French and Italian | Seminar in Italian Film
M500 | 2707 | Bondanella


Topic: "Italian Film Culture from Fascism to Neorealism"

M500 and its joint listed counterparts in other departments (CMCL
C596, CMLT C790, and CULS C701) will examine the film and literary
culture of Italy from the fascist era (1922-43) to the end of the
neorealist period in the immediate postwar period (1943-1955). The
course will focus upon the search for realism during the period in
literature and cinema. The course will begin with a consideration of
fascist ideology and theory, based on readings in an anthology of
major fascist writings: A Primer of Italian Fascism. Attention
will be paid to the role of spectacle in the fascist period through
the reading of several secondary sources, including Ben-Ghiat,
Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945; Falasca-Zamponi,
Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's
Italy; and Affron and Antliff, ed., Fascist Visions: Art and
Ideology in France and Italy. A number of key films produced the
fascist period will be examined: Visconti's Ossessione (1942),
two of Rossellini's pre-neorealist war films— La nave Bianca
(The White Ship, 1941) and L'uomo dalla croce (The
Man With a Cross, 1943)—as well as film comedies (Camerini's
Il signor Max/Signor Max, 1937); historical narratives
(Blasetti's 1860); historical fantasies (Blasetti's La
corona di ferro/The Iron Crown, 1941); and LUCE documentaries
produced by the regime. In the postwar period, several key neorealist
films will be examined: Rossellini's Roma cittą aperta (Open
City, 1945)and Paisą (Paisan, 1946); De Sica's
Sciuscią (Shoeshine, 1946) and Ladri di biciclette
 (The Bicycle Thief, 1948); Lattuada's Senza pietą
(Without Pity, 1948); and De Santis's Riso amaro
(Bitter Rice, 1949). Literary texts examined include novels
written under fascism and immediately after the fall of the regime:
Alberto Moravia's Gli indifferenti (The Time of
Indifference, 1929); Pavese's Paesi tuoi (The
Harvesters, 1941); Vittorini's Conversazione in Sicilia
(In Sicily, 1941); and Calvino's Il sentiero dei nidi di
ragno (The Path to the Nest of Spiders, 1947). Most of the
major texts on fascist theory and all of the novels examined in the
class are available in English and will be placed on library reserve.
Most of the films have English subtitles. Students who lack a
knowledge of Italian sufficient to screen the films without English
subtitles will be asked to see the films but will not be responsible
for writing research papers on them during the course. All students
will be required to complete a research paper and to make organized
presentations to the seminar, analyzing specific aspects of films
screened or novels read during the semester.