The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 28, 2013

Italy focus of MSSU themed semester

JOPLIN, Mo. — La dolce vita is coming to Missouri Southern State University.

The university’s themed semester this fall focuses on Italy and will feature about 50 events, including guest speakers, lectures and presentations, films, concerts and theatrical shows, and readings.

“The goal was really to incorporate something for everyone,” said Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies at MSSU. “Italy is such a vast and varied country, just chock full of culture and history and romance.”

Italy, with a population of about 61 million people, boasts the world’s 10th biggest economy, according to Allen Merriam, a retired MSSU professor of communications. The country’s impact on shaping the history of the world has been notable, he said.

“When we consider the Mussolini-Hitler alliance in World War II, the earlier reach of the Roman Empire, the pervasive influence of the Latin language and the Roman Catholic Church’s central role in spreading Christianity, Italy’s global importance becomes inescapable,” Merriam wrote in an essay introducing the university’s themed semester.

The semester will kick off next month with an event on the campus oval that will honor Italy’s standing as the largest worldwide wine producer. Participants may make their own grape juice with the assistance of Keltoi Winery, of Oronogo.

The keynote event, the Gockel International Symposium, is scheduled for Sept. 19 and will focus on Italian immigrants in America. The guest speaker, Vincenza Scarpaci, an Italian-American author and historian and founding member of the American Italian Historical Association, will deliver three lectures on the subject.

Italian opera will take center stage in mid-October, when the Southern Theatre, Heartland Opera Theatre and Institute of International Studies present Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci,” a tale of jealousy and revenge. The Southern Theatre in September will give performances inspired by the Renaissance-era comedy “Commedia dell’Arte,” and the university will host a broadcast of Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” by the New York Metropolitan Opera in November.

A host of guest speakers will lecture throughout the semester on topics such as Italian filmmaking and art, the country’s foreign policy and international relations, the papacy, the Italian economy, architecture, and notable scientific and technological discoveries from Italians.

Eleven Italian films will be shown throughout the semester; scheduled films include director Martin Scorsese’s 1999 film “My Voyage to Italy” and the 2011 film “Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope).”

And no tour of Italy would be complete without some food demonstrations.

“We do have a bit more emphasis on food than usual because Italy is noted for its fine cuisine,” Stebbins said.

In September, a full Italian meal sponsored by Sodexo will be offered, and Kansas City chef Cody Hogan will share some of his food while discussing the techniques and tastes of contemporary Italian cuisine. Mindy Lindeman, owner of Olive Tree Fine Oils and Vinegars in Overland Park, Kan., will present the basics of olive oil during a presentation in October.

A majority of the events will be free, and all will be open to the public.

On the Net

MORE INFORMATION about the Italy semester, including a full list of events, is available at

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