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Villanova Professor’s New Book Offers In-Depth Look at the Birth of Italian Industrial Culture

This is the cover of "The Art of Objects" by Luca Cottini, PhD

VILLANOVA, Pa. – A new book by Luca Cottini, PhD, associate professor, Romance Languages and Literatures and coordinator of Italian Studies at Villanova University, explores the emergence of industrial modernity in Italy at the turn of the 20th century from the dual perspective of literature and industry.

In The Art of Objects: The Birth of Italian Industrial Culture, 1878-1928 (University of Toronto Press, 2018), Dr. Cottini traces the origins of the Italian culture of design in the social and aesthetic construction of the age’s most iconic industrial objects, including, among others, alarm clocks, bicycles, gramophones and cigarettes.

“Italian businesses of the period often anchored an industrial company to culture and the humanities, legitimizing entrepreneurship as a liberal art, not just a technique to make money,” Dr. Cottini explains.

“With its focus on the early phase of Italian industrialization, The Art of Objects offers a new and valuable contribution to the larger debate over the nature and meaning of Italy’s social, economic and cultural modernity,” noted reviewer Anthony L. Cardoza, PhD, professor of history, Loyola University Chicago. “As Luca Cottini argues, the success of Italian design, as well as the appeal of Italian glamour, required a rethinking of facile generalizations about the country’s failed or incomplete modernity."

Dr. Cottini will give a talk on his book Monday, Oct. 29 at 4:30 p.m. in the Speaker’s Corner of Falvey Memorial Library at Villanova. A scholar of modern and contemporary Italian literature and a cultural historian, Dr. Cottini is also the host and creator of the podcast “Italian Innovators,” available online, on Itunes and Sound Cloud.

Dr. Cottini’s talk is a part of the Villanova University Italian Studies Department’s year-long lecture series, “Italian Fashion and the Pursuit of Beauty,” which evaluates the intersection of art, fashion and beauty. The series is sponsored by the Richard and Mary Anne Francisco Endowed Fund, which supports the Italian Studies lecture series annually. It is co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Art History program and the Gender and Women’s Studies program. All lectures are free and open to the public.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.