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Amos Oz
Renowned Israeli writer and peace activist Amos Oz delivers the Herman Wouk Visiting Lecture
Mandeville auditorium, April 22, 2013
Photo by Dirk Sutro, DAH

Upcoming Events

Anita Laing Memorial Documentary Project

URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to circumstances beyond the control of the San Diego Italian Film Festival, the documentary at the San Diego Central Library that was scheduled on March 30 must be postponed.

We sincerely regret the need to make this change and at this late date. Please check our Facebook page and other social media for updates as the SDIFF reschedules its documentary series.

We look forward to welcoming you to our whole Anita Laing Documentary Program, and we will reach out with our new schedule as soon as possible.

For more information


Anita Laing Memorial Documentary Project

Curated by Professor Pasquale Verdicchio

Sunday, March 30, 2014- Cancelled

(De) tour de seta, Detour De Seta

By Salvo Cuccia, 2004

Il mondo perduto

By Vittorio De Seta, 1954-1959

SD Central Library Theater | 2 to 4pm, free Library parking free 1st two hours

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sopralluoghi in Palestina, Location Hunting in Palestine

By Pier Paolo Pasolini , 1964

Appunti per un film sull’India

By Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968

SD Central Library Theater | 2 to 4pm, free Library parking free 1st two hours

Sunday, May 25, 2014

India, matri bhumi

By Roberto Rossellini, 1959

SD Central Library Theater | 2 to 4pm, free Library parking free 1st two hours

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ricordati di noi, Remember Us

By Paul Tana, 2006                                                                     

SD Central Library Theater | 2 to 4pm, free Library parking free 1st two hours

This second phase of the Anita Laing Memorial Documentary project connects our main festivals with a monthly series in partnership with the San Diego Public Library. ALL MOVIES ARE FREE.

Reception at the UCSD Faculty Club requires a ticket purchased online or at the venue.


Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP

Bill Lerach & Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach

Joe Vecchio


Visit our website or our Facebook page to find out more!




Jacobo Myerston: Thinking Across Networks: Naming the Cosmos from Derveni to Babylon

Jacobo Myerston: Thinking Across Networks: Naming the Cosmos from Derveni to Babylon

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Literature Building Room 155 (de Certeau)

Although it has become increasingly accepted that ancient Greek literature is genetically related to the literatures of the Near East, scholars of the ancient world continue to conceptualize literary criticism in classical Greece as being an independent achievement of the Greek spirit. In this presentation I provide evidence against this idea. Specifically, I explore this problem by investigating the Derveni papyrus, the earliest surviving Greek literary commentary, and its relationship to the literatures of ancient Anatolia and Northern Syria, as well as to the scholarly tradition of ancient Mesopotamia.  I argue that Greek hermeneutics and theories of signs, such as those that we find in the Derveni papyrus, developed in trans-cultural intellectual networks. Through a comparative approach, I will show how ancient critics operated in a large system of exchange and meaning production that was embedded in region-wide processes comparable to contemporary globalization. Finally, I will discuss the importance of cultural hybrids in the production of new ideas and models of interpretation in the ancient world.

Jacobo Myerston recently completed his PhD in Ancient Mediterranean Studies from the University of Chicago and received an MA in Classics and Comparative Religion from the University of Tübingen. He also studied Classics and Latin American literature at the University of Los Andes, Venezuela.  His areas of expertise include early Greek and Babylonian literatures and cultural history, as well as Latin America and the classical tradition. He is currently working on a book manuscript on Greek and Akkadian hermeneutic traditions, and has published on Greek and Mesopotamian hermeneutics and the Digital Humanities. He has taught in the departments of Classics, Philosophy, and Romance Languages at the University of Chicago.


The James K. Binder Lecture Presents: Serenella Iovino

Serenella Iovino: Death(s) in Venice: Bodies and the Discourse of Pollution from Thomas Mann to Porto Marghera  

The James K. Binder Lecture

The Atkinson Pavilion at the Faculty Club, UC San Diego

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Sponsored by UC San Diego Dean of Arts & Humanities and the Department of Literature

A reception will follow the lecture... Free and Open to the Public

There are many ways to imagine the death of a city. Death is the end of a cycle, both an episode and a rule in the ecology of matter’s transformations. Death in Venice can have many faces, and many names. It has the face and the name of Gustav von Aschenbach, the German nobleman who acts as the protagonist of Thomas Mann’s novel—or the face and name of Tatzio, his beloved 14-years old boy. It can have the face and the name of hepatic Angiosarcoma, a cancer form spread among industrial workers by the Montedison, a petrochemical factory located in Porto Marghera, just one mile from the city. It can have the face of the waters, and tides and fluxes of energy generated by global warming. These latter elements are coupled with the engineering systems implemented to control the ever-increasing high tides affecting Venice (the so-called MOSE barrage), with the unsustainable tourism of humongous cruise ships, and with the polluting activities normally caused by human everyday life in a delicate ecosystem such as the Venetian lagoon.

In this lecture I will concentrate on Venice as a text made out of embodied stories—a material text, in which natural dynamics, cultural practices, political visions, and industrial choices are interlaced with human bodies in issues of justice, health, and ecology. 

Taking literary works, theatrical plays, and “living” cases as my focus, I will show how ecocriticism can amplify the (often unheard) voices of Venice’s reality. This discourse is part of my current book project. Titled Ecocriticism and Italy: Ecology, Resistance, and Liberation, the book attempts to collect the "material stories" of some particularly dense places in Italy as segments of the vast ecological and eco-cultural horizon of this country. The idea is that, in this (local) scenery of (global) crisis, literature and critical practices enact forms of ecological resistance and cultural liberation.

A philosopher by training, Serenella Iovino is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Turin. President of the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment (www.easlce.eu) from 2008 to 2010, she is Research Fellow of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation. One of the most influential voices of European environmental literary criticism, she is author of four books and numerous essays, and serves in the editorial boards of several international journals and publication series on environmental topics, including prominent ecocritical journals such as ISLE, Green Letters, and Ecozon@. Among her recent works, Material Ecocriticism (co-edited with Serpil Oppermann, Indiana UP, forthcoming September 2014) and, as a guest-editor, Ecozon@'s Special Focus Issue on Mediterranean Ecocriticism (Autumn 2013). Her current book-project, titled Ecocriticism and Italy: Ecology, Resistance, and Liberation, is under contract with Bloomsbury Academics.

The James K. Binder Lectureship in Literature is made possible by Mr. Binder’s generous bequest and honors his wishes that we bring leading European intellectuals to UC San Diego to provide a forum for rigorous discussions of literary topics.


Common Knowledges Symposium 2014

Common Knowledges Symposium 2014

In conjunction with the 2014 Binder Lecturer Prof. Serenella Iovino and the sponsorship of the IICAS, the UCSD Center for the Humanities, and the Department of Literature


WEDNESDAY   MAY 14, 2014

4:30-7:30 PM

De Certeau Room, Lit 155

Presentations by Prof. L. Stern, Prof. M. Lollini, and  L. Ryan

Prof. Serenella Iovino, Respondent

Prof. Pasquale Verdicchio, Moderator


Prof. Iovino is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Turin in Italy. Her research focuses on all aspects of environmental literary criticism, endangered landscapes and cultural biodiversity. Her recent works include Material Ecocriticism (forthcoming), and Ecologia Letteraria, una strategia della sopravvivenza (2006). Iovino’s current book-project is Ecocriticsm and Italy: Ecology, Resistance and Liberation and is under contract with Bloomsbury Academics.

PROF. LESLEY STERN, Dept. of Visual Arts, UC San Diego

Tyres and Tomatoes: Writing the landscape.

Los Laureles Canyon runs between Tijuana and San Diego. The canyon connects and divides two countries, connects an informal settlement with a protected estuary, urban congestion with a restored natural habitat. Los Laureles Canyon has served as a laboratory for various disciplinary investigations—ethnography, ecology, urban planning, border studies.  Drawing on these approaches the presentation asks how might we write the story of the canyons and their inhabitants in that space where ideas of ‘landscape’ and conceptions of  ‘the garden’ intersect? How do we write ecocriticism?

Writing in the interstices between cultural studies, memoir, and environmental history, Lesley Stern expands the ways we see multispecies worlds. Stern will read from her genre-bending book-in-process, in which a natural/social landscape on the southern California-Mexico border comes to life as both cosmos and microcosm. Her dream-like work The Smoking Book (1999) has been described as “an innovative, hybrid form of writing…at once intensely personal and kaleidoscopically international.” She is Professor Emeritus in the Visual Arts Department UC San Diego.

PROF. MASSIMO LOLLINI, Dept. of Romance Languages, University of Oregon

Sicilian Ruins from Vittorio De Seta’s Documentaries to Vincenzo Consolo’s Cityscapes.

Vittorio De Seta's documentaries are considered masterpieces of world cinema. These films were shot in Sicily between 1954 and 1955 to document, with a certain urgency, the work of the tuna and sword-fishermen whose world was thought to be fast disappearing. Prof. Lollini will discuss these documentaries, along with De Seta’s later piece Sicily Revisited, made for Italian television in 1980, to address the dramatic ecological and cultural consequences of the ruins of that material culture.  The filmic analysis will be complemented with a reading of essays by Vincenzo Consolo, another great witness to contemporary Sicilian ruins in our globalized world.  In conclusion Prof. Lollini will consider how De Seta's documentaries and Consolo's essays speak to contemporary environmental debates and the search for a sustainable human relationship to the environment.  

Prof. Iollini is a graduate of the University of Bologna, Italy. He earned his M.A. and PH.D. in Italian from Yale University.  In 1992, he joined the faculty of the University of Oregon where he is now Full Professor.  His publications include Le Muse, le Maschere e il Sublime: G.B. Vico e la Poesia nell'età della Ragione Spiegata (Naples: Guida, 1994) and Il vuoto della forma. Scrittura, testimonianza e verità (Genoa: Marietti, 2001)

LESLIE RYAN, Dept. of Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University

Ecological Forestry and the Honorable Harvest:

The Blue River Landscape Study, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

Forest production and management practices have long focused on removing the complex diversity and fullness of the forest, replacing the mosaic of forest with monocultural tree farms that greatly advantage one species to the disadvantage of others. Ecological forestry is a new model of timber harvest that uses fire and leaves biological legacies of mature trees, which in turn can seed the next forest. The Blue River Landscape Study in Oregon's Central Cascade Range is an example of Ecological Forestry in practice. The existing, mature Douglas-fir forest was harvested with some trees left standing, and then using historical records of regional fire regimes as a guide, the logged landscape was burned. Dr. Ryan’s talk will examine the Blue River Landscape Study through the eco-cultural framework of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the concept of an honorable harvest. Indigenous knowledge of the honorable harvest has the potential to ground our relationship with productive landscapes such as the forest and the more-than-human world in empathy and the particularities of place.

Ryan received a research degree (M.E.D.) from Yale University’s School of Architecture. She is in the Forest Ecosystems and Society Ph.D program at OSU where her research focuses on science-art interactions.  Ryan is the recipient of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture (1995), and a Graham Foundation grant.


Prof. Verdicchio is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at UC San Diego. He teaches Cultural Studies, Film, and Environmental literature.  He is a member of the Mobile Knowledge and Cultures of the Commons Research Group.


Travels in Farangi Space: The Perception of Modern Space in 19th Century Persian Travel Diaries

Travels in Farangi Space: The Perception of Modern Space in 19th Century Persian Travel Diaries 

Vahid Vahdat Zad

Texas A&M University

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Literature Building , Room 155 (de Certeau)

Department of Literature , UCSD

“[Paradise] is only a fraction of this building . . .  It is the flower garden of Iran, on each side the beautiful branches and leaves of trees embracing each other and different flowers, while their leaves were weaved together, fresh and joyful; and colorful birds singing on different cords.”

This excerpt is from the diary of the Iranian traveler Aminoddowleh, written while he was in London in 1857. The poetic tone, metaphorical language, and Persian-classical literary style of Aminoddowleh’s description would lead most readers to envision an idealized Persian garden. It is therefore with some surprise that we learn that Aminoddowleh was describing Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, an icon of modern architecture built to house the country’s Great Exhibition of 1851. In Aminoddowleh’s memoir, this architectural marvel is astonishing not because it was world’s largest enclosed building, not because of its cast-iron structure, and not even for its innovative use of glass—but rather because it appears to embody the archetype of a Persian char-bagh garden layout and the related symbolism of Islamic heaven. This unconscious idealization of modern European spaces, that such utopian understanding of the modern world generates, is the topic of discussion in the upcoming lecture.

* Event is free and open to the public


Recovering the Arab Queer: How to a write a historical and "lesbian" novel set in 9th century Iraq (and why does it even matter)

Recovering the Arab Queer: How to a write a historical and "lesbian" novel set in 9th century Iraq (and why does it even matter)

de Certeau Room (155)

Department of Literature

Tuesday, April 22



Dr. Habib reveals the journey which led to the making of her novel, Rughum and Najda, and an infectious enthusiasm for same-sex love and desire in the Arab world of the first millennium. Her work revels in the timelessness of what makes us human, while paying attention to the particularities of place and time.

Bio: Dr. Samar Habib is an associate researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Habib’s work spans the publication of numerous articles and books chapters as well as several books, including Female Homosexuality in the Middle East (New York: Routledge, 2007 & 2009); Arabo-Islamic Texts on Female Homosexuality (New York: Teneo, 2009); I Am You (New York: Cambria, 2008); and Islam and Homosexuality (Oxford: Praeger, 2010).  Her creative works include two published novels and a chapbook of poetry. She was a co-founder and the General Editor of Nebula (2004-2011) and is a co-founder and publisher of African Nebula.

* Open and Free to the Public


Denis V. Volkov: Protecting National Interests or Advancing Imperialism: Russia's Persian Studies in the context of foreign policy towards Iran (1863-2014)

Denis V. Volkov: Protecting National Interests or Advancing Imperialism: Russia's Persian Studies in the context of foreign policy towards Iran (1863-2014)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


De Certeau Room (155)

Department of Literature, UCSD

Denis V. Volkov is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester, UK. His dissertation  ‘Oriental studies and foreign policy in late Imperial Russia and the early USSR: Russian/Soviet ‘Iranology’ and Russo-Iranian relations (1900-1941),’ explores the power/knowledge nexus in relation to Russia’s Persian studies during the late Imperial and the early Soviet periods. He studies the involvement of Russian ‘civilian’ (academic) and ‘practical’ (military officers, diplomats, and Orthodox missionary) orientalist scholarship in Russian foreign policy towards Persia/Iran. From 2006 to 2010 he worked in Tehran as the head of the Russian state-owned company ‘Technopromexport’, and from 1995 to 2004 he worked in the same company in Tehran as an interpreter and commercial expert. He majored in ‘Oriental studies’ (History of Iran, MA) at Moscow State University (Institute of Asian and African Countries) and ‘International Economy’ at the All-Russia Academy of Foreign Trade affiliated with the Ministry for Economic Development. His most recent publications are the article-winner of I.B.Tauris Prize “Persian Studies and the Military in Late Imperial Russia: State Power in the Service of Knowledge?” published in ‘Iranian Studies’ and the articles published at BBC Persian: “The Golestan Treaty and 200 years of expedient co-existence” and “The Persia of Nowadays, or How Russia forever lost Ukraine” (both in Persian). He has been a frequent expert guest at the BBC Persian TV, including the programs such as ‘Pargar’ and ‘Sixty Minutes’http://manchester.academia.edu/DenisVolkov

* Open and Free to the public


Ukraine, after the Maidan Revolution: A Discussion with Ukrainian Academics

Ukraine, after the Maidan Revolution: A Discussion with Ukrainian Academics

Friday, April 4 from noon to 2 pm at the De Certeau room (Literature 155)

The Socialism in Contexts working group and the Department of Literature present a discussion about current events in Ukraine, as seen from the perspective of two visiting Ukrainian academics.

Amelia Glaser, Associate Professor of Russian Literature (UCSD) will introduce the speakers and facilitate questions.

Taras Tsymbal is a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at the Global Studies Program, University of California in Santa Barbara and Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sociology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine). He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the latter university in 2009. Recently, a Mexican online project titled "Los Hijos De La Malinche" had requested Dr. Tsymbal to write a series of introductory articles about Euromaidan; the first article is already published in both English and Spanish.

Iaryna Tsymbal holds a Ph.D. in the History of Ukrainian Literature (2003). She works as a researcher at Shevchenko Institute of Literature, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Her office is located in the building which served as a flank defense for the frontline barricade of Euromaidan protesters and changed hands several times in the course of the three-month confrontation.

Email amglaser@ucsd.edu for any event inquiries. Please RSVP at http://humctr.ucsd.edu/

This event is sponsored by the Department of Literature and the Center for the Humanities


Debating Reform in Islamic Thought Conversation with Mohsen Kadivar

Debating Reform in Islamic Thought Conversation with Mohsen Kadivar

Friday, April 25, 2014


Literature Building Room 155 (de Certeau)

1:00-1:10pm Introduction Babak Rahimi (UC San Diego)

1:10-1:45pm Mateo Farzaneh (Northeastern Illinois University) “Placing Shi’ite Jurisprudence in Iranian Historiography”

1:45-2:15pm Bahar Davary (University of San Diego) “Egalitarian justice in lieu of deserts-based justice” 2:15-2:30pm Coffee break

2:30-2:45pm Introduction Ali Gheissari (University of San Diego)

2:45-4:00pm Mohsen Kadivar (Duke University) “Between Tradition and Modernity: Reforming Islamic Thought through Structural Ijtihad”

Sponsored by Program for the Study of Religion Co-sponsored by Burke Lectureship and UCSD Center on Global Justice

Open to the public