Director of Italian Studies Honored for Two New Publications

Alessandro Carrera on stage receiving award statue

The UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is proud to congratulate Alessandro Carrera, a Moores Professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, on receiving the 2019 Flaiano Prize for Italian Studies.

Each year, the Italian Cultural Institutes select an outstanding Italian scholar working abroad to receive the Flaiano Prize, a prestigious award named for renowned Italian author and screenwriter Ennio Flaiano. Carrera, who also serves as the director of Italian studies and graduate director of World Cultures and Literatures at UH, won the award for his book, “Fellini's Eternal Rome: Paganism and Christianity in Federico Fellini's Films,” released by Bloomsbury Publishing earlier this year.

“I am thrilled that Professor Carrera’s brilliant work has earned him one of the most coveted awards in all of Italy,” said Antonio D. Tillis, dean of CLASS. “He is a testament to the global reach and influence of our faculty, who come to Houston from around the world to share their expertise and enthusiasm for scholarship with our students and community.”

Carrera was honored alongside film directors, actors, television personalities, and fiction writers at a July 6 ceremony in Pescara, Italy.

“Unfortunately, I could not bring the prize—a stylized statue of a horse—back with me to Houston,” Carrera said. “I had to leave it at my home in Milan. It’s quite fragile, and I didn’t want it to break during my travels. I asked the organizers if they had a box to put it in. Strangely, they had never thought of that!”

Although he isn’t able to display the award in his office, Carrera is grateful to be in the company of the many influential Italians who have earned the Flaiano Prize throughout its history.

“The Flaiano Prize makes me very happy,” Carrera said. “Years ago, I published a collection of short stories, and one critic in Italy said that there was something ‘Flaianesque’ about it. I hoped that all the signs were pointing in the right directions, and they did.”

Just a month after he received the Flaiano Prize, Carrera’s latest book, “Il colore del buio (The Color of Darkness),” was published in Italy. This short essay, which Carrera considers an homage to Houston, centers on artist Mark Rothko and the city’s iconic Rothko Chapel.

“The Rothko Chapel compels you to react to it,” Carrera said. “Whether you like it or not, you cannot forget the first time you set foot in it. I like to show it to guests to recapture my first experience of the chapel from their astonished look.”

Carrera will discuss the book as part of a panel in Milan later this year.