The “Cultural Heritage” Section of the Department brings together scholars working in the field of archeology, ancient history, art history and geography, with particular attention to the study of tangible and intangible cultural assets dispersed throughout the territory, whether historical, historical-artistic, archaeological or geographical. Particular attention is given to interdisciplinary research, both in a diachronic sense, and in the relationship with technologies applied to cultural heritage. The primary objective of the Section’s scholars is to achieve these objectives through the participation of the members in common projects and the collaboration with national and international universities and research institutions, expanding the already existing network of collaborations and contacts. As a part of its cultural and scientific objectives, the Section intends to carefully cultivate the relationship with Local Authorities (Region, Provinces and Municipalities) and with cultural associations, proposing itself as a partner for the promotion and dissemination, among the population, of knowledge on territorial cultural assets, as well as a consultant and provider of services for local area management and for the creation of museums and cultural centers.
Philological, Linguistic, Educational, Semiotic and Communication Disciplines
The constitution of this Section of the Department originates from the consolidated research experience of scholars from the above-mentioned disciplines within their departments of origin.
The field of philology is represented by two of the fundamental European traditions, i.e. those of Romance and Germanic philology. Their research is directed towards textual criticism, the hermeneutics of the literary text and the analysis of the literary and cultural aspects of the Romance and Germanic traditions, together with their relationship with the Greek-Latin world. It also concerns the study of the culture of the Germanic peoples, with particular attention to its legacy in non-Germanic linguistic areas, comprising also mythical elements and those transmitted by popular tradition.
Textual criticism is also a large part of Italian studies, ranging along a chronological arc that goes from the origins to the contemporary phenomena of Italian literature, and is committed to investigating, within a variety of methods, the national processes of literary formalization in both their historical evolution, and their affirmation as forms of reuse and reception of tradition, as well as in their evolving into textual products within the European literary culture.
The field of linguistic disciplines includes: theoretical studies on language; history of linguistic studies; diachronic, acquisitional and typological linguistics; sociolinguistics; language teaching methods; phonetics and phonology; morphosyntax; lexicography and lexicology; dialects; interactions between linguistics and computer science (automatic translation).
This Section of the Department also features foreign languages such as Albanian and Arabic and their literatures, studied with a diachronic and synchronic approach, with particular attention given to the contribution of these cultures to modern civilization, to local reality, and to the territories close to the Italian peninsula.
The field of educational research is outlined as an analysis of the subject in his/her relational practices, examining alterity and singularity both in multicultural contexts and in relation to the constituted forms of life, within which the educational axes are designed. A further research field is given by scientific reflection on methods and techniques of pedagogical-didactic research, attention to the quality of teaching and training, and strategies of inclusion and integration in educational practice.
In the field of communication sciences, communication processes are understood and studied in their broadest sense, as a production of human and social meaning within its various historical and cultural contexts. If the media are technical extensions of the human body and of its sensorial and cognitive potentialities, man in its entirety is the center of media issues, and with man also history, society, and culture. The field of Semiotics investigates the processes of signification by analyzing the communicative functioning of a large number of artefacts, ranging from advertising to architecture, through design and cuisine. By reconstructing the way in which the infinite and multiple translations between languages shape social reality, the strategic dimension of the communicative processes gets highlighted, thus bridging the gap between the theory of languages and the practice of communication sciences.
Human, Social and Political Sciences
By promoting collaboration and scientific confrontation between the different disciplinary competences, the Section places at the center of its research activity the issues mostly connected with the historical development of society, its contemporary dimension and its most complex social phenomena, partly in relation to global society, and partly identifying a privileged observatory in our region. In particular, the main lines of research concern inequalities, gender issues, cultural diversity, exclusion, cohesion, integration and public policies to combat exclusion and hardships, the nature and quality of services offered to citizens, cooperation and development, human rights, the new articulations of political, economic and social power, social service, welfare, mobility, international and internal migration, consumer behavior (also deriving from tourism flows and the use of leisure time), the transformations of space, the new forms of social and public communication.
The themes of the Cultural Studies Section cover the entire spectrum of interests of international cultural studies, both in their Anglo-Saxon version (Cultural Studies) and in their Austrian-German version (Kulturwissenschaften). In particular, the Section intends to develop themes that, starting from a study of modern and contemporary societies – and keeping in the background the specific relationships between Sicily and the Mediterranean area - allow to investigate aspects of literary and artistic production such as gender issues (gender studies), visual culture (visual studies), theater and music (performance studies and music studies), the study of tourism and cultural mobility, cultural identity in the era of globalization (the idea of local vs. global in literary and artistic production, migratory flows, multiculturalism), as well as theoretical issues related to the theory and history of European culture (Kulturgeschichte, Kulturwissenschaften). From a methodological point of view, the Section makes use of the heritage of theoretical disciplines such as literary theory, human geography, aesthetics, theories of art and political philosophy. The contribution of these disciplines favors the grafting of theoretical problems of philosophical origin onto artistic experiences and social analysis, aspiring to an investigation of the social impact of cultural facts with particular reference to the European context.
Studies on the Ancient World. Tradition and Comparison
The Section proposes a consciously perspective study of the Greek and Roman past in its diachronic development in all its phases up to the contemporary world. The critical approach to the textual, literary, historical and archaeological tradition will be accompanied by: an investigation into the transmission, reception and rewriting of the works and their themes; a comparative analysis of historical and cultural phenomena from the ancient world to today's world; a reflection on the concepts that over time have defined our knowledge of that world. Within its multiple objectives, the Section intends both to continue the tradition of the so-called classical studies and to accept the need for a clear relationship between its object of study and today's world, thus promoting the identification and development of research areas which, even within the inter- and transdisciplinary vision of cultural studies, constitute a barrier to the trivialization of the present and therefore the recognition of a complexity for which no knowledge can be considered superfluous. Under this perception, we wish that antiquity will be recognized as a disciplinary field providing true service to today's society, as it is the case (or should be) with all knowledge. It is the primary objective of the scholars of the Section to promote this vision through two parallel and inseparable channels: a) the interdisciplinary participation of its members in common projects and the collaboration with the international network of scholars and institutions that already for some time has united teams and research laboratories in Europe and beyond in an incessant and open dialogue on antiquity; b) an activity of correct dissemination and information in the appropriate public offices (starting from the school) that may actively insert our research into the processes of knowledge and critical awareness of the whole society. In particular, and in accordance with the University's three-year strategic plan, the research group intends to work on two closely interrelated axes: on the one hand, a meticulous activity of internationalization of research, accompanied by the necessary internationalization of teaching; on the other hand, a scientific activity aimed at fostering the growth of the University of Palermo, conceived as a centre of training and excellence within the Mediterranean basin, and as an interface between the South and the North of Europe, leading likewise a careful work of promotion and recovery of cultural heritage and ever-increasing integration between University and territory.
The “Historical Studies” Section stems from its members’ need to identify a new form of aggregation both in the studies and research carried out, and in the adopted methodology. In particular, the analysis of the relationships between the Spanish Crown and the Kingdom of Sicily, the reconstruction of transnational careers, the study of institutions, secular and ecclesiastical ritual belief systems and practices, and the investigation of political, social, cultural and financial dynamics within cities and state or feudal lands, constitute the basis of the research conducted by the section. The methodological approach shared by the section has a markedly interpretative and comparative character, which links synchronic and diachronic analyses, in order to provide the scientific community with reflections both on the evolution of the identified issues and the historicization of current affairs, so as to grasp their permanence and changes.