Lecture: Primo Levi: Chemistry, Literature And Memory

Lecture: Primo Levi: Chemistry, Literature And Memory

Kino Tuškanac


Rector of University of Florence


13.04.2016. Cinema Tuškanac – 10 h

Video of the lecture:

Luigi Dei, PhD, a professor of physical chemistry and rector at the University of Florence, will give a lecture on the unbreakable bond between chemistry and literature at this year's, 10th Festival of Tolerance.

Luigi Dei was born in 1956 in Florence where he studied and in 1980 obtained a degree in chemistry cum laude. Seven years later he received his doctoral degree in physical chemistry.

He continued his career at the University of Florence – from 1990 to 2001 he was a scientific researcher at the Department of Chemistry, and then from 2001 to 2011 he worked as associate professor of Physical Chemistry and for the past five years he has been full professor of Environment and Cultural Heritage Chemistry. From 2001 to 2007 he was the president of the University Course on Technologies for Cultural Heritage Conservation, from 2007 to 2009 he was vice-director of Chemistry Department, from 2007 to 2012 a member of the Editorial Board of Firenze University Press, from 2008 to 2012 a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Florence, from 2015 a member of Academic Senates and the president of OpenLab Centre for scientific education and popularization of the University Florence. For a year he was director of the University Centre for Science and Technology applied to cultural heritage, and from 2013 to 2015 he ran the “Ugo Schiff” Department of Chemistry. In November 2015 he was appointed rector of the University of Florence, a duty that he will perform until 2021.

Apart from active and praised work at the University of Florence, during his career Luigi Dei was a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Langmuir of the American Chemical Society, and the next two years he was the vice-president of the Human and Science Class of the Academy of the Arts of Drawing in Florence.

He is external consultant of many Cultural Heritage Ministry Local Offices in Italy for topics concerning decay mechanisms and conservation procedures for wall paintings, stones and easel paintings. He has authored about 150 scientific publications in Peer Review International high qualified Journals and Reviews and Congress Proceedings or books. Luigi Dei is also a member of the Italian Chemical Society.

His scientific research mainly deals with the physical chemistry of dispersed systems and interfaces and physical chemistry of nanomaterials. In particular, in the last ten years his attention has been focused on nanoscience and nanotechnology, especially concerning synthesis, characterization and technological application of nanoparticles of hydroxides and oxides in the field of cultural heritage conservation. Since 2007 he started to write on science popularisation and relationship between science and literature, art and music.

He has been invited lecturer at the University of Rhodes, Hildesheim, Dresden, Montpellier, Cambridge, Georgetown Washington DC, Vienna, National Museum of Denmark, CEA Saclay, Paris, ICOMOS, Athens, British Museum London, Politecnico de Valencia, Centre for Restoration of Slovenia in Ljubljana and in several International Congresses on nanomaterials, nanoscience and nanotechnology with special emphasis on cultural heritage conservation.

In 2007 Luigi Dei edited the book “Voci dal mondo per Primo Levi. In memoria, per la memoria”, Firenze University Press and for the same publishing house he published the play “Molecole d’autore in cerca di memoria”. He gave many lectures on this subject as “Primo Levi’s lesson: A Bridge between Chemistry and Literature”, awarded by European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences as “European event” for the International Year of Chemistry.

He also authored a trilogy of theatre monologues on the relationship between science and music entitled “Revealing Ravel: science tells Boléro”, “From Schubert to André: the mysteries of the voice in music” and “From baroque to rock: with Darwin in the nature of the musical species” played in many theatres and Auditorium in Italy and published with the title “Musica scienziato! Trilogia di monologhi scientifantastici”.

The earlier mentioned drama "Molecole d'autore in cerca di memoria" ("Molecules of author in search of memory"), inspired by Primo Levi’s book “The Periodic Table” was played for the first time on the Remembrance Day on January 25, 2012 in Florence.

At this year's Festival of Tolerance, Luigi Dei will talk about Primo Levi, an Italian Jew, chemist and writer who survived the Holocaust – and in his lecture he will offer a scientific view of one of the stories from Levi's book “The Periodic Table” and will present his hypothesis on the relatedness of chemistry and literature.


  The lecture is organized in cooperation with the Italian institute of culture Zagreb. 

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