Valerio Ferme


“Leveraging the Dismisura: Theory and Practice in Translating the Mediterraneity of Franco Cassano’s Southern Thought”

In 2013, at a meeting of the AAIS conference, I was asked to offer a reflection to invited-guest Franco Cassano, the author of Pensiero meridiano, which I had recently co-translated with my colleague Norma Bouchard. My reflection to Cassano involved the translation of the terms misura (moderation, measure) and dismisura (lack of moderation, excess). I had been told Cassano had questioned why these multiple ways of translating the term had been used (though he had not answered a direct question of mine when I met him in Bari to discuss, among others, precisely the translation of this term). My presentation explores how, precisely because Cassano’s book uses the terms to highlight “tensions of opposite signs, those of earth and sea,” they are polyvalent and express more than a single interpretive key in which to read them. As such they embolden the translator to “play around” with them and transform them in the target text, so that the translator can transfer the ideological fluidity of the original in a textual fluidity that defamiliarizes the target language readers, and forces them to appreciate the original’s message in English even from the textual standpoint.


Valerio Ferme is Associate Dean for the Arts and Humanities, and Professor of Italian at the University of Colorado. His first monograph, Tradurre è tradire explored the role that translation from the American played to subvert the fascist regimes linguistic and aesthetic policies during the ventennio. Since then he has published a co-authored book on Italy and the Mediterranean in the Post-Cold War Era (2013), a single-authored book on Boccaccio’s Decameron (2015), and has co-edited two additional volumes on Work and Labor in Italian Culture (2014) and Cities in the Mediterranean (2015). He is also the co-translator of Southern Thought and Other Essays on the Mediterranean by famed sociologist Franco Cassano (2012), and the author of multiple essays on Italian literature and translation. He is currently at work on the translation of Carlo Capogreco’s I campi del duce (est. 2017).