Chaos and Light at La Trobe University

The Mediterranean Imaginary in Maltese Literature, and Beyond

Aerial view of the La Trobe University Bundoora campus in Melbourne that covers an area of about 2 square kms.
Aerial view of the La Trobe University Bundoora campus in Melbourne that covers an area of about 2 square kms.

On Monday 11th August, at 4.00pm – 5.00pm, in HuEd 106 I will be speaking about “Chaos and Light. The Mediterranean Imaginary in Maltese Literature, and Beyond,” as part of the European Studies Research Seminars hosted by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Bundoora.

The European Studies Seminar Series explores a wide range of topics related to European cultures, history and literature, including European interactions with other parts of the world.

logo latrobeThis series is coordinated by Dr Isabel Moutinho, Coordinator, Spanish Program (with Portuguese), School of Languages, Histories and Cultures in the Faculty of Humanities.

I will be talking about how the dominant, rather exotic Mediterranean narrative of unity and light in Maltese literature and beyond is unsettled by colonialist depictions of the Mediterranean as backward, uneducated and lawless in Juann Mamo’s iconic novel in Maltese, Ulied in-Nanna Venut fl-Amerka (1930-31) (Grandma Venut’s Children in America) and in more recent literature that portrays the Mediterranean as a cemetery, as does Walid Nabhan’s fiction in Maltese. Malika Mokeddem’s novel in French, N’zid (2001) offers an interesting narrative of a contemporary female Odysseus struggling with an undefined but clearly loaded past and an unsettling present. Unsurprisingly, the Mediterranean imaginary is a contested cultural space just as much as it is a contested physical entity.

Special thanks to Dr Brigid Maher of the Department of Italian Studies.


Comments about the talk:

Dear Adrian,

I just want to thank you formally for the very inspiring seminar you gave us yesterday. You raised all sorts of questions that struck a chord with so many of us, staff members, who are essentially Mediterranean in a very disparate department. This ensured the warm discussion that followed. I was delighted to hear your combination of scholarly work, breadth of erudition and, very noticeable to me at least, the sensibility of the poet as well. It was a real pleasure, and also very stimulating. I can’t wait to follow up some of the leads you proposed.

Warm regards,

Dr Isabel Moutinho

Dear Adrian

It was a great pleasure to meet you and hear your stimulating talk. You brought out the teasing ambiguity of the Mediterranean as being on the one hand a unified geographical regions and on the other hand a boundary between North and South and between East and West, with Malta perched close to both divides.

Best wishes,

Prof. John Gatt-Rutter

Honorary Associate, La Trobe University (Melbourne) and Italian Australian Institute

Dear Adrian,

Thanks so much for coming out to speak to us. Your paper was a perfect fit for the range of research areas in our department, and you could see how stimulating everybody found it. It was a perfect start to the semester. I hope to be along for at least part of your poetry reading on Sunday.


Dr Brigid Maher

Lecturer | Italian Studies | School of Humanities | La Trobe University

European Studies Research Seminars

Semester 2, 2014

All seminars will take place at 4pm in HuEd 106

Monday 11 August

Adrian Grima, University of Malta, Malta

Chaos and Light. The Mediterranean Imaginary in Maltese Literature, and Beyond


Monday 25 August

Daniel Ogden, Örebro University, Sweden

Was Sir Thomas More a Machiavellian?


Monday 6 October

Juliane Roemhild, Future Ready Program, La Trobe University             

Title TBA


Monday 20 October

Luísa Fortes da Cunha, child sports safety researcher and writer of children’s and young adults’ literaturePortugal

Title TBA.



Recordings can be downloaded for free from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s