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John Cabot University. Agenda Introductions About John Cabot University Italy Reads Program Details Overview of biographical details about the author.

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Presentation on theme: "John Cabot University. Agenda Introductions About John Cabot University Italy Reads Program Details Overview of biographical details about the author."— Presentation transcript:

1 John Cabot University

2 Agenda Introductions About John Cabot University Italy Reads Program Details Overview of biographical details about the author and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri Lunch Introduction to Film & Viewing: The Namesake (directed by Mira Nair, 2006)

3 John Cabot University, founded in 1972, is an independent, four- year liberal arts American university offering undergraduate degrees and study abroad programs to English-speaking students from all over the world.

4 John Cabot University, the first accredited American overseas liberal arts university in Italy, is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

5 Faculty: 100 faculty members with over 75 percent of non-language instructors holding PhDs, JDs, and MFAs from some of the worlds most prestigious institutions. Students: 900-1000 students from 40 countries including visiting students from prestigious universities across the United States; average class size of 15. Location: JCU has two campus, both in Trastevere; one on Via della Lungara and one on the Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio.

6 Began in 2009 with a grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts for a Big Read program. The success of The Big Read Rome led John Cabot University to expand this American cultural exchange program to a wider Italian high school community and create our own program which we called Italy Reads.


8 To provide high school teachers, book groups, and individual readers with the resources to read and consider the significance of great works of American literature and to encourage cultural exchange between the United States of America and English speakers in Italy through the discussion of American literature.

9 Dr. Carlos Dews, Associate Professor of English and Italy Reads Program Director

10 Ms. Gina Spinelli, Italy Reads Goddess & Coordinator

11 Ms. Alexandra Summers, Italy Reads Student Assistant & Coordinator of Moodle Course Ms. Lavinia Giannoni, Assistant Student Assistant

12 Ms. Livia Piotto, Reference Librarian, John Cabot Universitys Frohring Library

13 Italy Reads 2013: The Namesake


15 Participating teachers and their students will be invited to the Italy Reads Keynote Address: 6 November 2013, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Keynote Address by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, Aula Magna, John Cabot University, Guarini Campus, Via della Lungara 233 (Trastevere).

16 Participating teachers are invited to a teacher- training workshop with author Jhumpa Lahiri: 7 November 2013,Thursday,7:00 – 8:30 pm Workshop for Teachers, Aula Magna, John Cabot University, Guarini Campus, Via della Lungara 233 (Trastevere).

17 Italy Reads participating teachers and students may reserve a free group screening of director Mira Nairs 2006 film adaptation of The Namesake. JCU Italy Reads Volunteers will be invited to participate in post-screening discussions. To arrange for a screening of the film, please contact Ms. Gina Marie Spinelli at A DVD of the adaptation will also be available to participating teachers and book group leaders. Contact Ms. Gina Spinelli.

18 Participating teachers and their students will receive discounted tickets to the English Theatre of Romes production of Under the Overcoat, a theatrical adaptation of The Namesake. Performances of the play will be presented in November and will include nighttime and matinee presentations. See the Calendar of Events section of the Italy Reads website for days and times.

19 One of the key elements of Italy Reads is the interaction between JCU student volunteers and participating high school students. John Cabot University students will be available to visit schools to lead discussions of the novel in a student exchange program or students can visit JCU for a discussion of the play with our volunteers. To arrange for a student exchange please contact Ms. Gina Spinelli.

20 Participating teachers and book group leaders can take part in a day-long workshop about the novel, Italy Reads programs, and the use of the materials provided by Italy Reads. If you are reading this slide you are participating in just such a training workshop!

21 Through the Italy Reads website, teachers participating in Italy Reads have access to a wealth of supplemental electronic materials related to the novel. See the Resources section of the Italy Reads website: reads/resources-for-teachers.aspx

22 Through the Italy Reads website, book groups participating in Italy Reads have access to a wealth of supplemental electronic materials related to the novel and may be able to arrange lecture sessions with their groups. See Resources section, Italy Reads Website.

23 Participating libraries can receive a limited number of free copies of the official edition of The Namesake. Contact Ms. Gina Spinelli to request copies.

24 Teachers registered as official participants in Italy Reads 2013 will receive a free copy of The Namesake.

25 Students are encouraged to participate in the Italy Reads Student Video Contest. Students may produce videos that creatively represent the themes explored in the novel and submit the videos for judging by a panel of experts. 1 st Prize: 500, 2 nd Prize: 300

26 Students are encouraged to produce videos that are inspired by the novel. The themes of the novel include: cultural and personal identity, assimilation, family and relationships, tradition, coming of age, what it means to be a foreigner, love and other themes.

27 These videos can include music videos, a dramatized scene from the novel, a documentary consideration of one of the themes of the novel, or an impressionistic video in response to one of the themes. There can be no violation of copyright in the videos. Students are encouraged to be creative and innovative in their interpretation of one of the themes in their videos.

28 Two Sides of a Dream submitted by students of the V-B and their teacher Fortuna Pappalardo at Liceo Scientifico Statale 'Innocenzo XII'. Judges commented, This is hands-down the winner... They adapted the story in order to address a contemporary response to Gatsby and they did it with excellent production values, solid acting (particularly for non-native speakers of English), and editing that was well-paced. & &

29 The Great Gatsby submitted by students of the 9 th year and their teacher Anna Madden at St. George's British International School Rome. B7I&feature B7I&feature Shadows of a Page, submitted by students of the 12 th year and their teacher Anna Madden at St. George's British International School Rome. K0 K0

30 All students who appear in a video submitted to compete in the video contest must be from the same class at the same school. Classes are encouraged to submit multiple entries. Video recordings can be taken either using mobile telephones or video cameras. Submissions must be received by the deadline of 4:00 p.m. Monday, 20 January 2014. For complete Contest Rules see the Italy Reads website.

31 Opportunities for Italian high school students to submit articles about Italy Reads 2013 in English or Italian to student magazine. For more information contact Gina Spinelli or see



34 Jhumpa Lahiri was born in 1967 in London, and grew up in Rhode Island. She has travelled several times to India, where both her parents were born and raised. She graduated with a B.A. in English literature from Barnard College. As a child, she wrote extensive 'novels' in notebooks, sometimes in collaboration with friends. She wrote for her school newspaper, but had stopped writing fiction by the time she went to college. She applied to several graduate English programs but was rejected from all of them. While waiting to apply again, she took a job as a research assistant at a non-profit institution in Cambridge. ( Jhumpa Lahiri: Bio

35 LAHIRI IN HER OWN WORDS: For the first time I had a computer of my own at my desk, and I started writing fiction again, more seriously. I used to stay late and come in [early] to work on stories. Eventually I had enough material to apply to the creative writing program at Boston University. But once that ended, unsure of what to do next, I went on to graduate school and got my Ph.D. In the process, it became clear to me that I was not meant to be a scholar. It was something I did out of a sense of duty and practicality, but it was never something I loved. (

36 I still wrote stories on the side, publishing things here and there. The year I finished my dissertation, I was also accepted to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and that changed everything. It was something of a miracle. In seven months I got an agent, sold a book, and had a story published in The New Yorker. I've been extremely lucky. It's been the happiest possible ending. (

37 Among the first received in 1999 was the PEN/Hemingway award for the best fiction debut of the year. The title story, Interpreter of Maladies, was chosen for the O Henry Award for best American short stories. Lahiri was a recipient of the Transatlantic Review award from Henfield Foundation and the fiction prize from Louisville Review. The New Yorker has published three of her stories and named her as one of the 20 best writers under the age of 40. lahiri/

38 Eventually, Lahiri did enter Boston University, and received an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, and an M.A. in Comparative Literature and the Arts, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She currently sits on the Presidents Committee on the Arts and Humanities under Barack Obama. For the time being, Lahiri lives in Rome, Italy, with her family. Read More: lahiri/#ixzz2UFAQCI7z lahiri/#ixzz2UFAQCI7z


40 Her novel The Namesake was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist and was selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, among others.

41 The Namesake follows the Ganguli family through its journey from Calcutta to Cambridge to the Boston suburbs. Ashima and Ashoke Ganguli arrive in America at the end of the 1960s, shortly after their arranged marriage in Calcutta, in order for Ashoke to finish his engineering degree at MIT. Ashoke is forward- thinking, ready to enter into American culture if not fully at least with an open mind. His young bride is far less malleable. Isolated, desperately missing her large family back in India, she will never be at peace with this new world. (

42 Soon after they arrive in Cambridge, their first child is born, a boy. According to Indian custom, the child will be given two names: an official name, to be bestowed by the great- grandmother, and a pet name to be used only by family. But the letter from India with the child's official name never arrives, and so the baby's parents decide on a pet name to use for the time being. Ashoke chooses a name that has particular significance for him: on a train trip back in India several years earlier, he had been reading a short story collection by one of his most beloved Russian writers, Nikolai Gogol, when the train derailed in the middle of the night, killing almost all the sleeping passengers onboard. Ashoke had stayed awake to read his Gogol, and he believes the book saved his life. His child will be known, then, as Gogol.

43 Identity & Geography: Migration, Assimilation, Tradition Cross-Culturalism Loneliness / Isolation / Loss The search for & meaning of home Family & Relationships: Childhood Parenthood Coming of Age Love

44 As author Jaydeep Sarangi explains, "Jhumpa Lahiri's stories are the gateways into the large submerged territory of 'cross- culturalism'. [Her work operates as] a metaphor to share cultures...something that will allow them/us to share, instead of dividing, what is on either side" (117). As a popular young writer of Indian background, Lahiri is a sort of representative figure for non-immigrant Americans [and readers from all nations] who do not fully understand what it means to straddle the line between two cultures.

45 Although [Lahiris family] have lived in the United States for more than thirty years, Lahiri observes that her parents retain a sense of emotional exile and Lahiri herself grew up with conflicting expectations…to be Indian by Indians and American by Americans. Lahiri's abilities to convey the oldest cultural conflicts in the most immediate fashion and to achieve the voices of many different characters are among the unique qualities that have captured the attention of a wide audience.

46 From early on, she was conscious of her family's distance from the American life that was claiming her. [Lahiri states] "I felt intense pressure to be two things," she wrote in 2006, "loyal to the old world and fluent in the new... But my perception as a young girl was that I fell short at both ends." 21/saturdayreviewsfeatres.guardianreview5

47 Author Judith Caesar reasons that, "Americans can learn about themselves and create a richer system of values as a result of encountering the other foreign customs and ways of thinking of the Indian characters -sometimes without even fully realizing what they have come to understand or the opportunity they have missed" (90). But in some ways Lahiri herself struggles to understand Indian culture. In an interview with India-West, Lahiri admits: "I'm lucky that I'm between two worlds...I don't really know what a distinct South Asian identity means. I don't think about that when I write, I just try to bring a person to life" (Tsering B1).

48 "When I was growing up in the 1970s," she says, perched at the end of an enormous table in her British publisher's offices, "India was an unknown thing for most Americans. I felt that it was basically like the moon to them." Her family's regular trips to Calcutta earned her pitying looks from teachers and schoolfriends: "Like, 'Oh, your parents drag you all the way to India, how scary must that be?' And it was impossible to explain because there was nothing in the culture. There were no Indian restaurants, there was no Indian anything. Indians were a very discreet presence in those times. rdayreviewsfeatres.guardianreview5 rdayreviewsfeatres.guardianreview5

49 Both Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake contain themes of conflict in relationships between couples, families, and friends. Through these relationships she explores ideas of isolation and identity, both personal and cultural. The characters in both works frequently encounter crises of identity, which are tied to their inabilities to reconcile their American identity with their Indian identity. Particularly in the short fiction of Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri often leaves these crises unresolved. saturdayreviewsfeatres.guardianreview5 saturdayreviewsfeatres.guardianreview5

50 Writer Nalini Iyer feels, "Lahiri's strength as a story teller is characterization. The people she creates are real, alive, complicated, and individual. She never descends into stereotypes nor does she engage in grand generalizations about social and political relationships. Instead, she sweeps her reader through a range of emotions and experiences and lets her characters speak for themselves" (7). mpa.php mpa.php

51 "But nothing feels normal to Ashima. For the past 18 months, ever since she's arrived in Cambridge, nothing has felt normal at all. It's not so much the pain, which she knows somehow she will survive; it's the consequence, motherhood in a foreign land. For it was one thing to be pregnant, to suffer the queasy mornings in bed, the sleepness nights, the dull throbbing in her back, the countless visits to the bathroom. Throughout the experience, in spite of her growing discomfort, she had been astonished by her body's ability to make life exactly as her mother and her grandmother and all her great- grandmothers had done. That it was happening so far from home, unmonitored and unobserved by those she loved, had made it more miraculous still. But she is terrified to raise a child in a country where she is related to no one, where she knows so little, where life seems so tentative and spare."

52 JEFFREY BROWN: So identity is a big theme, in terms of being between two cultures, but also literally the idea of our names, the name of the book, "The Namesake. JHUMPA LAHIRI: Yes. JEFFREY BROWN: Tell me what's going on with that. JHUMPA LAHIRI: Oh, so many things. The whole book sort of grew out of a name, grew out of a particular name, Gogol, the last name of the great Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. And this name belonged to a young friend of one of my cousins in Calcutta.

53 I had always been aware of having an unusual name and the difficulties one faces living with a name in a place where it doesn't make sense or where it's, you know, unknown. But I started to think about why names meant what they did, depending on where we were, just sort of the relationship between identity and geography. And the book just kind of grew out of meditating on those ideas. /july-dec03/lahiri_10-16.html /july-dec03/lahiri_10-16.html

54 Terry Gross and the author discuss the novel The Namesake, the difficulty of writing, and the implications of the Pulitzer Prize: p?storyId=1420143 p?storyId=1420143

55 The Namesake arrived, in preliminary form, a few months after September 11, when I was a few months pregnant, in my first apartment on Prospect Park West. At the time I was struggling with another project. One day I pulled a binder off a shelf and looked at some abandoned chapters inside.

56 In the quiet of that apartment, which had felt so immense when we first moved in that my husband and I used to amuse ourselves, speaking to one another from different rooms and not hearing what one another said, I began to see the future of a book I thought was not meant to be, and to resurrect an idea I thought had died, printing out a slender but complete draft by winter. The desk at which I sat, the only real desk that, all these years later, I continue to own, was salvaged from the basement of that apartment. Like the manuscript itself, it was something cast aside, something neglected, which I felt compelled to put to use.

57 Q. In the new book, you explain that all Bengalis have private pet names and public ''good names.'' But the main character in ''The Namesake' is given only one name: Gogol, after the Russian writer. A. That happened to me. My name, Jhumpa, which is my only name now, was supposed to be my pet name. My parents tried to enroll me in school under my good name, but the teacher asked if they had anything shorter. Even now, people in India ask why I'm publishing under my pet name instead of a real name. Q. What does Jhumpa mean? A. Jhumpa has no meaning. It always upset me. It's like jhuma, which refers to the sound of a child's rattle, but with a ''p.'' In this country, you'd never name your child Rattle. I actually have two good names, Nilanjana and Sudeshna. My mother couldn't decide. All three are on the birth certificate. I never knew how to write my name.

58 Q. You've said that despite living virtually all your life in the States, you still find it hard to think of yourself as an American. Why? A. Mainly because my parents didn't think of themselves as American. You inherit that idea of where you're from. So calling myself an American would have been a betrayal. I continue to be hesitant to call myself an American, but I also feel hesitant to call myself anything else. Q. So you're not comfortable calling yourself an Indian, either? A. No, no. My parents told me I was an Indian, but going to India as a child made it apparent that I simply did not have a claim to either country. In the eyes of Indians who never left, I'm not an Indian at all. For complete interview see: 03-questions-for-jhumpa-lahiri-crossing-over.html 03-questions-for-jhumpa-lahiri-crossing-over.html

59 Please join us for a Bengali-(and The Namesake)-inspired lunch!


61 Nhg Nhg


63 Color is the stuff of life in the movies of Mira Nair, the Indian-born director whose newest film, The Namesake, follows two generations of a Bengali family from late-1970s Calcutta to New York City. Her lush palette lends her films a throbbing physicality that invites you to step into the screen and embrace the sensuous here and now.Mira NairThe Namesake, The story of upwardly mobile immigrants torn between tradition and modernity as they are absorbed into the American melting pot has been told in countless movies. This variation is gentle and compassionate. The longing for roots of these displaced middle-class Indians lends a soulful undertow to a film conspicuously lacking in melodrama.

64 The film has a crackling star performance by Kal Penn (from the clever trash comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle), who brings an offhanded charisma to the role of Gogol, the first- born child of Ashima (Tabu), a classically trained singer, and Ashoke Ganguli (Irrfan Khan), an aspiring engineer, who move to America in 1977 after their arranged marriage in Calcutta.Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle /09name.html /09name.html

65 In high school Gogol rebels from his family and behaves like a typical pot-smoking, rock-n- roll-loving American teenager. On a visit to Calcutta he sneers at Indian ways. After studying architecture at Yale, he falls in love with Maxine (Jacinda Barrett), a stereotypical blonde WASP princess from Long Island. Cultural tensions flare when he brings her home to meet his family, and the couple are expected to withhold any expressions of physical affection, according to Indian tradition. /09name.html /09name.html

66 Gogol eventually falls in love with Moushumi (Zuleikha Robinson), a beautiful Bengali woman who lived a freewheeling life in Paris before coming to the United States. His female counterpart, she is as culturally confused as he is, and the relationship runs into trouble. 03/09/movies/09name.html 03/09/movies/09name.html

67 07/03/08/movies/ 20070309_NAMESA ml 07/03/08/movies/ 20070309_NAMESA ml

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