theory of culture and theory of literature. I am grateful to everyone who is interested to teach with me and to be taught by me in all the things I had the opportunity to learn on my scholarly way in life… and to everyone who shares with me further learning, included the one in areas I did not focus on before like for example gender&queer.
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