Ca' Foscari-Harvard Summer School. 10 year book of memories

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Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School 10 year book of memories

contents BEGINNINGS Alide Cagidemetrio ..................................................................................................................................... 7 William Kirby ................................................................................................................................................11 Jane Edwards ..................................................................................................................................................13 Robert Neugebroen ..................................................................................................................................15

MEMORIES Marco Li Calzi ..............................................................................................................................................19 Werner Sollors .............................................................................................................................................20 George Blaustein .........................................................................................................................................21 Francesca Borgo ...........................................................................................................................................22 Joyce Chaplin .................................................................................................................................................23 Stephen A. Marglin ..................................................................................................................................24 Michele Daloiso ...........................................................................................................................................25 Frank Fehrenbach ......................................................................................................................................26 Amy Robinson ..............................................................................................................................................27 Paolo Pellizzari ..............................................................................................................................................28 Fabrizio Marrella .........................................................................................................................................29 Robert France ................................................................................................................................................30 Rolf Petri ............................................................................................................................................................31 Serenella Zen ..................................................................................................................................................32 Giovanni Favero ..........................................................................................................................................33 Glenda Carpio ..............................................................................................................................................34 Giovanna Micconi .....................................................................................................................................35

SOUNDBITES IMPRESSIONS Serenella Zen “Ca’ Foscari - Harvard Runner School” .................................................47 Sara Wright “Prego” ...................................................................................................................................48 Amy Robinson “Let the Pressure Build” ..................................................................................49

THE EDITOR Megan Rae ........................................................................................................................................................53

MANY TOMORROWS, CFHSS! Sandra Naddaff ............................................................................................................................................57 Michele Bugliesi ..........................................................................................................................................59


10 year book of memories



It was a sunny Spring day in 2005. From the ancient walls of Ca’ Foscari we went to an Osteria for lunch. Jane Edwards was the Harvard envoy visiting the University. We had met before in Cambridge and had then talked about ourselves, two women who juggled their lives between work and family. But at lunch Jane started talking about a project she had. What about building up a joint Summer School she said; that would be challenging, I said. Let’s see what we can do. It should be on an equal footing, both universities contributing equally, same number of professors and students, same requirements, same procedures of admission, a board with an equal number of members from each University directing the course of studies. I was stunned, excited, ready to go. And we went. In June there was the first joint meeting. Again a beautiful sunny day. The room where we met was on the Grand Canal, at Palazzo Garzoni e Moro. Robert Lue, then Dean of the Harvard Summer School and Carlo Carraro, then Vice Rector, set the tone for the institutional exchange, envisioned courses in three areas of common interest, humanities, economics, environmental science, and together with Angeliki Laiou, Werner Sollors, Jane Edwards and Robert Neugeboren from Harvard and Gianclaudio Macchiarella, Reinhold Mueller, Gabriele Zanetto and Anna Colombini from Ca’Foscari, we worked out details with the kind of common understanding and enthusiasm that always accompany a grand scheme, with the kind of dedication that educators can summon in the service of younger generations. Later we went to see the prospective student lodgings at Giudecca. We were shown around. The students there opened their rooms for us and one of them

excused himself as he was at the moment ironing his t-shirts. That won Jane over. “Harvard students will certainly learn something here,” she said. We went to see an apartment for sale in the Palazzo Barbaro. Maybe in the future a Harvard address in Venice, she said. Generations of Bostonians had lived there, Henry James was an habitual guest, the memory of his visits translated into the Palazzo Leporelli of his great Venetian novel, “The Wings of the Dove”. The rectangle of a courtyard, the water of the Grand Canal reaching its steps, a marble staircase and then painted ceilings and walls, a triumph of stuccoes awaited us in the penumbra of closed shutters, we looked at each other knowing all this was the substance of dreams. And we worked on. Harvard lawyers wrote the text for the agreement. It also included provisions in the case of war between our two countries, but it was soon peacefully signed by both parties. Many meetings and many email messages later we were ready to start. It was again a beautiful, sunny morning, on June 26, 2006, and the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School was inaugurated. Robert Lue, Jane Edwards, Robert Neugeboren and William Kirby, the Harvard Dean of Arts and Sciences, shared with us at Ca’ Foscari the pleasure of welcoming 110 students from both universities gathered in the magnificent hall of Ca’ Dolfin. In the opening lecture, Angeliki talked of Venice and the Crusades, making vivid the Serenissima’s contribution, Venetian merchants were catering to the needs of the Crusaders, something like today’s ever-present panini and tramezzini and tons of them were sent their way she said. What was Venice and what is Venice? The center of an Empire, a visitable past, a modern tourist’s extravaganza? Big questions that touched the

8 students, we are being turned into pioneers, said one of them, pioneers in making Venetian culture new by becoming part of it. They visited San Marco at night, confronted its mosaics with those of Sant’Apollinare in Ravenna, made mosaics, and potteries, took photographs of Venetian types, went along the Brenta, roamed in the lagoon, paused in front of the Carpaccios, the Veroneses and in front of Tiepolo’s “Mondo Novo”. And congregated in Campo Santa Margherita, at the end all together rooted for Italy in the soccer world cup. Friendships in and outside the classrooms, studying hard and helping each other, celebrating July 4th and the Redentore. Understanding differences and embracing similarities. And now, ten intensive years later, this for me is the accomplished mission of the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School, and it is most deserving of celebration.

Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School I wish to thank all those whose work and dedication has over the years supported our School, to them all, deans, members of the board, professors, TAs, administrative staff both from Ca’ Foscari and Harvard University goes my deepest gratitude. I wish particularly to thank Robert Neugeboren, for the many conversations and shared projects, for his unwavering support and friendship; Sabrina Daneluzzi who with patience and grace worked many long afterhours, Valerie Cogan whose pioneering work set a standard for the years to come, Lily Banning who charmingly zoomed in and out of the program, and Megan Rae, whose superb managing skills, personal warmth and generosity has helped hundreds of students, scores of professors and TA’s to feel at home at Ca’ Foscari and in Venice. Thank you! Alide Cagidemetrio Director, Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School

10 year book of memories


10 year book of memories


William Kirby

T.M. Chang Professor of China Studies and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration, Harvard University The Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School was an experiment ten years ago, perhaps for Ca’ Foscari, and most certainly for Harvard. Harvard was an international university, to be sure, but with few ambitions of impact beyond Boston. It criminalized study abroad for its students and limited its faculty to teaching in two zip codes. The partnership with Ca’ Foscari was a signal change in intent and accomplishment. It was a pioneer among what became more than thirty accomplished Harvard international programs

in summer. As Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, I had the honor to inaugurate the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School ten years ago, and I look forward to raising my glass this summer to Alide Cagidemetrio, Werner Sollors, and all who planned and persevered in its development. Set in an ever-global city, welcoming to all disciplines, and a true alliance of the faculty and students of our two universities, the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School is simply a gem: once an experiment, now an institution.

10 year book of memories



Senior Associate Dean of Yale College; Dean of International and Professional Experience, Yale University I was sitting in my office in the garden level of University Hall in Harvard Yard 12 years ago when Werner Sollors came to my office for the first time - which was a thrill for me, since I’d been reading and teaching his work for years and thought of him as one of my academic guiding stars. But Werner came not to talk about ethnic groups in the US but to make a suggestion: would it be interesting, as we expanded study abroad for Harvard undergraduates, to explore a collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University, where his wife Alide Cagidemetrio was on the faculty? I’d never been to Venice, I didn’t know very much about Ca’ Foscari, and I had no idea whether my colleague Rob Lue, Dean of the Harvard Summer School would be remotely open to the idea – whatever that idea turned out to be. But I was going to Greece anyway, and Werner pointed out that after all Venice was really right there. So I took a chance and a detour, and ended up in Cannaregio in the liveliest discussion with Alide and Werner and Alide’s wonderful Ca’ Foscari colleagues around a dinner table laden, of course, with improbably delicious food. It was inspiring – and together we came up with the idea of a joint program which would bring students from Harvard and Ca’ Foscari together to explore issues of interest to Italians and to Americans, and which would explore to the full the resources of one of the world’s most interesting cities.

Fortunately Rob, innovator and adventurer that he is, shared my enthusiasm for the idea. I remember our ceremonial opening, with Harvard Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William Kirby beside Ca’ Foscari vice-rector Carlo Carraro as one of the most engaging rituals of educational collaboration I have ever seen – and indeed, the poster for that event is still on the wall of my office here at Yale. All the meetings and planning and hiring and hard work that Alide and her staff and Rob and his staff went through to create this program were, I know we all believe, really worth it – to create a genuinely collaborative summer program with faculty and students from both institutions, with strong cultural components and every opportunity for learning both inside the classrooms, some of them ancient and beautiful, and in the alleys and museums and churches and gondolas of Venice. For me, the experience of constructing this program is emblematized by my travels through the city with Werner from one meeting or site visit to another, each stage of our walk interrupted by a detour into a church or public building “just to see this one painting (or statue, or ceiling), you can’t miss it!” And then, prosecco and a tramezzino at a table outside a trattoria in a quiet square with a guild emblem carved into the stone wall above our table. No surprise to me that a decade later the program continues to thrive.

10 year book of memories



Special Programs Director for the Summer School, Harvard University

Harvard Summer School offers many study abroad programs, but the Venice program is unique. Our partnership with the University Ca’ Foscari has created and supported a program that is more ambitious than any other, with multiple courses taught across several disciplines, involving students and faculty from both Harvard and Ca’ Foscari. Students have returned to say the experience was lifechanging, and it is gratifying to have helped offer this chance to nearly 1,000 students over the program’s 10 sessions. There are many people who have contributed to the program’s success, from its illustrious faculty to its talented students and dedicated staff, coming together to form a community of teachers and learners in Venice each summer. Harvard faculty have used the opportunity to extend their research, which in turn has influenced their teaching here in Cambridge. Students from around the world have learned together – both in the classroom and in a range of guided activities throughout the city – about the world and about each other. Relationships, both intellectual and personal, have been formed, giving meaning and direction to our collaboration today and as we look to the future.

As we celebrate the program’s tenth session, I want to acknowledge and thank our Director, Professor Alide Cagidemetrio, who has announced she will retire at the end of the year. Professor Cagidemetrio’s thoughtful leadership has been felt in so many areas, from guiding the curriculum and organizing symposia to designing the rich set of framing activities and ensuring the safety and quality of our students’ experience each summer. A trusted colleague and a friend, Professor Cagidemetrio will move on from her role as Director with the gratitude of many, especially me, and I hope to share her friendship and wisdom evermore. I also want to thank colleagues at Harvard including Rob Lue, then Dean of the Summer School who saw the potential of such a multidisciplinary and innovative program a decade ago, and Lisa Laskin and Matilda West, who have helped manage the program (and many others) each summer. Finally, I want to remember Angeliki Liaou, who gave so much vision and energy to the birth of the program.


10 year book of memories



CFHSS 2006 / 2008. Professor of Mathematical Economics, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia Vice-Provost for International Affairs, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.

Happy 10th anniversary, CFHSS! I know that you are coming of age when thinking of you makes me realize that the first time we met concepts like “iPad” or “Mooc” did not exist yet. You offered me the chance to design a course that did not fit in standard curricula, and experiment alternative approaches. I lured students with the promise to give them a sound understanding of how to strive for equity or fairness in a dispute, and they came back with real-life applications from all walks of life: divorce (ouch!), roommates splitting rents, biblical controversies, and protocols to avert climate change. Our class bubbled with impromptu quizzes, interactive grading, open discussions, and peer reviews well before someone thought of packaging them in digital format. I miss the elation we experienced in class, when trying a different approach turned a conundrum into an opportunity.

But I digress. This is your anniversary. I suppose it must be tough to be the kid of two venerable parents, who happen to be just 370 and 138 years older than you. (Lucky you, you had summer nannies as good as Mary Poppins!) In a few years, you’ll reach adolescence, that period of life when “grown-ups are […] more fascinated by what you might become than by what you are.” (Jim Lynch) Take heart. It’s always a whole new world out there, and yet you have managed to stay abreast and grow up. You made a lot of new friends on the way, and they share great memories with you. We’ll row together across the Charles and the lagoon.


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


CFHSS 2006 – 2015. Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African-American Studies, Harvard University “This could totally happen!” – an excited Harvard undergraduate blurted out to a friend at an international fair when she learned the details of the Ca` Foscari – Harvard Summer School, for which she very quickly put in her application. For what she rightly understood was that this was no routine program of a single professor taking twelve undergraduate students somewhere abroad, but a large-scale international experiment, with about 100 to 120 students and twelve to eighteen faculty members from Harvard and the University of Venice participating side-by-side, in about equal proportion and on an equal footing. Italian and American students are mixed in each of the classes on the Humanities, Economics and Environmental Studies, each student takes two for-credit courses, and there are many framing activities and excursions, ranging from guided tours to museums or the Art Biennale to workshops in mosaic-making and Venetian cooking. American students are offered Italianlanguage courses and receive full student privileges for use of the library, the cafeterias, and various discounts; Italian students get access to Harvard’s wide-ranging research websites and databases and have the opportunity to take lessons in expository writing in English. Classes generally enroll fewer than twenty students, and they meet in lecture

rooms of the University of Venice; students are housed in Venetian student dormitories—a rehabbed former clock factory in the first years, and more recently, a completely modernized baroque building, a former Jesuit monastery, with a bar located on a balustrade above a canal. The program must have hit it right, because it quickly became, and has remained popular with students on both sides of the Atlantic. But I have sketched only the scaffolding structure of a program that was worked out thanks to the efforts of many people at both institutions. The magic of what has happened inside that structure is more difficult to capture in a few words: not just learning together, but seeing the world from a new point of view; photo, video, and theater projects created jointly by Harvardians and Venetians; spontaneous reunions and longstanding Facebook contacts; summer romances; and unforgettable bits of dialogue like “they don’t take good American dollars here?” or an Italian student asking an American, “what other languages are you studying?” When the Dean of the Harvard Summer School examined the original proposal, said, “We can do that!” and shook hands with the Rector of the University of Venice, this act made an exciting program totally happen—and it has now totally happened for ten years.

10 year book of memories



CFHSS TF 2006. Harvard University.

I did not know what I was getting into when I signed on a decade ago to be a teaching fellow at the first Harvard Summer School in Venice. I had never been to Italy before, nor had I taught outside of the United States. I read some simple-Americans-in-Venice books: Henry James’s “The Aspern Papers”, William Dean Howells’s “A Foregone Conclusion”, Mark Twain’s “Innocents Abroad”. As guidebooks of a kind, they were still useful. It was satisfying to go to Venice for the first time with a job to do, relieved of the burdens of tourism. You could walk with purpose. You learned to navigate the city without looking at a map all the time. When it was really sweltering you avoided the Zattere, and graded the essays you had to grade in the shady garden behind Ca’ Bembo. It was rewarding to teach international students, whose insights into American literatures of immigration were sharp and fresh. But it wasn’t all work. We got used to spritzs in the early evening, and we watched the Redentore fireworks from a roof in Giudecca.

At the Peggy Guggenheim Collection our British guide helpfully pointed out when something was “terribly dada.” I saw the inside of San Marco only once, but I still recall how strange and vivid it was to be there with only a small group of students and faculty learning about ancient and medieval mosaics—quiet, without a crowd. The same group took a trip to Ravenna to see the mosaics there. The figure of Christ in San Vitale Basilica is clean-shaven, but the man who showed us around a modern mosaic workshop was gaunt and bearded. It is nice to think of oneself as a pioneer, and in that first summer it sometimes felt like we were navigating uncharted waters. My fellow TFs (Koray Durak, John Gasper and Imad Kodab) and I became the unofficial house deans, and managed our corner of the enterprise as best we could. Of course we saw only a sliver of the massive planning that went into the Summer School, but I nevertheless feel an undeserved pride that it has been so successful. Far outweighing that pride, though, is gratitude to the people I got to know and work with there. I learned more than I taught.

Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School



CFHSS Student 2007. TF 2008 – 2009 / 2014 – 2015

“The Challenge and Lure of the Object: Teaching Art History in Venice” It all started with a raised hand, and a question about Giorgione’s La Vecchia at the Gallerie dell’Accademia. I don’t remember my question, but it must have sounded smart; the professor seemed pleased. I remember feeling insecure yet empowered: in that class, the burden of bibliographical proof I was accustomed to cite didn’t seem to matter much. I had to use my eyes. What mattered was the image: Giorgione’s old woman, Tintoretto’s Mary Magdalen at San Rocco--a small figure swallowed by the moonlit landscape--or Donatello’s Saint John at the Frari. I remember standing with my classmates in a cold chapel looking at the saint’s body, ravaged and withered by penitence, for what seemed to be an unbearable amount of time. There were comments, questions, and silence. There was a lot of moving around, looking from different angles and at different distances. I was impatient and felt like we had said everything that needed to be said, and yet the professor gave no sign of wanting to move on. We looked, we were encouraged to look closer, and to look again. We discussed the object, agreed on a few points, reconsidered them, and eventually left with more questions than we had upon first gathering in front of the sculpture. It was 2007, the Summer School’s second year. That summer my class – Italian Renaissance Art – used to meet in Ca’ Vendramin, in a large frescoed room overlooking the Rio dei Tolentini. The following fall, when I was still living in Venice as a Ca’ Foscari student, I kept coming back to Donatello’s Saint John: yet alone as I was, without anyone there to push me, I was unable to plumb those infinite depths of questions that the artwork had yielded during that first summer afternoon. I now have a large “Summer School” folder on my computer, organized by year. The 2007 folder is followed by 2008, 2009, 2014, and, now, 2015. Syllabi, student assignments, images and schedules have accumulated. I went from being a student to being a teaching fellow, from taking the course

to teaching it. Over the course of these years, I left Ca’ Foscari, started my PhD at Harvard, and came back to Italy to conduct research. I’ve grown up, and grown older. My eyes are trained, the writing—thankfully!—flows easier. I am now knee-deep in my work on Leonardo da Vinci, an author I knew very little about in 2007. Year after year, returning to Venice for the Summer School helps me to gauge these changes. My stamina for standing in front of artworks in cold church chapels has increased considerably (my advisor’s endurance, however, remains unmatched). When I meet my students on-site to explore churches, museums, and palaces together, we engage in that collaborative questioning of the object that I first experienced in front of Donatello’s St. John. A deep reservoir of knowledge and aesthetic responses discloses itself to our gazes and inquiries. We struggle to overcome the sense of awe and reverence that these objects inspire, to minimize the effect of our own preconceptions. Together, in an undecipherable tangle of sketched lines or in the fine carvings of a marble relief, we seek the hand of the artist at work. This summer too, I will be looking forward to the Summer School’s two great gifts: a full immersion in monuments and works of art and a community of passionate young minds that bring together the insight of their different backgrounds to exchange ideas about images and their power to affect us. It is the energy and enthusiasm produced by these encounters that keeps me motivated for the rest of the academic year, when I am back at work in the solitary and remote interior of the library.

10 year book of memories



CFHSS 2013 – 2015. James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, Harvard University The Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School is perfect, except for its name. The “Ca’ Foscari” and “Harvard” parts are fine. And maybe separately, the words “summer” and “school” would be inoffensive, merely descriptive. But put together, the two words “summer school” hint at an experience in which much is lost in translation. The annual event in Venice is quite the opposite. Many study programs abroad fail to take advantage of their locations. Typically, an American institution rents space and services from a foreign institution but students are sheltered from the actual place and its native denizens, and might as well have stayed home. But the Harvard-Ca’ Foscari program is as Italian as it is American, as Venetian as it is Cantabridgian—and what a wonderful hybrid that is, as if gondolas prowled the Charles and polenta turned dolcemente into Indian pudding. The program’s equal mix of students, teaching fellows, and faculty from both places is key to the hybridity. Students meet their counterparts; faculty have instant colleagues. That the program

on the ground is administered (beautifully) by Ca’ Foscari gives its American participants a genuine and warm academic home abroad, not just rented premises. Above all, there is the programmatic mission to devise courses appealing to both sets of students and to make the most of being in Venice. My course examines the traditions of western ethics in relation to the natural world. That topic could be taught in many places. But the Venetian setting, and therefore the everyday examples I can use about the human uses of nature, render the stakes of the topic immediately apparent. Venice exists within a distinctive natural place; it is also a distinctly unnatural one. My students ponder many abstract or historically distant examples of human ethical lapses in relation to the natural world—those are important— but somehow the conversation runs hotter and faster when we talk about the rising waters of the Anthropocene in a city where the consequences will be devastating. Grazie, Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Annual Event for not being a typical “summer school.”


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


CFHSS 2009 – 2013 / 2015. Walter S. Barker Professor of Economics, Harvard University.

“Remembering Venice: Learning the Fine Art of Dolce Far Niente.” The first three years I taught at the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School, my digs were one floor of a palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal. As palaces go, mine was not so pre-possessing. It was a Giovanni-come-lately, having been built in the 18th century, after the Canaletto drawings. But, hey, you take what you can get. I said “overlooking.” I suppose I confused overlooking with overseeing. Many were the hours spent supervising canal traffic, with coffee, lunch, or ombra in hand to fortify me for the task. Often I was joined by my fiancée and sometimes by her two girls (who are now my stepdaughters). Very early, right after sunrise, the canal was quiet, with few signs of life. The occasional vaporetto, the municipal waterbus that does the lion’s share (no pun intended) of moving people around the islands. A little later, about breakfast time, began the deliveries of fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy products—all manner of provisions—to the dock at the end of the Calle del Traghetto, whence porters would take them in handcarts to the shops and restaurants, much as they did, I imagine, 100 and even 500 years ago. A bit later still the Veritas barge appeared for the garbage men to dispose of their handcarts of bagged refuse collected door to door. (I kid you not: Veritas.) Building materials, other deliveries continued throughout the morning. Meanwhile, the traghetti, gondolas carrying

passengers from one side of the Grand Canal to the other, began operations, as I imagine, once again, they have done for centuries. (Probably the biggest bargain in Venice: a real gondola ride for € 0.50.) Water taxis appeared from time to time, and the frequency of the vaporetti increased as early morning turned into day. Sometime after 10, the tourist gondolas began their parade. Our palazzo was at the end of a circuit that began at the Rialto Bridge, so we were rarely short of traffic. Often they came in small flotillas, with a singer ensconced in a central gondola. O sole mio became old very quickly, but I never tired of Volare (NelBluDipintoDiBlu). Sometimes the tourists would take photos of the Venetian nobleman who smiled down on them. Sometimes I would graciously even pause between sips of my ombra to wave. Did I forget the police? Not possible. The variety of police vessels—local cops, regional cops, and others whose designations I have forgotten—was itself striking. More striking were the gradations. The best boats belonged to the Guardia di Finanza. I suppose no surprise there. I was not a quick study, but perseverance paid off. By the end of the first summer I had mastered the fine art of sweetly doing nothing. How better to learn it than to watch life go by on the Grand Canal? You can too. I can give you the recipe, but it’s a bit like the recipe for unicorn soup.

10 year book of memories



CFHSS 2006 – 2015. Italian Language Instructor, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.

The teaching of Italian as a Second Language at Ca’ Foscari Harvard Summer School has been somewhat present from the first edition of the program, first with the “Survival Italian” framing activity and then also with the curricular course “Beginning Italian”. I have had the honor of giving both courses from the very beginning of the program. At the beginning I was just a Phd student in Language Teaching Research, with lots of theories in my mind and little experience. These courses have been a great opportunity to ‘test’ my hypotheses about methods and experiment new ways of teaching. Sometimes it has been hard because when applying for my courses some students expect me to start off by explaining Italian grammar rules (in English!), which is a common practice I don’t agree with, especially if you are learning that language in the country it is spoken. It would be like going to a restaurant and instead of being served your delicious spaghetti you only get an explanation of how to make them! That’s why ‘experience

first’ has been my motto, so I’ve always tried to engage students in ‘learning by doing’ activities, in which grammar rules are first found in a meaningful context (namely, a video, a flyer, a menu etc.) and then explained and practiced. After ten years I can say that this approach, although more demanding, is certainly more effective and fun to me and (hopefully) my students! One thing that I really like about these courses is that there is an incredible meeting of cultures in my classes, not only because many students currently studying at Harvard are not necessarily from the US, so they carry their own language and cultural background, but also because each year some Italian buddies are assigned to my classes. As a consequence, every year I learn something new in terms of language and cultural habits! In conclusion I am definitely grateful to CFHSS because it contributed to my enrichment from both a professional and a personal point of view.


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


CFHSS 2007 – 2015. Formerly Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University. Alexander von Humboldt Professor, University of Hamburg.

Teaching art history in Venice is, of course, an ideal. Whether I was teaching an overview class on the Italian Renaissance, a course on Venice itself, or a monographic class on Leonardo da Vinci, I always felt rewarded and inspired by the full immersion into monuments and works of art. Most students have a sense for the “effect of the real” and they respond with amazement, the fundament of all further efforts of understanding. The combination of classroom lectures and onsite visits provides a unique balance between more analytical and more sensuous approaches to a distant world that still has the power to captivate us profoundly. I always found the mixture of American and Italian students in class one of the most remarkable features of the CFHSS. I tremendously enjoy how students debate and open up to different attitudes of learning, of life. In general, Italian students develop a more personal, and more articulate engagement with topics and objects while their American counterparts discover a more nuanced sense for historical complexities and contradictions.

As a teacher, I am happy when curiosity develops into friendship among students. Of course, I’m also happy to hold office hours in a bar hovering above the canal! I realized that my teaching in the past nine years amounts to one full year of life in Venice. Those six weeks in the lagoon, and the reunion with colleagues who became friends, were an essential part of the specific rhythm of each year. Teaching on this island, with its abrupt changes of overcrowding and solitude, enhances concentration, calmness, poetic presence, and inspiration. It comes with a uniquely different pace and a wonderful sense of physical remoteness. The heat waves slow down everything, until powerful thunderstorms clear the air. I like the alteration between normal summers and Biennale years, when contemporary art invades the entire city and attracts a different kind of visitors. When the Summer School closes its doors by the end of July, the sun is most powerful, and another cycle has been completed.

10 year book of memories



CFHSS Student 2014. Harvard University.

I enrolled in the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard summer school because I was a senior and short a credit to graduate. And what better way to get a much-needed credit than a summer in Venice? Despite my purely practical reasons for applying, I was absolutely blown away by the friends I made and the experiences I had in those two short months. Part of the experience of Venice is getting lost. The first few days we wandered through narrow streets, canals, and churches and bonded over trying to read maps. Each corner brought a new hidden treasure – a gelato shop, a leather store, an unexpected dead end. As we gained confidence, we wove around tourists and took purposeful wrong turns in order to discover new nooks of the city. We ran across grand bridges and magnificent museums on our way to school, and it began to feel like we were living within an immense and living history. While we filled our days adventuring through Venetian streets, taking the vaporetto to the beach, and travelling throughout Italy, we still kept busy with courses. The classes I took in

the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard summer school were some of the most challenging and rewarding courses I have ever taken. From discussing Hemingway in the courtyard to having office hours over a glass of wine, I became closer to my two summer professors and teaching assistants than any other professors I have had. Everybody who joins Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School experiences the magic of Venice and the wonderful courses, but the truly unique and personal memories are some of the most poignant – waking to the faint sound of motorboats, waving through the window to the family across the canal, buying wine for dirt cheap in broken Italian, attending a neighborhood festival with one of the Italian students, eating lunch in between classes with feet dangling over water. These are the moments that I will never forget, the small moments where I truly let myself be part of this dynamic city and culture.


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


CFHSS 2007 / 2014 – 2015. Associate Professor of Mathematical Methods for Economics and Finance, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.

Lectures at the CFHSS are different from the standard ones: while in the latter you typically transmit certainties and discuss established facts or theories, in the former it is possible to depict analogies and foster critical thinking. I taught an “Introduction to complexity in economics and social sciences” in 2007, and again in 2014. Last year I dared to try the un-attempted, and challenged students to encounter complexity in a stunning work by Carlo Scarpa, a Venetian architect who left us, among many other jewels, the Brion Tomb in S. Vito d’Altivole. I myself was born a stone’s throw away from this building and I would ask myself numerous questions about it, questions that were superficial at first and which then became increasingly deeper as time and life elapsed. To borrow words from Ken Mossman, complexity is where “the more answers we find, the more questions we have”. Unleashed with basic ideas about complexity (and no previous knowledge of architecture),

students were led by the visit to observe that, say, “each element is not as we thought, and new events happen under our eyes as soon as we learn how to approach them” (Alberta Zatta) and “taken individually, the parts of the tomb -the arch, the linked circles, the asymmetric stairs- have no clear meaning, but taken together one can come to understand and experience the depth of love within [Brion’s] marriage” (Paul Wei). Indeed, our journey was enhanced by the guidance of a former student and collaborator of Carlo Scarpa, architect Guido Pietropoli, whose wise, open-minded and insightful comments enlightened subtle and emergent features of this funerary building, which we feel is designed more for the alive rather than for the dead. Unusual as it may look, I now believe that important intuitions can be learnt on economic and social complexity visiting a monument in the summertime in the Venetian countryside...

10 year book of memories



CFHSS 2006 / 2008. Associate Professor of International Law, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.

I was involved in the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School, first as one of the Faculty and then as the vice Director of this unique program. My work was to teach an Introduction to International Business Law course in a global context. This is a field within International Law delivering a coverage of the cultural, political, economic, and ethical issues that global business managers face from a legal perspective. Focusing on the trade, licensing and investment life-cycle that many domestic (new-to-international) and multinational organizations experience, the students were able to present market-entry strategies, increasing levels of foreign direct investments and, all in all, setting risks that firms going global encounter. I had fun discussing with the students – some of them now in practice, or in pursuing advanced degrees – issues such as trading, or protecting and licensing intellectual property, or learning the special challenges of doing business in developing countries and nonmarket-economies. I also remember with joy how new generations are interested in deepening the nexus between business and human rights

protection, a field in which I continue to work, and in which the UN today is continually trying to make progress. As vice Director of the program I was able to share the commitment of its teachers to overall student development and to building skills in a transnational context. The Venice program has welcomed outstanding scholars since its beginnings who have demonstrated inspiring passion, innovation and dedication in teaching. Not only do they infuse educational values into the teaching, they also take pains to make lessons come alive for their students: from mathematical concepts to Economics, to Law or Literature while organizing experiential learning journeys beyond the classroom so that students can learn more. Last but not least, working with Alide, the Director of the School and Megan, her right arm, has filled me with pride and enthusiasm, in the spirit of a true community of scholars and students working to make this world a better place for all.


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


CFHSS 2006 – 2008. Associate Professor of Watershed Management in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Dalhousie University (formerly of Harvard University).

My three years teaching at the Summer School bear special memory in that they correspond to a period of productive scholarship. During the first year, I transcribed previously published papers for the book “High Arctic Extreme Science: Environmental Research from the TransEllesmere Island Ski Expedition”, writing in the Introduction: “And so it has been in Venice where this book was prepared, the writing broken by trips on a vaporetto to visit the Giardini and there to gaze up at the statue [shown in a corresponding photograph] of the Italian explorer Francesco Querini, surrounded by his sled dogs, all immortalized in cold, white stone, and all staring fixedly into space toward the Lido but in fact representing their heroic last moments spent huddled together on the unforgiving polar ice.” During the second year, I edited a collection of papers concerning environmental remediation, resource management, and cultural revitalization from a Harvard conference for the volume “Handbook of Regenerative Landscape Design”. Therein I interpreted the global findings in terms of their adaptation to the challenges faced by Venice, with the cover showing the crumbling and lovely façade of Ca’ da Mosto.

For the third summer, I specifically focused my research on Venice, producing the first book to give equal weight to both the environmental and the social problems plaguing the city. The critical praise received by “Venice land Atlantis: The Bleak Future of the World’s Favorite City”, led to UNESCO asking me to give the opening keynote lecture at the international meeting on saving Venice. The web-enhanced book contains hundreds of photographs, of which one is particularly memorable, bringing smiles every time I look at it, since it recalls the many fine students that I had the pleasure of teaching. Its humorous caption reads: “Finally, a group of Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School students standing on a floodgate model joke around by simulating their own barrier against the flood of propaganda that they have been subjected to from various spokespeople for the MOSE project.” The photograph, portraying the laughing students with arms interlinked, has now been viewed by thousands of readers from around the world!

10 year book of memories



CFHSS 2006. Professor of Contemporary History, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.

My contribution to the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School regarded its first edition in Summer 2006. I held a course in Contemporary History on “The Idea of Europe and the European Idea of Nation”. I tried to provide an overview of European history and weave the account of ‘facts’ with a critical reflection on European ideology. Besides textbook and academic literature readings, we discussed seminal texts by Gibbon, Condorcet, Novalis, and others. Whereas the local students were homogeneous regarding the national background of their families, some of the Harvard students’ families had a recent immigrant background, so that points of view external to a merely Western perspective could enrich our discussion. I expected that on average Italian students were more accustomed to the idea that learning meant accumulating knowledge from books and lectures, whereas American students were more familiar with the idea that learning implied a critical discussion of established narratives, to which a professor should give methodological

assistance rather than pronounce verdicts of truth. To a certain extent, the experience confirmed my prediction: initially some of the Italian students abstained from active intervening, contrary to the American students who had instead some problems with mechanical memorizing of data. On the whole, however, the disposition to discussion and study turned out to be individual rather than depending on national background. Meeting after meeting the participants displayed increasingly actual group behavior. By interacting they learned to appreciate each other’s methods of study. The added value of Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School consists, I believe, precisely in similar transfer and learning processes. Although I already had experience with international groups, this was the first time I worked with undergraduate students. I loved the freshness and impartiality of the young students as well as the dynamics of reciprocal recognition, learning, and enrichment that are more difficult to observe among elder students with a more homogeneous background.


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


CFHSS Student, 2007 / 2008. Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.

“Ca’ Foscari – Harvard, summer’s cool!” That summer I was turning 21 and this, for a young woman, unlike turning 25, only happens once in life. Therefore, probably, it was the perfect moment for me, to experience something so unpredictably enriching. As an Art-History student who had always loved learning foreign languages as well, I was very excited about this challenge: studying “my subjects” in English, in such a dynamic context, learning a different method and academic approach to Humanities in general, meeting Professors and students from Harvard University… Attending CFHSS in 2007 also gave me the chance to meet many clever students from all over the world. People who were curious to discover something new, enjoy Venice and its rhythm, spend their summer – just like me – doing something… excellent. We studied a lot, read a lot, trying to get used to different

learning strategies, but we never lacked time to meet friends and go for a spritz, chatting, laughing and all this made my experience so nice that… I decided to repeat it two years later, with a different group, new subjects but, again, meeting nice people and interesting topics. After several years I still like going back in time with funny memories, remembering the smile of my friends and classmates, the things I’ve learnt, the great time I spent in Venice; and not only because of the (many) books on my shelves, which often remind me of those days. I’ve learnt a lot; above all, discovering another way to look at the art works, at their context, but also at the possibility of combining topics, perhaps, in a more personal way. Under a more long-term perspective, I can definitely say CFHSS helped me a lot in “inventing” my job and empowering my determination. Thanks!

10 year book of memories



2007 / 2012 – 2014. Associate Professor in Economic History of the Twentieth Century, Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia.

“Three summers at the school.” Well, they were actually four summers. I in fact also taught a course in business history in 2007, yet afterwards there was a long pause. I came back to the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School in 2012 with a course on the history of consumption. Walking under the sun to San Basilio, I initially pondered over the best way to present the class of the day. The subject may be Renaissance Venetian clothing, the changing gendered functions of sewing machines, or the impact of East African tribal fashion on Massachusetts cotton mills. The problem was not the presence of both American and Italian students. It was their different background in social sciences or in the humanities that troubled me. Then I discovered that disciplinary diversity was the engine of compelling debates among students. These started shyly and heated up as the larger connections with other issues emerged. In the process, the help of teaching assistants Olga, Chiara and Cristina was invaluable. They did not limit their task to take names

and signatures. Intervening in discussions, they made interacting with, and among, students much smoother. The course would never have succeeded if Lily and Megan were not solving unsolvable problems. Despite the huge workload, they were able to remain the kindest school managers I have ever met. In recent summers, I also discovered wonderful new colleagues and friends, and I had the occasion to discuss themes such as occupying Wall Street and the Venice Biennale with them at the round tables. The Summer School also made me rediscover Venice, with guided tours to the Marciana Library and to Ca’ Rezzonico. It even made me rediscover my home town, Bassano del Grappa, where I took students to get a closer look at 18th century populuxe goods. Our guide was Serenella, a former student in the school . She introduced us to the wonders of local ceramics and to the largest European printing house of the time. Following the visit we usually ended up at Nardini’s grapperia open at the side of the Palladian bridge since 1779....and toasted to the summer....and to the school.


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


CFHSS 2010 – 2015. Professor of African American Studies and English, Harvard University.

“The café in the middle of Campo Santa Margherita where I sat to write was a pleasant café, shady and clean and friendly, and I hung my leather satchel on the wicker chair and ordered a spritz with aperol. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the bag and a pen and started to write. I was writing about back in Texas and since it was a hot, blazing, bright day it was the sort of day in the story. The spritz was very cold and wonderful to drink. In one place you could write about it better than in another, I thought…” –from Amy Robinson, “Let the Pressure Build,” (Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School 2014) The quote above comes from Amy’s wonderful imitation of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, in which she uses Venice as he did Paris—as the context and muse for a meditation on the art of writing fiction. Amy wrote her piece for my class, ‘American Literary Expatriates in Europe’, which I have taught with great pleasure for our program since 2010. Paying particular attention to the use of omission, placement of objects, directions, simple everyday diction, and

transitions in time, Amy recreates Hemingway’s signature style while discovering new aspects of her own writing and producing what became an award winning short story that Professor Alide Cagidemetrio translated into Italian and published in Ca’ Foscari Magazine. I share this as one of many examples of what teaching for our program has meant for me: the joy of sharing fiction with bright, creative students in a beautiful city that has inspired artists for centuries. For five happy summers I have read Henry James’ and Mark Twain’s take on Venice with students from the U.S. and Europe, always discovering new aspects of their views as we admire James’ grace and Twain’s humor and debate what they “get right” about Italian culture and what they miss. For five happy summers I have been lucky to contemplate how expatriation shaped the fiction of a variety of other writers from Henry Miller to James Baldwin not only among bright students but also with great colleagues. Che colpo di fortuna per me, per tutti noi, che c’è stata la Ca’ FoscariHarvard Summer School!

10 year book of memories



CFHSS Student 2007. Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia // Program Coordinator, Harvard University.

“Becoming a Venibridgian: or, Sketches from the Life of a Program Coordinator, Graduate Student, and Human Being Straddling the Atlantic Ocean.” Summer 2007, second edition of the Ca’Foscari-Harvard Summer School, and there I am, embarking on something new, exciting, and frightening. After spending that summer struggling to learn how to write papers, and being exposed to things I had not even any idea existed, I found myself wanting more; more papers to write, more fun-tastic subjects to study. So, as if in a dream, or a fairytale, or, at times, a nightmare, I applied for a Ph.D. program at Harvard, got in, and now, in 2015, will hopefully graduate. If that were the only thing that the Ca’Foscari – Harvard Summer School program did for me, it would still be more than enough. But the Summer School gave me more, much more. It has been the place where, for the first time, I taught a lecture class, or where, also for the first time, I tried my hand at being a Teaching

Assistant or a Tour Guide. Now, summer after summer, I am given the chance to take care of “my kids,” those sixty American students that make my summer nights so “interesting,” who drive me crazy oftentimes, but who also make me feel so happy, appreciated, useful, and part of a wonderful community! Seeing them having fun, discovering Venice, making Italian friends, is a continuous reminder of why this, all of this, is worth it, year after year. The opportunity of continuing to be part of the Ca’Foscari-Harvard Summer School for seven years is what ultimately has allowed me to become a “Venibridgian,” spending my hot and humid summers in Venice and my long and cold winters in Cambridge—lucky me!—making me really experience and appreciate the best and the worst of both worlds. It has made me a better human being, a better professional, and a better academic. So, thank you, Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School, I wish you a million more of these fabulous summers!


10 year book of memories




“I was there 10 years ago, when it all began. Excitement, confusion, everything was new. We were challenged to invent solutions for almost everything, from selecting 60 top students out of over 200 applicants in no time, to finding solutions for academic recognition. We were about to create something unprecedented, and to experience what real joint academic cooperation means: merging together different cultures of teaching and learning, different habits and standards… not just another study abroad program, with a group of students safely packed up, transported to some far away culturally stimulating place, kept in cotton wool with no real exposure to “otherness”. 2006 was the first, pilot edition – we were still unaware of the full potential of the cooperation and of the program itself. For some reason I left shortly after the opening ceremony in July 2006 (first edition, huge work and tons of stress and emotion). Since then, I have had different positions in the Venetian institution. Until, a few months ago, the circle of life brought me back to working with the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School team and I was astonished at the results: 10 years of program editions, over 100 faculty and TAs, 1000 students, at least 10.000 friendships, relations, and pairing and marriages, and I can imagine 1.000.000 and more photos, messages and fond memories. And more to come…….”

“Looking at the sunset in the Canal; near to you a lot of new friends and you feel great: ok, for tomorrow your paper will not get written by itself, but damn, it’s summer in Venice, and fireworks are going to explode in thousands of colors reflecting in the water by midnight. Still thinking of the paper, oh let’s go ask my classmate what he thinks about the homework.…but we are good friends and even if we met only two weeks ago I already know him and the other guys well from spending time together in classes and from discussing all the new stuff we have been taught! And the foreign students: it’s so interesting knowing each other, we are so similar and so distant at the same time, but all of us are full of love of living and happy to be here, right now….. Wow the first fireworks! The show is beginning….and I’ve reached the solution for the homework, great! I need a piece of paper to write it down. Tomorrow I have an presentation in class and I want to do my best for my classmates and the professor. How could I forget this experience, thank you Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School!”


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School



“I watched the CFHSS be born, I witnessed its growth, I saw you transform a challenge into reality. It was hard work, but it gave me energy, experience and friendship….thank you! Happy Birthday CFHSS.”

“The Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School in Venice remains one of my favorite memories from college. The incredible opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, make lifelong friendships, earn credit, acquire new language skills, experience the Venice Biennale, and travel around Europe... was unforgettable. To be surrounded by history, learning not just in the classroom but from your environment, is so much more powerful than any textbook. The staff were all amazing, helpful, professional, and most importantly lead the program with great enthusiasm, and I continue to keep in touch with them, six years later. I can still close my eyes, and be transported back to the best summer of my life...”

10 year book of memories




“I personally thought the mosaics trips were one of the best parts of the program. I love traveling with friends anyway so it was great to be able to do so with the students here especially the Italians, who by the way are awesome! We got to see a mosaics restoration lab and some famous basilicas. My favorite though was going to San Marc’s Basilica- after hours! We got to go in when no tourists were around and look around in awe till our heart’s content. It is definitely one of the best memories I’ll be taking back. My thanks go out to the Professor and organizers!”

“A wonderful week, a dive into the ancient technique of Mosaic Decoration: Golden tessere, Roman mosaics, Ravenna, but above all….. the night visit to St. Mark’s Basilica. We had the mosaics all to ourselves, the breathtaking view was something indescribable. A million years of mosaic – all for us!”


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School



“Every day should be “end of plague day.” Strings of yellow paper lanterns + a bridge connecting Giudecca to the rest of the city + a speech by a bishop + vendors selling candy and roast nuts + Happy Feet balloons + hours of chilling on the roof with the entire program + a 45 minute fireworks display + spending the night on Lido = BEST HOLIDAY EVER.”

“Blisters, sores, blood came out from the poor and tired bodies of the inexpert and naive students who sealed their long and hard training with the final regatta. 2 caorline (6-man boats) with the well trained and competitive students disappeared in the Venetian lagoon and reappeared only to cross the finish line. The rest of the story remains a secret mystery as many other secrets the Venetian lagoon keeps to itself, and for every Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School students who personally took part in this piece of History.”

10 year book of memories




“The beautiful Venetian cook Patty administering the sweetest kind of dessert. One of the many great opportunities that Venice offers amongst others: we learned authentic Venetian recipes that exist in no cookbook but have been passed down by word of mouth; we learned how to complement each local ingredient with wine and had the opportunity to enjoy it on a private roof top overlooking the beautiful San Marco skyline.”

“I doubt many of us thought we would learn how to say “seal” in Italian, but thank goodness we did! Foca, as it became known, was the Giudecca hot spot for dinner, where you could always count on finding a handful of CFHSS students enjoying the tasty, and more importantly, cheap pizzas. Favorites included the traditional Margherita (for only 4.50!), the Stucky with spinach and ricotta cheese, and the Junghans, with brie and fresh cherry tomatoes. Split with friends or eaten alone, La Foca was an inescapable part of the Venice experience.”


10 year book of memories


Slogan Contest co-Winner, 2007.

Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Runner School All around our Venice we run (‘cause we had class) we run (to do our readings) we run (to write our papers) we run (to have a spritz as well) and up and down the bridges, under July’s roasting sun, in the ear, in the air, everywhere it sounded, the CafoscarinHarvardians’ …….flip-flop noise!! And even when you go back, I guess, dear friends, still it will be there the echo of our footsteps tip-tapping on the steps. July 27th, 2007



Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School


Slogan Contest co-Winner, 2007.

“PREGO” The photos of Venice’s sprawling canals and rustic building facades looked to me like Disneyland, even though Venetians take those waterways to work every day and raise families in those idyllic houses. The environment as soon as I landed in Venice for Harvard Summer Study Abroad was so tranquil that I had difficulty believing and settling into the slow pace of life. I felt lost in what seemed to me a foreign fantasyland and wanted the security of knowing where I was supposed to go, when to be there, and whether the word “prego” meant “you’re welcome,” “go ahead,” or “of course.” As the novelty of my surroundings wore off, I noticed the benefits I could glean from my experience in Venice were much realer than my surreal impression of the city had suggested. Of necessity I “went with the flow,” both literally and in the cliché figurative sense, as I waited for late vaporettos, got splashed by their wakes sitting on the bank of the canal, and tried to navigate Venice’s small and confusing streets. Such seeming inconveniences necessitated my taking few minutes to regain my bearings, whether by refueling at a pizza place, buying authentic Italian clothes, or just absorbing the glow of the sun and the inordinately welldressed Venetians. Even though one of my courses was taught by a Harvard professor, and the workload was more or less equal to that of a standard Harvard course, many other students and I suspended the hurry and striving common in Cambridge for six weeks of acceptance and wonder. Each of these approaches is conducive to learning in different contexts, and now my Harvard classmates and I can let the Venetian one color our remaining years, both together and apart. “Going with the flow” became a choice when my English class opted on a whim to have Italian beverages with our professor,

who helped teach some of us to, in his words, “drink gently.” The word “gently” could be used to describe the way I saw many Italians behave on a daily basis. They were never too busy to exchange kisses on the cheek with classmates and then, more often than not, plan to keep each other company after the heat of the day had passed. American students soon adopted their friendly customs, and about half the student s and professor s in the program were Italian, so that making Italian friends was nearly inevitable. As much planning as improvisation went into my Venetian experience. Venice’s proximity to so many other nexuses of culture was one of its main attractions, and weekend trips as far as Barcelona and Paris were some of the highlights of my study abroad experience. Making time for coursework and framing activities, such as Venetian rowing and pottery making, was also key to getting the maximum benefit from the program’s offerings. Still, not always having somewhere to be gave me time to look around my surroundings at any given moment and feel that, as opposed to just working in Venice, I was living there. “Prego,” by the way, means all three of my initial guesses: “you’re welcome,” “go ahead,” and “of course.” To me, this word represent s embracing the adventure of the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School, the people who do so, and the multi – faceted meaning they can discover as a result.

10 year book of memories



Creative Experience co-winner, 2014. Translated into Italian for publication in Ca’ Foscari Magazine & Co, 09.

“Let the Pressure Build” In the summer mornings I would work early while the other two girls still slept. The windows were open wide and the sun was drying the wet faces of the houses after the rain. The motorboats drove down the canal and a mother who lived across from us came to the window and dumped out a big pot of cloudy water. The children at the table across the canal ate bread with jam. They saw me watching them and ran to the window waving and I waved back and they shouted ciao. Their fingers were covered in red jam. We continued waving for a good couple of minutes. Then I placed two brown eggs in a large metal pot. I filled it with a knuckle’s worth of water above the eggs. The water simmered and I told myself I would write today. I scooped the two brown eggs from the boiling water and placed them on a large white plate. I poured some of the hot water over a tea bag. The two eggs looked quite nice on the white plate next to the tea in the white mug. I sipped the tea and the water did not taste too much like eggs. I placed my yellow notebook and felttipped pen on the table and it looked quite nice next to my breakfast. I wrote the date and liked how the ink of the felt-tipped pen soaked into the page. It felt like I was writing. I decided the eggs had cooled and put down my pen. I broke the top of the egg with a sharp tap of the spoon. The yolk was yellow and soft and hot. It was a perfectly soft-boiled egg and I only wished I had a nice crusty piece of bread. I brushed the broken eggshells into the trash and thought I would go down and walk to Campo Santa Margherita and I would write there instead. It was wonderful to walk through the narrow alleys and take a break from writing. Most days I had difficulty writing and would sit in front of the window and eat a juicy nectarine

and watch the motorboats drive by and the juice of the nectarine would drip into the water. I would stand and look out at the windows of Venice and think, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.” I walked through Cannaregio and by Strada Nuova. Streets in Venice do not have names. Only strangers use the names of streets. If I turned right I could walk past the leather shops and across the bridge and I would end up at Fondamenta dellaMisericordia where people sat on rugs and drank wine and ate ciccheti. But I kept walking and continued past the bright yellow signs to Ponte Rialto. I was learning something fromthe maze of streets and alleys that I walked every day. I was learning something from watching the shop owners standing in front of their windows and the beggars who touched your arm and the dogs who did not need leashes. I was learning very much about writing but I was not articulate enough to explain it to anyone. Besides I did not like to talk about writing to other people. I did not like to show my writing to people when I knew they would not like it. It took me three years to show the stories to my mother. I handed them to her before I went to bed that night. In the morning she walked up to me at the breakfast table. I sipped milk from a bowl and then put the bowl down. She stayed standing. “I read your stories.” “What did you think?” “They were painful to read.” “I know.” “They were beautifully written.” “Thank you.” I left for Venice four days later. I was lost for the first two weeks but some of the best discoveries were when I was lost and I always


found a nice little café to have an afternoon espresso. The café in the middle of Campo Santa Margherita where I sat to write was a pleasant café, shady and clean and friendly, and I hung my leather satchel on the wicker chair and ordered a spritz with aperol. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the bag and a pen and started to write. I was writing about back in Texas and since it was a hot, blazing, bright day it was the sort of day in the story. The spritz was very cold and wonderful to drink. In one place you could write about it better than in another, I thought. Moving was just as necessary with writing as with people. After finishing the spritz and eating the olive at the bottom, I decided to eat the lunch I had packed. I found a nearby canal with not too many tourists and sat on the steps near the green water. The sandwich of the bread was crusty and the cheese had melted in the sun and the pesto was delicious. The peach was firm and still cold. I ate it slowly until it began to lose its coldness and then I spit out the pit. I should not worry, I thought. I would start writing stories again I said and as I said it I did not know if it was true. Then I started to think about when I had first been able to write a story after it happened. It was down in San Antonio. It was a very simple story about a woman sitting by the pool and I had originally omitted the real end of it which was that she lost her mind. By this time I had put away my lunch and notebook in my satchel and turned to the right and crossed through Campo San Polo and was walking along the canal on the shortest way home. What did I need to write? What did I know truly and care for the most? There was no choice at all. There was only the choice of streets to take you back fastest after you ate lunch. I went up Calle Person to Toscana, then followed the yellow Rialto signs and paused on the Rialto to see the Grand Canal. I knew I must write about it. But it seemed an impossible thing to do. When is a story too familiar? When is a story not your own? When I had to write it, then it would be the only

Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School

thing to do and there would be no choice. Let the pressure build. In the meantime I would describe the Texan sun and the bluebonnets and the primroses and the taste of water from a hose in summer because those were things I could write about. Life had seemed so simple that morning when I had wakened and found the hot sun and heard the motors of the boats down the canals and gone out and walked the cobbled streets. But Venice was a very old city and nothing was simple there. Paint peeled under the beating sun. Cobbled streets through thin sandal soles. The line wound around the wine store and I joined behind two old men with curved spines and worn pants the color of dust. Tan skin and thick fingers and plastic bottles under arm crooks. I listened to their vowels slightly warped by drooping lips and saliva mouths. One spat. I held my own plastic bottle and tried to swim in language. Song of vowels and staccato consonants holding the beat. The rhythm and rawness and ripeness. The dusky room smelled like cork and pine and smoke and I ordered a liter of Malbec. Wine drops followed the ridges of the plastic before wiped away by a violet rag. Foreign coins on countertop. Grazie. Ciao. Low sunbeams refracted off wet cobblestones and pierced my eyes. Each stone a dot in a painting. Stones the color of rose, rust, rouge in the water. The soccer ball hit the brick and echoed in the square. Children shouted and I did not understand. Dodging, I walked by the driedupcistern and into the sand-colored courtyard with the blank-faced angels and iron halos. The weight of my bag bit into my shoulder. I opened the door to the bleached room and concrete floors that made my feet chalky. Rain darkened the blushing building faces across the canal. Brick exposed behind crumbling stucco, naked and indecent. A light show flickered in the distance and the air rumbled softly. Let the pressure build. The children stood on the balcony against

10 year book of memories

the indigo sky with mouths open and arms extended as if they could taste and embrace the world. Faces peeped from closed window shutters to watch the patter of water. And we all felt the warm mist of summer rain on our eyelids. The children saw me and waved and I waved back with both hands and we all danced and our voices filled the canal with Ciao! Ciao! Ciao! I folded my legs underneath me as I sat down at the table. Just write. Let the pressure build. It doesn’t have to be true or beautiful or simple. Wild cursive tumbled over lines. Big and bold. A string tangling and untangling into a yarn into a story into the biggest thing I knew. I’m going to write big. I’m going to write the biggest. I’m going to write the biggest and the quietest and about silence and nothing and the painfulness and tenderness of nothing. Painful and tender are synonyms and I believe it and I believe in words. Mostly. And spaces. Embraces. Always. It took me three years to show her the stories. I placed them on the table next to the potted cactus that never died. She wore her baby blue nightgown and her freckled shoulders tensed. I could see the vertebrae of her spine and the gray roots of her hair and I walked upstairs before she could read the first words. In the morning, I felt the Texan sun on my shoulder blades as it filtered through the half opened blinds and the yellow Esperanza bush. It would be another hot day and I thought of the grass yellowing and the lavender bushes shriveling into twigs. I fiddled with the blue and white placemat and crumbs rolled between the cloth creases. I drank milk from the blue ceramic bowl with the white chip and listened to her footsteps down the red pine steps. “I read your stories.” She held them between her delicate papery fingers and I put the bowl down. “What did you think?” I tried to look into her gray-blue eyes but her eyes looked at the wooden table’s pale water stains and dark tree rings. “They were painful to read.”


“I know.” I knew because I was there and I sat by the pool and listened to words sliding and slurring together and becoming something new and becoming not words. And I knew because I heard the glass table shatter in the thunderstorm and the car motor roaring and the biting raw words of truths and looked into wild eyes and in the end of the story she lost her mind and I knew yes I knew. “They were beautifully written.” She smiled softly and her eyelids fluttered wetly and I stood up and felt her braless breasts against me. “Thank you,” I whispered. Let the pressure build. I wrote and looked at the rust blooming on the exposed walls around the leaking gutters and the room felt bleached and I wrote. And I wrote and it was raw and I didn’t leave anything out and it didn’t have to be beautiful or concise and it didn’t have to be anything at all. There was no other story that I knew and it was the one that I had to write. I wrote and heard the clang of utensils of the children eating dinner and the motorboats driving by and the rain slowly turning to drizzle and the dog barking and why should I write about the past when this all was so beautiful? I wanted life to be simple and the hot sun to rise and Venice was a very old city and nothing was simple here or there.



Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School

10 year book of memories



The passing of time is unquestionably one of life’s mundane certainties, yet finding yourself in harmony with it is quite an extraordinary feeling. There are these occasional light-bulb moments which allow you to somehow breathe in the pieces of your entire past, and breathe out this perfect puzzle, complete, for now, in its imperfect idiosyncrasies. My first completed puzzle snuck up on me during the last few days of July, 2008. I was packing up the remaining paper cups from the final rinfresco with a combined sense of achievement and unapologetic relief after my first summer with the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School had – finally! – come to an end. At some point my train of thought – “next-nextnext…” – stopped; I raised my head, allowed the outside noise to filter in, and watched the 70 something students absorbed in conversation jump from cluster to cluster, signing each others’ Summer Books and fixing their plans for their final night on Lido. Scattered amongst them were Faculty members and TFs, all visibly relaxed and mingling enthusiastically with the students. Then it happened. I thought about the silence at Orientation, the awkwardness of the first social event, the curious conversations while walking to the first Framing Activities, my first encounters with Harvard Faculty members who were really sorry they were late, getting lost

on the way to my office and circling some square a few times. I thought back to the hesitant Ca’ Foscari students when applying for the enigma that was this Summer School with an Ivy League taking place at their own University, to their attempts at hiding – in some cases not very successfully – their nervousness at speaking in English during class and their insecurities over sharing a desk with those Harvard prodigies. I could taste the adrenalin of every urgent problem that had needed solving, and I could recall the name, the face, the classes, and the framing activities of every single student. I felt the enigma all of a sudden take shape: we did it! And look how happy everyone is! I could feel the two months passing as if they were a part of me. It felt so natural to be there. It felt like my place in the world. Exactly two years later I finished my third CFHSS and, teary-eyed yet determined, I said my goodbyes. I was leaving Venice – definitively. At the time, our Director, Alide Cagidemetrio, the unrelenting strength and inspirational creativity of our program, said grinning “You’ll be back”. I replied, also grinning, “I don’t think so”. However, I added: “If I were to come back to Venice, it would be for this job”. Well, we were both right; I did come back and it was because of my job. That moment in 2008 had never quite disappeared and, in fact, it still hasn’t.


10 year book of memories



Dean, Harvard Summer School

I first learned of the Venice study abroad program just about ten years ago--well before I joined the Harvard Summer School—when several of my Comparative Literature colleagues returned from their Venice study abroad sojourn with a more than usual summer glow. What I knew then was that my generous colleague, Werner Sollors, was essential to the shaping and success of the program on the Harvard side. What I know now, from my recent vantage point in the Summer School, is that the equally generous Alide Cagidemetrio, and Ca’ Foscari are the heart and soul of this esteemed program. Venice is one of the oldest of the Harvard Study Abroad programs, and in many ways, our flagship program. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Alide and her Ca’ Foscari colleagues who, together with Werner and our

Harvard colleagues, have made the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School happen year after year for a decade. On behalf of the Harvard Summer School, I offer heartfelt thanks for their fellowship and dedication, and celebrate with them 10 years of past and future joyful collaboration.

10 year book of memories



Rector, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

It was 2005 when Ca’ Foscari and Harvard University engaged with great vision and a long-sighted view for the future in the project of a joint Summer School. It was an ambitious challenge which was met with great success and tremendous satisfaction for everyone involved. Over these past 10 years the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School has provided the opportunity for over one thousand students to take part in a distinguished educational experience, through both courses which cover an extensive variety of subject areas and disciplines, and a rich program of extra-curricular activities. Year after year the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School has maintained its outstanding reputation for both its teaching and its international nature, creating a stimulating and intercultural environment that has allowed for a new and dynamic dialogue to take place between its students and the city of Venice.

I wish to deeply thank all of those whose work and dedication has contributed to building the Ca’ Foscari – Harvard Summer School into a prestigious and esteemed institution which over the years has continued, and strengthened, the tradition and international vocation of Ca’ Foscari. To each of them, and in particular to the Director of the School, I would like to offer my personal appreciation for their work and their commitment, with the best of wishes for a successful future of further academic excellence, relationships and opportunities that make this program unique, for another one thousand students.


Ca’ Foscari-Harvard Summer School

With many thanks to all CFHSS Faculty 2006 – 2015:

Michela Andreatta Silvia Ardagna Christopher N. Avery Carlo Barbante Duccio Basosi Shaul Bassi Giampiero Bellingeri Effi Benmelech Monica Billio Iris Bohnet David Bryant Glenda Carpio Marco Ceresa Amitabh Chandra Joyce Chaplin Guglielmo Cinque Francesca Coin Ennio Concina J. D Connor Joseph Connors Vera Costantini Michele Daloiso Leo Damrosch Laura De Giorgi Susan Dynarski Giovanni Favero Frank Fehrenbach Robert France Martina Frank Luis M. Girón-Negrón Flavio Gregori Jay Harris

Daniel Hojman Angeliki E. Laiou Paola Lanaro Marco Li Calzi Marina Magrini Guido Max Mantovani Antonio Marcomini Stephen A. Marglin Fabrizio Marrella Jérome Massiani Lisa McGirr Steven Ozment Noemi Pace Roberto Pastres Maria Pia Pedani Paolo Pellizzari Rolf Petri Andrea Pontiggia Valentina Re Peter P. Rogers Angelo Scarabel Marc Shell Werner Sollors Stefano Soriani Carl Steinitz Giuliano Tamani Gordon Teskey Cristina Tonghini Jan Van der Borg Giorgio Vercellin Stephen Wolohojian

With great appreciation we also thank all TFs who over the years have taken the time out of their precious summer study months so as to be a part of the program. We also thank those who have contributed indirectly to this publication with their photos and comments. All material comes from the CFHSS archives as provided by students and Faculty for promotional purposes.

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