I have always been engaged by the intersection of the sciences and humanities. As a young student in Italy, I learned to appreciate chemistry by reading Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table, which for me exemplifies the cohesion of science and literature. The elements and their combinations were not only about brute matter, but also about people, alive with their stories, memories, and miseries. And here, I found myself right in my element. There was never a rivalry between science and literature in my upbringing. I learned that creative thought and science are cultivated side by side, where the classics—Dante, Zola, and Thomas Mann, for example— were in constant conversation with the hard sciences.
French and Italian, MALS Program
- MALS, Dartmouth College
- Degree in Veterinary Medicine, Parma, Italy
Book: Ponit. Italiano Terzo millenio. (with E. Tognozzi, G. Cavatorta) Second Year Italian Language workbook, lab manual and website. Heinle-Cengage Learning: Boston, 2009. Second edition.
Book: Ponti. Italiano Terzo Millennio. (with E. Tognozzi, G. Cavatorta) Second Year Italian Language workbook, lab manual and website. Houghton & Mifflin: Boston, 2003. First edition.
Selected Works & Activities
In Summer 2014 in collaboration with Sarah Smith and the Book Art Workshop I launched a creative writing and printing project of a Prose Poem which, I hope, will serve as a model in foreign language teaching. I plan to expand this project, tentatively entitled From experimental to experiential writing, from the anecdotal stage to a more formally developed one, and possibly to include it in a cross-discipliary perspective research paper.
This project grew out of the creating writing workshops I conduct in my language classes. Adding the tactile printing experience enhanced my students’ competency, raised their language awareness, and began to move them from simple composition into a more literary production. This method worked even with students who did not have advanced control of the grammar or an extensive lexicon. My initiative emerged from my understanding that writing (not only) in a foreign language is a multi-sensorial experience that accommodates different ways of learning.
The physical manipulation of letter "blocks" gives my students the opportunity to incorporate in their learning process a new skill that eventually is transferred to more mainstream compositions.
My next experiential project happened rather serendipitously when my colleague, Bill Phillips, from the film department, asked me, this past March, to participate in the Italian and French subtitling of a festival documentary that profiles the life and career of the artist Sabra Field. We soon understood, however, that at least in Italy and France, dubbing is by far preferred by viewers, so we began planning that as well. This was a great opportunity to involve students, because the film presents, beside Sabra’s voice, about fifty additional speakers and their comments. This project, not a “dub” in the sense of a dramatic film, where you try to match the lip movements to the speaker, nonetheless forced the “actors” to fit the foreign language into the time allotted on the frame. The student participants thought the experience was very valuable not only for Italian language proficiency, in that they had to focus on pronouncing everything correctly and speaking as clearly as possible, but also for creative vocal expression and improvisation, whereby they used their creative license when the time frame wouldn’t allow them to translate word by word. They learned firsthand how proficiency in the language is interwoven with acting and speech skills, and I learned how rhetoric, speech, and acting are aspects of experiential learning that I would like to explore further.
I might also add that one of my passions is cooking. To me, food, like language, is the intersection point between cultures. It highlights the differences between “us” and “them” but also becomes the logical place to link us. It is a way, once again, to find the familiar in the unfamiliar, which is a consistent pedagogical feature of my teaching.