NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — John Champagne, 2018-19 Penn State Laureate, will continue his statewide travels with a visit to Penn State New Kensington, where he will speak from 12:05 to 1:20 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, in the campus’ Forum Theatre.
Champagne, professor of English and chair of the Global Languages and Cultures program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will present “Art and Politics: The Case of Corrado Cagli,” an examination of the problematic and contradictory relationship between Italian painter, sculptor and muralist Corrado Cagli and the fascist government that supported him.
An annual faculty honor established in 2008, the Penn State Laureate is a full-time faculty member in the arts or humanities who is assigned half-time for one academic year to bring greater visibility to the arts, humanities and the University, as well as to his or her own work. In this role, the laureate is a highly visible representative of the University, appearing at events and speaking engagements throughout the Commonwealth.
The presentation will expand on Champagne’s research for a book he is writing about the artistic culture of the Italian fascist years, 1922-1945, and the relationship of art to the regime. During his multidisciplinary program, he will explore how and why artists intervened in politics, the response of the government, and how art continues to play a role in current times.
“Do artists have a responsibility to politics?” he asked. “What is our obligation to art of the past, and what does history suggest to us about the role art plays in world politics today?”
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he wrote his first novel, “The Blue Lady’s Hands” (Lyle Stuart, 1988), while an undergraduate at Hunter College in New York City. His second novel, “When the Parrot Boy Sings” (Meadowlands, 1990), was published two years later.
After completing a master’s degree in film studies at New York University in 1988, Champagne earned his doctoral degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. That same year, he began working at Penn State Behrend, where he teaches courses in literature, film, philosophy, composition, and Italian culture. He also has taught ethnic American literature and media theory at the University of La Manouba in Tunisia as a Fulbright Scholar.
Champagne also is the author of three nonfiction books — “The Ethics of Marginality, A New Approach to Gay Studies” (University of Minnesota Press, 1995), “Aesthetic Modernism and Masculinity in Fascist Italy” (Routledge 2013), and “Italian Masculinity as Queer Melodrama” (Palgrave 2015) — and currently is at work on a study of Italian artists in the fascist years.
“Art and Politics: The Case of Corrado Cagli” will be presented at 12:05 p.m. on April 18 in the Penn State New Kensington Forum Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact the campus’ Office of Academic Affairs at 724-334-6030.
For more information on the Penn State Laureate program, visit vpfa.psu.edu/penn-state-laureate.