Annual programs

The Gay Talese Lecture Series

The annual Gay Talese Lecture Series was conceived of and is supported by the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) in conjunction with the Kelly Writers House. Each year for five years, beginning in 2000, the National Italian American Foundation will sponsor one public performance by an Italian American author of note, to be held at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. The writer's performance might include a reading, a lecture, a roundtable conversation, or some combination of the three events. A reception with the writer—for students, sponsors, and invited guests—will precede or follow his or her public performance.

The National Italian American Foundation is a national advocacy group that provides exposure to Italian culture and advocates for Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group. In 2000, NIAF launched two annual university lecture series, at the University of Virginia and the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2002, NIAF began annother annnual university lecture series at Villanova University. The Kelly Writers House Series honors the journalist Gay Talese, who was a visiting Fellow at the Writers House in the Spring of 1999.

October 24, 2005: Dana Gioia

Poet, critic, and best-selling anthologist, Dana Gioia is one of America's leading contemporary men of letters. Winner of the American Book Award, Gioia is internationally recognized for his role in reviving rhyme, meter, and narrative in contemporary poetry. An influential critic, he has combined populist ideals and high standards to bring poetry to a broader audience.

Trained in comparative literature, Gioia has been an active translator of poetry from Latin, Italian, German, and Romanian. He has published a translation of the Italian Nobel Prize-winning poet Eugenio Montale's Mottetti (1990) as well as two large anthologies of Italian poetry. His translation of Seneca’s The Madness of Hercules (1995) was performed by Verse Theater Manhattan.

Gioia's poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in many magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post Book World, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and The Hudson Review. Gioia has published three full-length books of poetry, Daily Horoscope (1986), The Gods of Winter (1991), and Interrogations at Noon (2001). He is also a long time commentator on American culture and literature for BBC Radio. Since February 2003, he has also been serving as chairman of the NEA.

The Penn Current reported on this lecture.

November 9, 2004: Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling author and her achievements have been recognized by universities and organizations alike. In addition to winning the Edgar Award, mystery writers' highest honor, Lisa has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from West Chester University and an Alumni Certificate of Merit by the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She also received the "Paving the Way" award from Women in Business and the "Distinguished Author Award" from Scranton University. All of Lisa's books draw on her experience as a trial lawyer as well as her judicial clerkships in the state and federal justice systems.

December 11, 2003: Frank Lentricchia

Frank Lentricchia has taught at UCLA, UC Irvine and Rice. His chief interests lie in American literature, history of poetry, modernism, the aesthetics of reading, and the history and theory of criticism. His most recent critical work is Crimes of Art + Terror (2003), with Jody McAuliffe; his other major publications include The Gaiety of Language: An Essay on the Radical Poetics of W.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens (1968), Robert Frost: Modern Poetics and the Landscapes of Self (1975), After the New Criticism (1980), Criticism and Social Change (1983), Ariel and the Police (1988), Critical Terms for Literary Study (1990), Introducing Don DeLillo (1991), New Essays on White Noise (1991), The Edge of Night (1994), Modernist Quartet (1994), Johnny Critelli and The Knifeman (1996), The Music of the Inferno (1999), Lucchesi and The Whale (2001), Close Reading: The Reader (2002), and Modernist Lyric in the Culture of Capital (2002). He teaches at Duke University, and was editorial chair of South Atlantic Quarterly for five years.

November 21, 2002: Bill Tonelli

Bill Tonelli is the author of the 1994 non-fiction book, The Amazing Story of the Tonelli Family in America: Twelve Thousand miles in a Buick in Search of Identity, Ethnicity, Geography, Kinship and Home (Addison-Wesley, out of print) and an Assistant Managing Editor of Rolling Stone. He is Abruzzese by blood and South Philadelphian by birth, temperament, and allegiance.

November 1, 2001: Camille Paglia and Richard Benedetto

"Tony Soprano, the Media and Popular Culture"
Moderated by Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli

Camille Paglia is a scholar and culture critic whose books include Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (Yale University Press, 1990); Sex, Art, and American Culture (Vintage Books, 1992); Vamps & Tramps: New Essays (Vintage Books, 1994); and The Birds, a study of Alfred Hitchcock published in 1998 by the British Film Institute in its Film Classics Series. She has contributed innumerable articles on art, literature, popular culture, feminism, and politics to publications around the world, including, for which she was a columnist for six years (1995-2001). She has also lectured and appeared on television and radio extensively in the United States and abroad. She received her B.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1968 and her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University in 1971 and 1974 respectively. She is University Professor and Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984. She is currently completing a study of poetry to be published in 2002 by Pantheon Books.

Richard Benedetto is a national political correspondent and columnist for USA TODAY and Gannett News Service. A member of USA TODAY's founding staff, the lead reporter and analyst on all political polling with CNN, and a weekly political columnist for the Gannett News Service's 85 daily newspapers, he has covered local, state, and national government and politics in the United States for the past 30 years. He covered the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 Presidential campaigns and served as a White House correspondent from 1989-1993. He was also the state legislative correspondent in the Albany, N.Y. bureau of the Gannett News Service, where he covered state government and politics during the Hugh Carey administration. From 1971-1976, he was the city government and political reporter/columnist for the Utica (N.Y.) Observer-Dispatch. He also taught newswriting and reporting at Utica College of Syracuse University from 1974-1976. He holds a B.A. from Utica College of Syracuse University, an M.A. in journalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Syracuse University.

Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli is a University of Pennsylvania graduate (C'64, GRM'74) and the author/editor of three books: Beyond the Godfather (New England University Press), Passage to Liberty (Regan Books/HarperCollins), and Let Me In. He has contributed many articles to scientific literature and has also written on popular culture. He has appeared on John McGaughlin's One on One and The Dennis Wholly Show, and on radio. He is Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and immediate past President of the National Italian American Foundation and its current National Vice Chairman. He is the originator of this lecture series.

April 18, 2000: Jay Parini

"On Poetry, Prose, and Italy"

Jay Parini was born in 1948 in the anthracite mining country of northeastern Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lafayette College in 1970, then got his PhD at St. Andrews in Scotland. While a graduate student in Scotland he published his first book of poems, Singing in Time (1972). Since 1972 Parini has published fourteen books, including biographies of Theodore Roethke, Gore Vidal, John Steinbeck and Robert Frost, four books of poems (the latest is House of Days), and five novels. Parini is also the co-founder of New England Review. He is the Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College. He is married to Devon Jersild, a writer, and has three sons. He lives in Weybridge, Vermont.