Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Hesitant (Yet Long-Winded) Comment on the Trial in Perugia

About the only thing I can write with certainty about the Amanda Knox trial is that I'm glad I wasn't one of the jurors. When I first read of Knox's conviction last Friday, I immediately considered exploring in writing the media coverage of the trial and the ways in which both Knox and the Italian legal system made such fitting targets for soundbyte-ing and stereotyping. I quickly realized that just about every other journalist and blogger had that angle covered. As I read article after article about the trial, glimpsed image after image of Knox being escorted from the courtroom, and watched testimony from Knox's mother and the family of the victim, Meredith Kercher, I felt less and less as though I had a clear opinion about any element of this two-year-old case.

Sollecito, Knox, and Guede

I do think that it is at least worth noting (to what ends I'm not yet sure, but I have some uncertain arguments in there somewhere), in terms of the rhetoric of this trial, that while the two other suspects in the case - Rafaelle Sollecito and Rudy Guede - also were convicted of taking part in the killing of Kercher, they nearly always only receive a sidelong mention in a larger report featuring Knox. This has been the 'Amanda Knox Murder Trial,' in spite of the fact that there have always been three suspects under scrutiny. There has been a lot less concern about the conviction of Guede (which occurred over a year ago) or the evidence produced against him. Guede, like Knox, is non-native of Italy, but unlike Knox, is a black man originally from Cote d'Ivoire. In all my poring over articles about this trial, I've learned slim to none regarding Sollecito (an Italian citizen), but I've seen the same video of Sollecito and Knox kissing and comforting one another ('inappropriately') around the time they learned they were suspects. And in a move that is well precedented, there has been little attention paid to the victim, Meredith Kercher, although she is often remembered in interviews as a good friend and sister, and a person who is dearly missed by those who love her.


I hesitate to boil the entire trial down to this, but I want to consider the point (and it's likely an obvious one): the media coverage here bears a striking resemblance to other cases in which young, white, blond, U.S. American women feature in one way or another. A ready example is the Natalie Holloway case - clearly different from the Knox trial in so many ways, but also illustrative of emphasizing one family's plight over the innumerable tragic cases that involve less camera-ready individuals and families. I make this observation not to devalue the tragedy of Holloway's disappearance, but to consider the media coverage in a slightly different way than the Knox op-eds have thus far. Concerns over the sensationalizing of Knox's gender have been explicated in numerous ways, however, this isn't only about Knox's gender, but her national origin, as well as her classed, raced, and sexualized identities, especially as perceived by international media that have offered strikingly similar reports of the case.

Monday, October 5, 2009

CAS in Rome 2010

Next summer's program info is up! Have a look see.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not Quite a Conclusion . . . Oh, and About Italian Wi-Fi

I've been back in the States for almost three months now, but studying furiously for comprehensive exams (I love that there's a Wikipedia entry about them), hanging out with this four-legged guy, and catching up on sleep kept me from notifying the five-ish folks who actually read this blog. My apologies to the small lot of you.

Anywho, I'm now in the midst of comp-ing (two down, two more to write), and as I was cramming a bit for tomorrow morning's set of questions, I couldn't help but take myself away from the intensity of the present task and check out some Rome blogs and related Italy Internet fun. In doing so, I happened upon a "Q&A" section of The American in Rome (linked to the right there) that has some great advice on Wi-Fi spots in the Eternal City and how to access them. Wish I had encountered this info sooner, but perhaps it will be a help to the person who just clicked "Next Blog" and ended up here randomly. Or maybe I'll get to make use of it the next time I'm in Rome . . . hopefully there is a next time in my future.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where I've Been/Where the Time's Gone

I've been a delinquent blogger this past week, mainly due to the fact that we've been wrapping things up in class and enjoying farewell social activities. I've also had my head elsewhere (mainly packing and looking ahead to my summer of studying for comprehensive exams in State College), so the blog was temporarily orphaned. I must say, though, although it feels like I've been busy, I'm not exactly sure where the time has gone. This is true not only of our last week here, but of the program overall. There are days when the brief semester here feels like it might last for seven months rather than seven weeks, but then you wake up one day and realize that you've only got about three days to check off everything on your to-do list and buy chintzy souvenirs.

Rome was especially beautiful after last weekend's thunderstorms cleared the air, leaving the skies a saturated blue and the clouds extra fluffy. I thought I had enough pictures of the Colosseum and Via dei Fori Imperiali, but all this city has to offer looks quite different in the cooler days following a good storm. That's why you're getting the gratuitous shot of one of the most photographed images in Italy (top left), and I don't feel the slightest bit cliché for including it.

I'm including one more photo, as all of the action that's gone down in Iran has not yet made its way into this blogspace, which I think is a significant absence but also difficult to work into the overall theme (sorry for all the clauses in that sentence). We passed this CGIL poster, which I can't translate fully, but basically expresses sympathies for and solidarity with the women and men of Iran, who have voted for change in the recent elections.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I See Right Through That Kimono (Not in a Gross Way)

The heat is still on in Rome, and when that's the case, I prefer indoor activities that include air conditioning in the cost of admission. I'm also a sucker for museums - I think it's because museums allow me to engage in one form or another of elitist escapism while simultaneously putting my rhetorical critic skills to work (think of it as scholarly self-flagellation infused with Catholic guilt - fun, right?). Today's museum encounter was no exception, as I laid out 9 euro (which, by the way, would've been 7 euro if I was under 26; a mini, just-over-quarter-life crisis ensued but ended quickly) for the Hiroshige exhibit at the Museo del Corso. The exhibit consists of ink and paper and wood block prints from the James Michener Collection at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (PA sidenote: the James A. Michener Art Museum is located in Doylestown, in Bucks County - Michener's hometown).

So I'll start with the escapism elements: the pieces themselves are simply displayed, complete white matting and plain wooden frames. The blues in some of the scenes are phenomenal - gorgeous stuff. And now for the critic: the exhibit is curated in such a way that you first walk onto a faux-Japanese bridge in a faux-Japanese garden, and silhouettes of human figures dressed in kimonos populate these scenes, although sparsely. The folks policing your museum experience, whom I usually expect to be wearing burgundy blazers and black slacks or some awful variation thereof, are instead dressed in pseudo-kimono inspired tops and black skirts. All of said 'policers of experience' are Italian women.

Further, visitors are invited to keep a record of their travels through each of the four rooms of the exhibit inspired by Japanese travel diaries (the best explanation of which I found here, after doing a basic search of the surface Web). You just pick up a blank booklet and a stamp in each room (the stamps are elements taken from Hiroshige's scenes) serves as evidence of your journey. Now you're faux-traveling like a real Japanese person. Here's the evidence of my journey:

Did I enjoy the exhibit? Most definitely. Am I a little weirded out by the presentation and abbreviated explanations of the ways in which visitors are to inhabit a particular moment in Japanese history and culture? But of course. Is this what it is to experience a conflicted trip to the museum with Mia? You betcha - and I didn't even touch the Michener stuff. So who's up for a visit to the Palmer when I get home?

Hiroshige poster taken from Museo del Corso website.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Bit of Lancaster in Rome

Yeah, I know. Doesn't make a lick of sense, does it? Please allow me to put this in context for you.

Lately, I've spotted some folks in Rome and also some celebs on trashy gossip sites (come on, what's a grrrl to do without trashy TV?) wearing clothes conspicuously marked with the logo Franklin & Marshall. For my Pennsylvanians, that name might ring a bell as Franklin & Marshall College, a small liberal arts school located in Lancaster, PA. Was I wrong to connect fashionable young Italians with small town U.S.A.?

It turns out I was wrong to think that there wouldn't be something wildly profitable in a Veronese clothing company that operates under the guise of promoting vintage, American, college style across the pond from the place where it was allegedly born (wait, why does it smell like Abercrombie & Fitch all of a sudden? I hate that smell). The creators of the F&M clothing line are a couple of Italians who were inspired to create the line in 1999 when they spotted a second-hand Franklin & Marshall sweatshirt a London flea market. According to Wikipedia, they almost didn't get away with their presumptuous branding, but the college decided not to sue and instead to accept a licensing fee from F&M clothing to continue producing cheeky sweatsuits bearing the name.

In a portion of the F&M clothing website entitled "The Heritage," the history of the clothing company and the college are strangely intertwined. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this fashion phenomenon, and when we happened by one of the F&M stores off of Campo de' Fiori this morning, I had to head home to do a little research. I'm especially concerned that a slightly edgier A&F has gained its footing in Rome (of all places! you can have your McDonald's, but leave your faux-vintage distressed hoodies to the college towns of the Big 10!).

Stores are peppered throughout Europe but conspicuously absent from Lancaster.

Top right: F&M store in Rome.

Different Ways of Seeing Rome

Over the past five weeks, our students have become intimately acquainted with Rome via countless hours and kilometers passed walking about, exploring, and getting lost in la città eterna. This morning, we capitalized on their knowledge of Rome's better and lesser known sights and asked them to lead us on two guided walks through our temporary hometown.

Although all of our students created walks, they were asked to limit our morning adventure to two. The lucky leaders were Nicole Arcidiacono, who designed a walk she titled "Rome on the Silver Screen," and Aimee Boyd who loves her gelato so much, she had to share it with the rest of the blogosphere.

The guided walking tour of Rome is one of the last assignments that students are asked to complete as a component of the Street and Studio blogging course. You can link to all of our undergrads' walking tours and maps (even those from last year's CAS in Rome group) via Dr. Benson's Rhetoric of Rome: Street and Studio page. They've come up with some unique ways to see this city - lovely additions to your own maps and guidebooks.

Top left: Aimee schools Dr. Browne about gelato.
Bottom: The gang at the Trevi Fountain, the last stop on Nicole's walk.