It has been a busy year for Ph.D. candidate Carlotta Vacchelli! As she works on her dissertation in Italian Studies, she has also been coordinating a study abroad program in Italy and serving as the Assistant Editor for an online journal of Italian popular culture, all while responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
"Carlotta goes beyond what is expected of her," Dr. Karolina Serafin, Director of Language Instruction in Italian, says, describing Carlotta's passion and dedication towards not only her studies, but also her students. Carlotta was an Associate Instructor on the Florence study abroad program in 2018 and 2019. This past spring, in working as the graduate coordinator of the ASPIRE study abroad program in Salerno, Italy, Carlotta taught Italian culture, coordinated and lead extra-curricular activities, and organized housing and travel arrangements for the students. Despite the challenges inevitably brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19, including a move to Malta and then an early end to the program, Carlotta found the experience enriching for herself and her students. "Italy, culturally and pedagogically, is an inexhaustible learning source: everything and everyone has a story to tell," she says.
In the last year, Carlotta has also been involved in the establishment and management of an online journal devoted entirely to Italian Popular Culture. Her work as the Assistant Editor for Simultanea entails corresponding with contributors, screening and selecting submitted articles, editing journal issues, and managing the journal's website. The editor of the journal, Professor Andrea Ciccarelli describes Carlotta as the "soul" of the journal: "Journals and conferences are some of the most visible performances that enhance the reputation of an academic unit, and the fact that a graduate student is so much behind all of this is simply impressive," he says.
Carlotta describes her experience working for the journal as ideal because of her "lifetime passion in comic books, as well as visual arts in general." Carlotta's work on comics extends beyond Simultanea. Her dissertation, entitled La funzione-Pazienza nel fumetto italiano ("The Pazienza-function in Italian comics") focuses on the influence of counterculture comics auteur Andrea Pazienza (1956-1988) on the current generation of Italian comics artists. In Spring 2020, Carlotta received an Olga Ragusa Travel Fellowship to organize an exhibition on Andrea Pazienza at the Centro Fumetti Andrea Pazienza in Cremona, Italy. Carlotta also helped organize an online conference on Italian popular culture hosted by Simultanea, which took place last month. The opportunity to be in contact with fresh perspectives and leading experts in the field has enriched her graduate studies in invaluable ways.
The Department of French and Italian recently recognized Carlotta for her many service activities by giving her one of two inaugural Graduate Student Service Excellence awards. We commend her and wish her luck as she finishes her dissertation this summer.