Celebrating 11 years of Italy Reads at John Cabot University in Rome

In 2009, Professor Carlos Dews, Director of the JCU Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation at John Cabot University, began the Italy Reads project when the National Endowment for the Arts awarded John Cabot University the first and only grant outside the United States to fund “The Big Read Rome”.

Read about how JCU has used literature to promote social responsibility among its student body, professors, and the Italian community of teachers of English and Italian high school students in Italy for the past 11 years!

Celebrating 11 Years of Italy Reads at JCU

In 11 years, the program has changed its name to “Italy Reads” and has read 11 books including “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman, Flannery O’Connor’s “Short Stories”, Poems by Emily Dickinson, “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway, “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers, “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

In 2020, Italy Reads will be reading “Silent Spring” written in 1962 by Rachel Carson. Rachel Carson is credited with advancing the global environmental movement and her non-fiction book is a science book that deals with the adverse environmental effects caused by the use of pesticides.

“Silent Spring” is a timely book and even after 60 years it still is very pertinent and teaches us lessons that we need to share as we face an environmental catastrophe.

Italy Reads in 2021

In 2021, Italy Reads chosen book is “Beetlecreek” by African-American writer William Demby. Demby’s novel is also timely, in the context of the Black Lives Matter Movement, as it deals with xenophobia and racism in the American South. Italy Reads has worked with over 200 teachers and 60 high schools, and besides reading the book in high schools, there is also a keynote address, a theatre project with the “English Theater of Rome” and an Italy Reads video contest, and finally a volunteer program whereby John Cabot University students go into Italian high schools and read the book with the classes.

Department Chair and JCU English Professor Carlos Dews

Prof. Carlos Dews

Professor Carlos Dews was born and raised in Texas and studied at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Minnesota, at the New School in New York. He is married to an Italian who lives in the Italian region of ” Le Marche”. He enjoys Italian food, museums, and absolutely loves to visit antique flea markets all over the country.

Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate (2001-2003) writes “Interweaving several narrative lines, Carlos Dews has fashioned a raw, suspenseful autobiographical narrative. His prose is clear and steady, one sentence after another pulling the reader forward and down deeper into many overlapping raw, eye-opening stories of human survival. Hush has a gripping, mesmerizing power that will bring you in and not let you go.”

He is an accomplished author and has published two thrillers, co-written with his friend S. J. Rozan, under the pseudonym of Sam Cabot. The books are “Blood of the Lamb” and “Skin of the Wolf”. In September 2020, Dews published his most recent novel, “Hush” with Negative Capability Press. The novel is about four women in a family who cling together to survive in times of war, poverty, and prejudice and the book makes you fall in love with the characters as they struggle in their dire circumstances looking for hope and solace. 


Are you interested in joining the Italy Reads Program while you earn your American-accredited degree or study abroad at JCU? Learn more by contacting [email protected]!

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