The grant was made possible by his friend Stefano Rosso, an Italian professor, who is a long-time member of the Western American Literature Association.
“The intent is that I get to research in their library, exploring how the American West plays in Italy,” Weltzien said.
Weltzien has prior experience in the world of Italian academia; he made a few stops at various universities in Italy on a lecture tour of Europe years ago. As a part of his grant, he will be giving lectures to faculty and interested students in addition to his research.
The way Italians perceive the American West is all the more interesting because of the popularity of spaghetti westerns, popular Italian westerns set in the United States but filmed in countries including Croatia and Spain.
“It’s the Italian opera effect. They’re baroque. That’s what’s most fascinating to me. At the end of ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,’ it’s like dueling tenors,” Weltzien said.
On what he plans to focus on specifically during his residency, Weltzien said, “I’m most interested in Western American mythology in film and fiction and how it’s perceived.”
Professor Weltzien believes his time in Italy will help make him a more well-rounded educator.
“I like to bring the world to Montana Western as much as I can. It’s good to bring in experience from the big broad world.”