Commemorating one of Italy’s greatest thinkers − Umberto Eco
The Istituto Italiano di Cultura joined forces with three departments within the Faculty of Arts, University of Malta, to commemorate one of Italy’s greatest thinkers, Umberto Eco. Prof. Gloria Lauri-Lucente, head of Department of Italian and deputy dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof. Clare Vassallo, Associate Professor at the Department of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting Studies and Dr Jean Paul De Lucca, lecturer within the Department of Philosophy, joined the director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Dr Salvatore Schirmo in discussing some of Eco’s work in an interdisciplinary environment.
Dr Schirmo thanked the departments involved in the organisation of the event which endeavoured to remember Eco through a closer look at his work as a writer, an academic, a philosopher, a political and social critic, as well as a bibliophile.
Dr De Lucca talked about Eco, the philosopher, with a particular focus on the concept of time. In discussing Eco’s fascination with time, Dr De Lucca contextualised his concepts of temporality, especially through history. Although he was not an apocalyptic thinker and was not averse to technology, he was a strong critic of society and also strongly believed that books would never become extinct. Eco’s many collections of essays, in particular, show the full extent of his lifelong engagement with philosophy and its history.
Following Dr De Lucca, Prof. Clare Vassallo, gave a heartfelt account of Umberto Eco, the man and professor. Having been one of Eco’s students at Bologna University, Prof. Vassallo described how her mentor always loved to spend time with his students to discuss the most diverse and wide-ranging of subjects. His doctoral students would join Eco at one of his favourite cafeterias and continue discussing the topic of the day long after the lecture had ended. Prof. Vassallo also added that Umberto Eco was not only the first Professor of Semiotics in Italy but he also set up the degree programme of Communication Sciences and founded the Advanced School of Humanistic Studies.
The morning session was followed by a screening of JeanJacques Annaud’s acclaimed In the Name of the Rose. The movie was introduced by Prof. LauriLucente who spoke about the transposition from novel to book as a fascinating example of transformation, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Annaud himself, the set designer Dante Ferretti and the director of photography, Tonino Delle Colli. Prof. Lauri-Lucente added that the novel was a testament to Eco’s love of books, with its numerous allusions to other literary works. An interesting example of citationality is the lead character’s name; William of Baskerville, a definite nod to Sherlock Holmes, whose deductive method William also emulates.
The organisers ended the event by thanking the audience and by announcing that this is but the beginning of more interdisciplinary collaborations.
Prof. Gloria Lauri-Lucente (left) with Dr Salvatore Schirmo, director of the Italian Cultural Institute