Walls that Bridge; or, What We Can Learn from the Roman Walls


Giorgio Mariani
University of Rome “La Sapienza”

Walls that Bridge;
or, What We Can Learn from the Roman Walls

Abstract: When, during the latest US electoral campaign, Pope Francis criticized Trump’s idea of building a wall between Mexico and the US, reiterating his favorite  point that “we do not need to build walls, but bridges,” the Trump camp retorted that the Pope lives in a city state surrounded by walls, in a city itself surrounded by other walls dating back to ancient Roman times. Why wasn't he concerned with those walls? As one can see, even though Roman walls have completely lost their original function and survive mainly as tourist sites, they also remain powerful political and cultural symbols. The scope of this essay is to offer, from the perspective of an Americanist who was born and raised in Rome, some comparative reflections on  what we can learn today from the history of Roman walls, as well as from their symbolic afterlives.

Keywords: Roman walls, walls as rhetoric, US literature, walls as bridges, walls as dividers


Roman walls; walls as rhetoric; US literature; walls as bridges; walls as dividers

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Published : 2018-06-30

MarianiG. (2018). Walls that Bridge; or, What We Can Learn from the Roman Walls. Review of International American Studies, 11(1). Retrieved from https://www.journals.us.edu.pl/index.php/RIAS/article/view/6384

Giorgio Mariani  giorgio.mariani@uniroma1.it
University of Rome “La Sapienza” Italy  Italy

Giorgio Mariani teaches American literature at the Sapienza University of Rome, where he directs the doctoral program in Sciences of the Text. The immediate past president of IASA, his research interests have focused on nineteenth century American literature, on contemporary American Indian literature, on the literary representation of war and peace. He is a co-editor of the Italian journal of American studies, Ácoma, and was recently appointed editor-in-chief of RIAS, The Review of International American Studies. He is the author, editor, and co-editor of several volumes. His most recent book is Waging War on War. Peacefighting in American Literature (U of Illinois Press, 2015).

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