Archive for Events

Dr Cécile Bishop, “The Truth about Amin”: History and Fiction in Filmic Portrayals of Idi Amin

Events, Podcastson November 13th, 2013No Comments

Tuesday 26 November, 5.00pm, IN243

The podcast of this talk is available at

In an interview about his 2009 book on post-Amin Uganda, The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget, Andrew Rice declared to the New York Times: ‘If one historical figure could be said to embody the continent as it is stereotypically imagined — dark, dangerous, atavistic and charged with sexual magnetism — it would be Idi Amin Dada’. This remark encapsulates one of the key challenges raised by the representation of postcolonial dictatorships in Africa: the difficulty of offering a description of these regimes that would avoid reproducing colonial stereotypes about the continent.

This paper examines three films about Uganda dictator Idi Amin:  Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (1974), by Franco-Swiss documentarist Barbet Schroeder, the British drama The Last King of Scotland (2006) by Kevin MacDonald, and the ‘exploitation’ film The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin by Kenyan director Sharad Patel (1981). Focusing on the articulation of fiction and history in these works, the discussion will explore the political and ethical issues raised by the potential recuperation of postcolonial African realities as sensational topics for filmmakers. However, it will show that any such discussion needs to address the following paradox: although ethical/political responsibilities are often set in opposition to notions such as ‘aestheticization’ in representations of violent or traumatic political realities, those are in fact deeply entangled in contingent aesthetic and generic conventions.

Adam Ganz discusses ‘The Gestapo Minutes’

Events, Podcastson November 13th, 2013No Comments

Weds 13 November, 5pm, IN007

The podcast of this talk is available HERE.

Adam Ganz (Media Arts, Royal Holloway) discusses his recent radio play ‘The Gestapo Minutes’, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July 2013 and which, taking an historical episode as its basis, fascinatingly explores power, ethics, guilt and trauma. Ganz is interested in the possibilities and limitations of adapting and dramatizing historical events, and the gaps and silences of the archive.

 Synopsis of the Play:

‘Mainz, Summer 1945 and the war is over. Michel Oppenheim, for 6 years head of the Jewish Community, has survived, thanks to his non-Jewish wife. Now Gerhard Schwoerer the Gestapo Officer with whom he had regular meetings throughout the war has come to beg him for a testimonial, which could save him from a war crimes trial and execution. Oppenheim must decide whether to help the man who sat across the table during the previous years of horror and humiliation.’

Adam Ganz is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway, and also active as professional screenwriter and director for radio, film and television. His principal research interests focus on audiovisual narrative, with particular reference to the migration of audiovisual production processes to the digital, and on the TV development process and other forms of collaborative narrative including the collaboration between author and audience.

 See also:

 The play can be accessed here:

Hanna Meretoja, ‘Trauma, History and the Ethics of Storytelling’

Events, Podcastson February 4th, 2013No Comments

The podcast of this event can be found HERE.

Date: 5 March 2013

Time: 5.00 pm

Venue: Royal Holloway, WIN005

A profound suspicion of narrative form is widespread in trauma studies. Not only is trauma seen as de facto inassimilable to narrative understanding, but also stories as such are frequently considered to be ethically problematic in their very attempt to make sense of traumatic experience, because the act of narration is taken to reduce something singular into an account that gives it a general meaning. This paper suggests that such a position largely depends on a subsumptive model of understanding, which underlies, for example, much of poststructuralist criticism of the violence of understanding. This paper explores an alternative, more hermeneutically oriented approach which may make it possible to rethink the ethical potential of storytelling.  The paper also discusses how the current suspicion of narrativity echoes the crisis of storytelling in postwar Europe, when a new generation of novelists (such as the nouveaux romanciers) felt that storytelling is inadequate in responding to the traumatic experience of the Second World War. Contemporary literature, in turn, may help us acknowledge not only the violent dimension but also the ethical potential of narrative. In the light of Julia Franck’s Die Mittagsfrau (2007, The Blind Side of the Heart), the paper analyses, in the post-Holocaust context, the way in which nothing in stories guarantees the actualization of their ethical potential and the way in which narrative identities imposed on us may lead us to repeat harmful emotional and behavioral patterns. The paper examines how seeing storytelling as a process of reinterpreting experience may allow us not only to acknowledge the temporal, inevitably unfinished character of storytelling, and its implications for confronting collective and personal trauma, but also to analyse when narratives enlarge the space of possibilities in which we can act, think and re-imagine the world together with others, and when they restrain or impoverish the possibilities open to us, reinforcing painful repetition of traumatic experience.


Hanna Meretoja

Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Tampere (

 Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature and Research Fellow, University of Turku(

Helen Vassallo, ‘The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing: Gender, War and Trauma’

Events, Podcastson January 10th, 2013No Comments

Scan1Date: 30 January 2013

Time. 5.00 pm

Venue: Royal Holloway, room WIN005

For the podcast of this session, click HERE.

The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing is a semi-autobiographical narrative by Lebanese author Darina Al-Joundi, which recounts her coming-of-age during the Lebanese civil war and explores the entwining of socio-historical trauma and personal experience. Al-Joundi was raised in an unorthodox household: her father, a Syrian political exile, wanted to raise his daughters as “free women” in a society which made this “freedom” unrealizable, constraining Darina within other, equally harmful, stereotypes. The analysis thus examines the quest for one woman to find a secular “freedom” in a society characterized by religious conflict and gender inequality, and reveals this quest to be fraught with personal and social trauma. It will conclude by evaluating possibilities for “freedom” in exile in France, considering the extent to which Al-Joundi’s representation of the “free woman” challenges traditional dichotomies between East and West regarding notions of liberty, particularly as they are incarnated by women.

Whose Tragedy? Cultural Representations of Disability

Events, Podcastson December 13th, 2012No Comments

 The podcast of this event can be found HERE.


Whose Tragedy? Cultural Representations of Disability 

A ‘Trauma History Fiction’ Workshop

Royal Holloway, University of London

March 21st 2013, 11am-6pm


Organised by Dr Hannah Thompson, RHUL

Received wisdom tells us that disability is a wholly negative occurrence to be avoided or cured wherever possible, a disaster which blights an individual’s life and causes terrible suffering and hardship. This way of thinking about disability, which has been defined as the ‘personal tragedy model’, is so pervasive as to have become the standard framework for defining and discussing disability. 

But recent work in Disability Studies offers an alternative way of conceiving disability.This new model, the ‘personal non-tragedy’ approach, works to challenge the meanings of notions such as ‘normality’, ‘cure’ and ‘beauty’ which underpin the negative way in which disability is traditionally conceived. In so doing, ‘personal non-tragedy’ seeks to valorise disability as a positive – even desirable – facet of individual and collective experience. 

This one-day workshop will explore ways in which representations of disability and the disabled in literature, film and the visual arts conform to or undermine the ‘personal tragedy’ model and how such representations might contribute to, or hinder, the development of the ‘personal non-tragedy’ model. ‘Disability’ will be understood in the widest possible way, encompassing, for example, physical and mental impairment, sensory deprivation, and conditions which are either permanent or temporary.

Questions discussed during the workshop might include: 

  • What are the ethical implications at stake in the representation of disability?
  • How is the reader or viewer implicated in such representations?
  • Who can speak about disability? Does speaking about disability mean different things across the disabled/non-disabled divide?
  • Are the two models exhaustive / mutually-exclusive / co-dependant? Are there other ways of thinking about disability?
  • What is the role of the metaphorical or the symbolic in representations of disability? What are the implications of metaphorical readings?
  • What is at stake in the experience of the reader/viewer/writer when discussing or responding to disability?
  • Is ‘disability’ a useful term of reference? Is it possible to generalise disability to this extent? Would more specific terms be more or less helpful?

 This workshop will take place as part of Royal Holloway’s ‘Trauma Fiction History’ series ( at c4cc, 16 Acton Road, London ( It is the result of thinking which began with the ‘Nineteenth-Century Monsters’ seminar in March 2010. (

As well as providing a forum in which to discuss Disability Studies’ relationship to cultural production through a predominantly (although not exclusively) French perspective, it is hoped that this workshop will be the first step in establishing a network of colleagues working on Disability Studies in Modern Languages with a view to an eventual AHRC Networks Grant.

About the Organiser:

Dr Hannah Thompson is a Senior Lecturer in French at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has published widely in nineteenth-century French literature, and her second book, Taboo: Corporeal Secrets of Nineteenth-Century France is forthcoming with Legenda. She is beginning a new project on blindness in French literature and culture and is particularly interested in Disability Studies’ relationship with French Studies. Her blog ‘Blind Spot’ ( uses elements of the ‘personal non-tragedy’ model to highlight the sighted world’s fraught relationship with the blind and partially blind.




Dr Jenny Chamarette, Queen Mary, University of London

Prof Charles Forsdick, University of Liverpool

Dr Sam Haigh, University of Warwick

Dr Nick Hammond, University of Cambridge

Prof Abigail Lee-Six, Royal Holloway, University of London

Dr Vivienne Orchard, University of Southampton

Prof Naomi Segal, Birkbeck, University of London

Dr Hannah Thompson (Organiser), Royal Holloway, University of London

Dr Kate Tunstall, Worcester College, Oxford

Dr Maria Vaccarella, King’s College London




11-11:15 Registration and Coffee 

11:15-1:15pm Session One 

Whose Disability? Challenging Stereotypical Representations of Epilepsy

Maria Vaccarella (Centre for the Humanities and Health and Comparative Literature Department, King’s College London)


Sur mes lèvres, Deafness, Embodiment: Towards a Film Phenomenology of a Differently Ordered Sensorium

Jenny Chamarette (Queen Mary, University of London)


Beyond the ‘Narrative of Overcoming’: Representations of Disability in Contemporary French Culture.

Sam Haigh (University of Warwick) 


1:15-2pm: Lunch

2-3:30:  Session Two 

Ana García-Siñeriz, Esas mujeres rubias (2010): disability, gender, and the medical establishment

Abigail Lee Six (Royal Holloway, University of London)


The pain of itching

Naomi Segal (Birkbeck College, London)


‘Raw data’: autistic aloneness and the category of insight in Elle s’appelle Sabine

Vivienne Orchard (University of Southampton) 


3:30-4: Tea 

4-5:30 Session Three 

Telling, not seeing: blindness and travel writing

Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool)


On not being deaf to the blind

Kate Tunstall (Worcester College, Oxford)


Disability and Sexuality: the poetry of Denis Sanguin de Saint-Pavin (1595-1670)

Nick Hammond (University of Cambridge)


5:30 Closing Remarks and Plans for Next Stages


Denis M. Provencher, ‘Maghrebi-French Disidentifications: Queer Performances of Gender, Religion, and Citizenship’

Events, Podcastson November 13th, 2012No Comments

Date: 5 December 2012
Time: 5.00 pm
Venue: Royal Holloway, room WIN005

For the podcast of Professor Provencher’s talk, click HERE.

Denis M. Provencher, Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow, Nottingham-Trent University & Associate Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Title: ‘Maghrebi-French Disidentifications: Queer Performances of Gender, Religion, and Citizenship’

This talk builds on recent work in anthropology, critical discourse analysis, and performance studies to examine the queer performances of gender, religion, and citizenship by self-identified gay Maghrebi-French men from my recent fieldwork in France. As a point of departure, I draw on José Esteban Muñoz’s notion of ‘disidentification’, which he defines as a strategy of resistance that ‘works on and against dominant ideology’ and that ‘tries to transform cultural logic from within’ a dominant system of identification and assimilation (1999: 11-12). In my own analysis, I examine how two French interviewees of Maghrebi descent, Toufik (2Fik) and Ludovic, ‘disidentify’ or draw on and reshape dominant ways of being and belonging in contemporary France. First, I consider a series of interviews with Toufik (2Fik), a performance artist and photographer, who works from within dominant Western notions of feminism to rewrite longstanding images of Islam in France. I will also present a series of his parodic photographs, which capture encounters between ‘liberated’ and ‘conservative’ Muslims and question dominant images of the subordinate veiled woman, heteronormativity, and traditional masculinity associated with Maghrebi-French families. Next, I consider my interview with Ludovic Lotfi Mohamed Zahed, founder of the French association Homosexuels musulmans de France (HM2F), and analyze his recent essay/autobiography Le Coran et la Chair (2012) to show how his work as an activist, scholar, and religious thinker functions from within dominant Islam and readings of the Coran to reconstruct the ‘good’ practicing Muslim and ‘good citizen’. Indeed, Toufik’s and Ludovic’s stories will help us to see how they must ‘straddle competing cultural traditions, memories, and material conditions’ in their queer performances and they must devise ‘a configuration of possible scripts of self/selves that shift according to the situation’ (Manalansan 2003: x) in order to be heard both in contemporary France and in their families of origin.

Joseph Harris and Katherine Ibbett – Trauma and the Early Modern (2)

Eventson February 15th, 2011No Comments













Les Remords d’Oreste (1862), by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905)


Date: Friday 13 May 2pm

Venue: 11 Bedford Square, room F1


Dr Katherine Ibbett, UCL, ‘Perp talk: Trauma and the triumph of Louis XIV’

Dr Joseph Harris, Royal Holloway, University of London, ‘Tragic trauma? Remorse, repetition and the Orestes myth’

On the face of things, there seems something ineradicably modern about trauma as a concept. Born, as ‘traumatic neurosis’, alongside modern psychoanalysis at the end of the nineteenth century, and revitalised within deconstruction at the close of the twentieth, trauma theory has also been shaped by a series of – it is sometimes supposed – uniquely modern catastrophes: World War I, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Vietnam. So what if anything can trauma theory reveal of other historical periods? Is to speak of trauma in the early modern period, for example, merely to indulge in futile anachronism? Or can trauma theory still teach us something about early modern violence and the mental scars it left behind? More provocatively, perhaps, can early modern texts tell us anything of trauma theory itself: its assumptions, its blind spots, its own unspoken past? In the second of a two-part mini-series on ‘Trauma and the Early Modern’, Katherine Ibbett and Joseph Harris interrogate modern and early-modern discourses on trauma and the tragic.

Three Documentaries on Mussolini

Eventson February 1st, 2011No Comments



 As part of an AHRC project on the Cult of Mussolini run by Stephen Gundle, Christopher Duggan and Giuliana Pieri, three documentary films have been made for educational purposes (all directed by Vanessa Roghi). These films, each lasting approx 43 mins, will be launched publicly to academic and educational colleagues at UCL in London on Friday 11 February. The films include newsreel footage, home movies, location material and interviews and are of broadcast quality.

They will be available as DVDs and we hope they will be widely used in teaching.

The programme of the day is listed below. Please note that the location is not the main UCL building.

 There is no charge for this event but for catering purposes it would be appreciated if those planning to attend could say so to Stephen Gundle ( by Monday 7 February.



 UCL: Friday 11 February

Edward Lewis Lecture Theatre, Windeyer Building, 46 Cleveland Street (3 mins from Goodge Street tube)

 10.30 coffee

 11.00 intro and film 1 (’Fascism and the Cult of the Duce’) followed by panel with Christopher Duggan, Philip Morgan and Vanessa Roghi.

 12.45 – 1.45 lunch

 1.45 - 3.15  film 2 (’Predappio: Past and Present in Mussolini’s Birthplace’) followed by panel with David Forgacs, John Foot, and Sofia Serenelli

 3.15-3.45  tea

 3.45 - 5.15 film 3 (’Mussolini after Mussolini’)  followed by panel with Robert Lumley, Giuliana Pieri, and Stephen Gundle

 5.30. drinks reception

Against Mussolini: Art and the Fall of a Dictator

Eventson September 21st, 2010No Comments

Powerful works of anti-Fascist imagery will be on display at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1, in the exhibition Against Mussolini: Art and the Fall of a Dictator, from 22 September to 19 December 2010.  While several major exhibitions have been devoted to exploring the propaganda imagery of Fascist Italy, art produced by those hostile to Mussolini and his regime has received surprisingly little attention in recent years. The exhibition will draw on a wide range of material – painting, sculpture, graphic design and documentation – to provide a comprehensive and illuminating study of this under-explored area of modern Italian culture.

The exhibition constitutes a central element of a wider research project entitled The Cult of the Duce: Mussolini and the Italians, 1918-2005, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Prof. Stephen Gundle (Warwick University), working in collaboration with Prof. Christopher Duggan (Reading University) and Dr Giuliana Pieri (Royal Holloway, University of London).  The aim of the project has been to investigate the nature, purposes, functioning and impact of the personality cult of Mussolini in the period from 1918 until 1945.  The after-effects of the cult in popular memory have also been studied.

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) began his political career as an ardent Socialist, promoting the overthrow of the Liberal state through an aggressive journalistic style that led him to be appointed editor of the party’s newspaper Avanti!. However, the outbreak of the First World War represented a turning point in his evolving political consciousness, causing him to reject his party’s official line of neutrality in favour of the interventionist cause, seeing in war a chance to shake bourgeois society to its foundations and precipitate revolution.  He established his own newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia, which functioned as the mouthpiece of his particular brand of Socialism – and of the nascent Fascist movement.

Officially founded in March 1919, Fascism’s programme initially attracted few supporters with its bewildering blend of right-wing nationalism and leftist social reforms.  Dismal election results that year encouraged yet another ideological reappraisal on the part of Mussolini, who undertook a further – and irrevocable – move to the Right, abandoning the movement’s earlier republicanism and anticlericalism, and shedding the last vestiges of Socialist ideology in an opportunistic pursuit of power.  In response to the industrial unrest precipitated by the economic problems of the post-war era, Mussolini played on fears of an imminent Bolshevik revolution of the kind he had once encouraged, presenting Fascism as the sole defender of law and order.  With support for the movement increasing, the Liberal Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti invited Mussolini to form an anti-Socialist alliance in 1921 which led to the election of thirty-five Fascist Deputies.  However, Mussolini was not satisfied to play a supporting role.  The failure to suppress the Fascist ‘March on Rome’ of 28 October 1922 revealed a fatal lack of political will to resist the rise of Mussolini’s movement, culminating in his appointment as Prime Minister at the end of the month.

Having swiftly discarded the democratic framework of Liberal Italy, Mussolini had established his dictatorship by 1925.  He then directed his attention to the outside world, determined to make Italy a great colonial power.  Ethiopia was invaded in 1935 and increasing admiration of Hitler’s Nazi regime led to the signing of the 1939 Pact of Steel, which bound both countries to support one another in the event of war – even if one party had unilaterally precipitated the conflict.  Italy declared war on the Allied powers in June 1940 but her military weaknesses soon became apparent and a series of defeats in North and East Africa and the Balkans ensued.

Following the landing of Allied troops in Sicily in July 1943 and heavy bombardments of Rome, Mussolini was overthrown at a meeting of the Grand Council of Fascism and imprisoned on the orders of his former colleagues, who signed an armistice on 8 September.  However, having been rescued by German commandos, Mussolini was installed as the puppet leader of a new Fascist regime in the north of the country, now occupied by Nazi forces – known as ‘The Republic of Salò’ after the town on the shores of Lake Garda that served as its administrative centre.  As the Allies advanced north through an Italy divided in two by a bitter civil war, Mussolini attempted to escape to Switzerland but was captured by partisans and executed on 28 April 1945.

Mussolini was the first political leader to harness the techniques of theatre, the visual arts and the mass media to a personalised system of rule.  One of the key features of the Fascist regime was an orchestrated personality cult involving systematic adulation of the leader.  Mussolini was hailed by admirers as a genius, the saviour of the nation, the founder of the empire, a superman and a demi-god.  The cult was vital to the way the regime functioned, integrating the population into a system of consensus that appeared solid until it was undermined by the setbacks of World War Two.  Busts and portraits of the Duce were situated in public buildings and private homes, while a number of larger monuments depicted him on horseback or helmeted in warrior mode.  The cult was a product of the Duce’s megalomania but it was also a peculiarly modern phenomenon.  It was the result of a complex synergy of Italian nationalism, mass politics, visual culture, popular religion, celebrity and consumerism.  Far from being a purely political phenomenon, it was multi-faceted and driven by factors that went beyond the regime itself.

The exhibition Against Mussolini: Art and the Fall of a Dictator relates to the part of the project concerned with the decline of the cult.  It brings together some of the diverse paintings and drawings produced in Italy and abroad throughout the Fascist era, but focuses particularly on the years immediately following Mussolini’s initial fall from power in 1943 and the period of civil war and resistance.  This period witnessed the destruction of many Fascist symbols and images of Mussolini.  Portraits in homes and local Fascist organisations were thrown out while larger works were attacked and defaced.   Popular anger reflected the detachment from the cult that the hardships and setbacks of the war brought.  Artists shared these feelings and in several cases anticipated them.  Many of the works in the exhibition are characterised by a demonisation and a desecration of the man who had once been hailed as a demi-god, depicting a grotesque figure of tragic or comic proportions.  The virile Duce is turned into an obese, mis-shapen man in works that have an air of blasphemy.  Others represent meditations on the tragedy of the Nazi occupation and civil war.  Together they offer a unique insight into the way the visual arts responded to a period of transition that still remains controversial today.   

The exhibition will feature a large selection of satirical drawings by the Paduan artist Tono Zancanaro (1906-1985) depicting the grotesque figure of ‘Gibbo’ and his entourage – a thinly veiled caricature of Mussolini and the grandees of the Fascist regime.  Zancanaro began the series of drawings in 1937, the works being fed by a series of diverse influences and inspirations.  The name ‘Gibbo’ was taken partly from the character of Gibbon in John Ford’s film The Informer and partly from the animal, while Gibbo’s monstrous, bloated form was inspired by patches of damp on the walls of the hospital where the artist was confined during the late 1930s after being mistakenly informed that he was terminally ill.  Described by one critic as ‘half-man, incomplete, shapeless, deformed, immature and abortive’, Gibbo embodies the inflated pomposity and obscene squalor of the Fascist regime.  Similar in tone is the work of Mino Maccari, who is represented by images from his Dux series, which presents the dictator as a lascivious buffoon.  The small scale of Maccari’s works was in deliberate contrast to the monumental dimensions of the cult statues and paintings.

There will also be a number of drawings made by partisans during the final months of the war, documenting the capturing of German soldiers, battles in the mountains and fellow partisans at rest in their makeshift barracks.  In their directness and simplicity these drawings reflect the revival of realism in Italian art that was to become the dominant aesthetic tendency of the post-war years.  Exhibited in the spring of 1945, these works were created by the artists Nicola Neonato (1912-2006), Vittorio Magnani (1912-1994) and Renato Cenni (1906-1977) – under the pseudonyms Pollaiolo, Marcello and Neri – who worked for the newspaper Il Partigiano (The Partisan).  Neonato went on to fresco the memorial chapel at Dachau.  As they were described by the newspaper, ‘these drawings, born between one battle and another, between the joy of victory and the sorrow for one’s fallen companions, in leaking, drafty barracks full of smoke […] will remain among the most important documents of the events through which an oppressed people is fighting for its freedom’. 

One of the most renowned exponents of post-war realist aesthetics was Renato Guttuso (1912-1987), who had also fought in the Resistance during 1944.  Key works on view include the Picasso-inspired Massacre (1943) and a study for his famous work Flight from Etna (1940).  Considered by the artist to be his first politically-charged image in its symbolic depiction of peasants fleeing in terror from an encroaching wave of lava, the finished work was, ironically, the star of the state-sponsored Bergamo Prize of that year.

A section of photographs is dedicated to the equestrian statue of Mussolini that was inaugurated in the Littoriale stadium in Bologna in 1929.  A large-scale work by Giuseppe Graziosi (1879-1942) fused from Austrian cannons captured during the First World War, it remained mounted on a pedestal until the human figure was pulled down by an angry crowd in July 1943.  The head was seized by loyal Fascists who conserve it to this day.  The remainder of the statue was taken down after the war and was turned into two figures of a male and a female partisan which now stand at one of the city’s gates.  

Foreign perspectives will also be considered through satirical drawings published in magazines such as Punch as well as the work of eye witnesses to the dramatic events surrounding the fall of Mussolini. The British painter Merlyn Evans (1910-1973) was serving in Italy in April 1945 and had witnessed the public exhibition of the corpses of Mussolini, his mistress Clara Petacci and other members of the Fascist hierarchy in Milan’s Piazzale Loreto.  His painting The Execution was made from his memory of this macabre spectacle, the jostling, jagged, abstract forms intending to represent the rage of the surging mob.

Works from two painting cycles by Mario Mafai (1902-1965) entitled Demolitions and Fantasia will also be shown.  The first chronicles Mussolini’s destruction of large areas of ancient Rome to make way for Fascism’s public works programmes and new districts such as the zona augustea.  Although not explicitly political, these works have been seen in retrospect as covert denunciations of Mussolini’s megalomania.  The Fantasia cycle is, by contrast, openly condemnatory of the violence and savage brutality of Fascism and strongly recalls Goya’s Disasters of War.

The cult of Mussolini cast a shadow in post-war Italy and nostalgic Fascists continued to cultivate their admiration in private.  But, for the majority of Italians, the failings of the dictatorship and the horrors of war were sufficient to end any attachment to Fascism’s dreams of building a mighty nation.  Artists played a vital part in portraying these horrors and in visualising the disenchantment with the man who led the country for more than twenty years. Their works stand as testimony to that particular, tragic phase in Italian history that preceded the rebirth of democracy.  They also offer something more: a stark condemnation of the vanities of dictatorship and of the violence that is an intrinsic part of Fascism.  To this extent they offer a universal message of humanity and peace that is no less urgent in our troubled times than it was in the middle of the twentieth century. 



Location:                Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

                               39a Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN,    Tel. +44 (0)20 7704 9522


Opening hours:      Wednesday to Saturday 11.00 to 18.00 hours.  Sunday 12.00 to 17.00 hours

                               Late night opening Thursdays until 20.00 hours.  Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  Shop: open gallery hours.  Library: by appointment only

Admission:             £5.00, concessions £3.50, includes permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.  Free to under-16s and students on production of a valid NUS card.  Library, by appointment only, £2.50 per visit.


Groups:                  Groups of 10 or more may book gallery talks (approx. 50 minutes) by curatorial staff on the current exhibition and the permanent collection.  £3.50 per head. 

Events:                   Gallery Talks: Informal talks on aspects of the exhibition last approximately 40 minutes and are free with admission ticket.   Saturday afternoons at 15.00 hours.

Café:                       The licensed Italian caffè, with outdoor seating in the landscaped garden, offers delicious fresh Italian food as well as snacks and hot and cold drinks.

How to get there:  Victoria Line, Overground and First Capital Connect to Highbury & Islington; First Capital Connect to Essex Road; buses: 271 to door; 4, 19, 30, and 43 to Upper Street/Canonbury Lane; 38, 56, 73 and 341 to Essex Rd/Canonbury Road.

Access:                  Main entrance in Canonbury Road.  Wheelchair access to galleries 1 to 4, café, shop and toilets. Limited car parking for blue badge holders (please telephone in advance).  Induction loop in gallery 2.

For further information, text in Italian, and images, please contact:

Sue Bond Public Relations

Tel. +44 (0)1359 271085, Fax. +44 (0)1359 271934

E-mail.,                                                              8/6/2010

Trauma and History: Approaches to the Holocaust

Eventson September 13th, 2010No Comments

Date: Tuesday 12 October, 5.00 pm

Venue: Royal Holloway, room MX001

Speakers: Professor Robert Eaglestone and Professor Dan Stone

Title: ‘Trauma and History: Approaches to the Holocaust’

Abstract: How should we write and talk about the Holocaust? Do the facts speak for themselves, or do they defy speech altogether? Does trauma provide a lens which can help us understand the Holocaust or does it confuse an already bewilderingly complex issue? Aiming to go beyond polemical simplifications, two leading scholars from different disciplinary fields will discuss whether it is necessary, possible or even desirable to give clear cut answers to questions such as these.

About the speakers:

Professor Robert Eaglestone is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Thought at Royal Holloway. For more information, click HERE.

Professor Dan Stone is Professor of Modern History at Royal Holloway. For more information, click HERE.