21 March 2010
[…] After graduating from high school in June 1975 with less than distinguished marks (42 over 60), it took me a few years to figure out what my eventual path would be.
First I enrolled as a Sociology student at the Faculty of Education of the University of Rome (in the Italian higher education system, up until 1995 the faculty of ‘Magistero’ offered a degree in education). I thought sociology would provide me with an understanding of society and politics. But I got confused when I heard professor Alberto Izzo, who taught the History of Sociology course, saying that he didn’t agree on the very concept of what sociology was with his colleague, professor Franco Ferrarotti, the head of the Sociology course. And felt even more confused when in late November 1975 a Ferrarotti lecture was interrupted by a group of fourth-year students who read out loud a statement where they warned first-year students that they would never find jobs as sociologists in Italy.
By the beginning of the following academic year I had shifted to the Faculty of Letters and enrolled at the Modern Languages course. I spent the following two years taking exams in English and American Literature as well as Ethnology, but by the time I was supposed to choose the second language – I couldn’t decide between German and Spanish, languages which my father both spoke fluently – I realized I had no desire to pursue Modern Languages. I had become so interested in art than I decided to change again, this time choosing the Art History course.
Between 1978 and the mid-1980s I took a dozen exams in Art History, running the gamut from medieval and Byzantine to contemporary art, as well as exams in Iconology and History of cinema; and audited several more courses, from History of Chinese painting to Geography, and memorably a two-year History of French literature course taught by Luigi De Nardis, who did a close commentary of Huysmans’s A Rebours and A vau l’eau and sections of Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal, interspersed with Benjamin’s writings on Baudelaire and Paris in the nineteenth century. […]