York celebrates 18th-century Italian author Giambattista Vico

On Nov. 1, York’s Faculty of Arts welcomed faculty and friends of the Italian Program and donors to the Vico Lecture Series. The lounge at the Seymour Schulich Bldg. was abuzz as guests arrived for the much anticipated lecture honouring the great 18th-century author, Giambattista Vico (1668-1744).

Left: Giambattista Vico

In his own time, Vico was relatively unknown, but from the 19th century onward, his views found a wider audience and today his influence is widespread in the humanities and social sciences.

The Vico Lecture Series, which is housed in the Faculty of Arts, first began at York in 2000 when Canadian Senator Jerry Grafstein donated two rare volumes of Vico’s works to York. The donated works, titled The New Science, are the first edition volumes, published in 1746 in original Italian. Grafstein decided to honour the University with the gift after York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden commented on the historic and cultural contributions made by Italians and the lack of awareness of these contributions among many Italian-Canadians. Grafstein also garnered the support of Elvio DelZotto, founder of the law firm DelZotto, Zorzi LLP, who rallied Italian-Canadian businessmen to fund an annual Vico Lecture at York. The Vico Lecture is held in memory of Fred Zorzi, late partner of DelZotto, Zorzi LLP.

Presented in the private dining room of the Seymour Schulich Bldg., the evening began with a warm welcome by Faculty of Arts Dean Robert Drummond, followed by the 2006 lecture which was delivered by Giuseppe Mazzotta, Sterling Professor in the Humanities for Italian at Yale University. Mazzotta is the author of groundbreaking books on Dante, Boccaccio, Vico and other literary figures of the Renaissance.

Mazzotta’s passion and enthusiasm were unmistakable as he delivered the lecture titled, Vico and The New Science. Guests listened carefully as Mazzotta brought them back in time into the mind of this great 18th-century author. The lecture was followed by some animated discussionsin which took place during the concluding question and answer period.

The evening ended with closing remarks by Professor Mauro Buccheri, master of Founders College, followed by a buffet dinner in the Seymour Schulich Bldg. Dining Hall.

The event would not have been possible without the assistance provided by Professor Elio Costa, Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics; Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus John O’Neill, Department of Sociology; Sylvia Kadlick, chief development officer, York University Foundation; and Anne Simone, administrative assistant to the dean, Faculty of Arts.