Revisiting Giovanni Gentile's Political Philosophy

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Flaminia Incecchi looks at Giuseppe Parlato’s “Giovanni Gentile: From the Risorgimento to Fascism” from Telos 133 (Winter 2005).

Giovanni Gentile is one of many important philosophers that have been eclipsed by shifting fashions in modern academia. In becoming overshadowed, he now often is forgotten and to some extent shunned. After all, most philosophy departments have become increasingly polarized as their orthodoxies crystallize in the analytic or the continental camp, leaving them, in most cases, without much hope for dialogue. It seems useful to ask: Who should look at Gentile? Which philosophy department should engage with his thought? On paper, it seems that Gentile does not have much to offer to one sect or the other. This misfit quality is worsened and to some degree excused by the various ideological shadows that precede Gentile. At that point, Gentile’s ideological predispositions provide an indisputable alibi for the silence surrounding his thought. Most of his works have not been translated from the Italian, which limits his prospective audiences significantly. Of course, Gentile also is not at the center of academic disputes today in Italy.

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Renzo De Felice's The Jews in Fascist Italy: An Historical Appraisal

A panel on Renzo De Felice’s The Jews in Fascist Italy: An Historical Appraisal was held at the Calandra Institute on January 28, 2016. The panel included Frank Adler, Telos Editorial Associate and editor of Telos 164 (Fall 2013): Italian Jews and Fascism. Copies of Telos 164 can be purchased in our online store. Panelists explored the genesis of De Felice’s book and its place in contemporary historiography. Commissioned by the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities and published in 1961, it was the first study of the anti-Jewish persecution in Italy to reach a general audience. It was also a young historian’s first book on the Fascist era. This glance into a chapter of national history, that Italy had been quick to bury, set De Felice on a path to become one of the leading and most controversial scholars of Fascism. How was his attempt to capture an unsettling past received at the time of the book’s publication? What place does this book have in the current scholarship when many of its conclusions have been overturned after five decades of research on Italian state-sponsored anti-Semitism? And to which degree have the studies of Fascism and of the persecution of the Jews shed light on one another?

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Event Announcement: Renzo De Felice’s The Jews in Fascist Italy: An Historical Appraisal

Telos readers in the New York City area may be interested in an upcoming event at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute:

On the occasion of the paperback reprint of Renzo De Felice’s The Jews in Fascist Italy, this panel will explore the genesis of the book and its place in contemporary historiography.

Commissioned by the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities and published in 1961, it was the first study of the anti-Jewish persecution in Italy to reach a general audience. It was also a young historian’s first book on the Fascist era. This glance into a chapter of national history, that Italy had been quick to bury, set De Felice on a path to become one of the leading and most controversial scholars of Fascism.

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Scenes from the 2014 Telos in Europe Conference in L’Aquila, Italy

Whether you attended or not, you’ll want to see this wonderful collection of photos from the recent Telos in Europe Conference, held in L’Aquila, Italy, in early September. Below is a sample, but you can view the full set over at our Facebook page. And just a reminder, there’s still time to submit your abstract for the upcoming 2015 Telos Conference in New York. For complete details, visit the Telos-Paul Piccone Institute website.

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Gramsci and the Politics of Literary Criticism

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Matt Applegate looks at Arshi Pipa’s “Gramsci as a (Non) Literary Critic” from Telos 57 (Fall 1983).

Arshi Pipa’s “Gramsci as a (Non) Literary Critic” is more than a short biography and description of Antonio Gramsci’s inquiries into literary criticism. It also provokes the reader to meditate on the political conditions of literary criticism as an intellectual practice. Gramsci is a controversial figure in the history of literary criticism for at least two reasons, according to Pipa. First, his political work remains more prominent than his literary criticism. When one thinks of Gramsci as a writer and historical figure, his literary criticism might not even register, given his political writing and influence. Second, Gramsci’s politics serve as the impetus for his intellectual projects, thus also providing potential grounds to dismiss or ignore his aesthetic analyses. To be sure, Gramsci is a controversial political figure. In 1921 Gramsci co-founded and led the Communist Party of Italy in opposition to fascism, and was later arrested by fascist police under Mussolini, ultimately dying in prison in 1937. Perhaps his most famous collection of writings, Prison Notebooks, was completed while he was incarcerated between 1926 and 1937. Yet, it is precisely Gramsci’s controversial style and political will that draw Pipa to his work and allow him to question literary criticism as an enduring intellectual practice.

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Upcoming Telos Conferences in Australia, China, Italy, and the United States

The Telos-Paul Piccone Institute has several important events in the works for 2014, including conferences and symposia in Melbourne, Australia, Beijing, China, L’Aquila, Italy, and Irvine, California. At the recent Telos Conference in New York City, David Pan, Executive Director of the Institute, outlined the themes for this year’s conference.

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