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Stefano Franceschini as guest scholar at the CIMIG

Dienstag, 07.02.2023

Stefano Franceschini is a PhD student at Roma Tre University. The Italian Association for North American Studies (AISNA) awarded him the 2021 edition of the Caterina Gullì prize for his MA dissertation on H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmicist tales, A New Supernatural Literature: Cosmic Art and Parascience in H. P. Lovecraft’s Fiction. He is currently member of AISNA and of the scientific committee of the Center for American Studies in Rome. He has published articles and reviews on H.P. Lovecraft, Ambrose Bierce, and Richard Powers. His research interests include intermediality, Gothic and weird fiction, semiotics, and philosophy of music.

Stefano's doctoral project—“What Does That Tune Mean?”: Phonosemiosis and Heteromediality in Richard Powers’s Novels—seeks to examine the interconnection between meaning, music, and sound in the works of Richard Powers, with a focus on the musicality of the novels The Gold Bug Variations (1991), The Time of Our Singing (2003) and Orfeo (2014). These texts can be read as instances of the multiple ways in which the author expresses in literary form the belief that music operates as a system whose units, structures and functions stand for something other than their acoustic signifiers. However, Powers’s acute sensitivity to sound is not limited to musical semiosis in the strict sense; even in those novels where aural phenomena are only marginally thematized—including The Echo Maker (2006) and the more recent The Overstory (2018) and Bewilderment (2021)—the author hears and registers a pervasive sonic network that inevitably presents itself as meaningful.

Stefano is currently conducting research at the Center for Intermediality Studies in Graz as a recipient of the “Ernst Mach Grant Worldwide” scholarship. Here in Graz he is specifically working on Richard Powers’s novel Orfeo. His analysis of the book takes off from its most significant refrain, which repeatedly occurs through the perspective of Peter Els, the story’s protagonist: “Music doesn’t mean things… it is things.” Conceptually drawing on philosophy of music, he wants to use the character’s musical motto as the starting point for his interpretation of the novel, which is rooted in the comparison between two distant views in regards to musical meaning-making: formalism and expressionism. Given the relevance that the connection between music and meaning takes on in the novel, his ultimate goal is to contribute to stimulate readers and listeners alike to think of and experience music more critically, especially in view of the ubiquitous presence of noise, sounds and music in today’s hypermedial Western society.

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