50th Annual Italian American Studies Conference Thursday, Nov. 2-Saturday, Nov. 4

Event Description

“Faith, (Ir)reverence, and the Italian Diaspora Fifty Years of Italian American Studies”

Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Road NW, Washington, DC 2008

November 2-4, 2017

The Italian American Studies Association (IASA) formerly the American Italian Historical Association (AIHA) celebrates its fiftieth year of academic inquiry into all things Italian and Italian American. In December 1966, a group of historians, educators, sociologists, and other interested persons met at the LaGuardia Memorial House in New York City and founded the American Italian Historical Association. Since then, the Association has grown exponentially to reflect the diversity of scholarship that now subtends Italian-American studies. The organization encourages independent thinkers, scholars, and academics, past and present, to help mark this milestone with their participation at the 50th annual conference in Washington, DC, November 2-4, 2017.

This year’s conference theme will focus on faith in all of its manifestations and will feature Dr. Robert Orsi as its keynote speaker. Dr. Orsi is Professor of Religious Studies and History and Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies at Northwestern University.


Title: “The Dangers of Italian Americans Reading (Besides Going Blind)”

Dr. Robert Orsi’s keynote address will discuss reading as an activity in Italian American homes and its impact on Italian American scholars and intellectuals.

Bio: Dr. Robert Orsi, the son of an Italian immigrant father and a Sicilian-American mother, was born and raised in an Italian and Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx.  He graduated from Trinity College in Connecticut and received a Ph.D. in 1982 from Yale University, where his dissertation became the basis for his first book, The Madonna of 115th Street.  He is also author of Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them; Thank You, Saint Jude: Women’s Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes; and several edited collections and essays. His most recent book is History and Presence(Belknap, Harvard UP, 2016).  Dr. Orsi has taught at L’Universitá degli Studi di Roma, Fordham University, Indiana University, and Harvard University.  He is now at Northwestern University, where he is the first holder of the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies.  Dr. Orsi studies American religious history and contemporary practice and American Catholicism in both its historical and ethnographic perspective.  He is also widely recognized for his work on theory and method for the study of religion.  Dr. Orsi is a fellowship recipient of the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.  In 2016-2017, he was the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.


Event Details

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