Italian Cinema: History, Context and Analysis
Ellen Nerenberg • Thursday, 6:30-9:15 p.m. (OR, if possible, with screenings beginning at 6:00 p.m.)
NOTE: This is a proposed syllabus. The definitive syllabus will be distributed at the first class session
|Our subject is Italian cinema, from the "golden"
era of silent films to approximately the mid-1980s. We will examine films
both for their cinematic particularity as well as for their historical,
social, and cultural importance.
We will spend the majority of our time on cinema produced after World War II, including films by Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Visconti, Bertolucci, and Wertmuller. What were the effects of the War on Italian society? How did the "Economic miracle" of the postwar "Boom" affect Italian culture? How was the memory of the War and Fascism represented cinematically?
This course has no prerequisites, and no prior knowledge is assumed. Students will read one chapter of Louis Giannetti's Understanding Movies each week, alongside readings explicitly linked to the films, in order to solidify their existing knowledge of cinematic terms and concepts.
At each class session we will screen the film and then discuss it. Students will be required to see three films, detailed below, on their own before class sessions. Please see special note immediately below
|Special Note About Class Time
So that we may adequately discuss the films the evening of their screenings, we will need slightly more time. We will explore at the first class session the possibilities of either beginning at 6:00 OR concluding at 9:15. Three films (Rocco and his Brothers, La Dolce Vita, and The Conformist) are too long t accommodate our screening and discussion in one evening. Students should see these films BEFORE the dates indicated on the syllabus. These films are readily available as rentals (Blockbuster and internet rental sources), through public library loan, and, as a last resort, are on reserve at Olin Library. Class time will be reduced accordingly on these evenings.
Professor Millicent Marcus, DeVito Professor of the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak on the Italian cinematic representation of the Holocaust at the Russell House on Monday, April 26 at 8:00. This presentation, firmly anchored to the material of the course, will be considered a class session. This presentation, as well as the Colloquium the following morning (Tuesday, April 27, 9:30 am, Center for the Humanities), should your schedules permit, are designed with this course in mind.
Understanding Movies (9th edition) (available at Broad Street Books)
|January 26||Introduction, The Golden Era of Silent Cinema
Cabiria, dir. Pastrone, 1913 (duration: 123')
Vacche on Cabiria in Course Reader before class, if possible.
|February 5||Fascism and Film
La signora di tutti, dir. Ophuls, 1933
Read: White on La signora in Course Reader before
Rome, Open City, dir. Rossellini (duration: 105')
Read: Marcvus 31-53 before class
The Bicycle Thief, dir. De Sica
Read: Marcus on The Bicycle Thief 54-75 before class
Due at class time: Film Journals (Chapters 1-4 Giannetti, responses to Pastrone, Ophuls, Rossellini).
|February 26||Italy of the Boom-I*
*Special Note: Students should see Rocco and His Brothers BEFOR class.
Rocco and His Brothers, dir. Visconti, 1960 (duration: 170')
Read: Gramsci "The Southern Question" in Course Reader;
Foot, "La gente e il buon costume" in Course Reader before class
*Class will run 6:30-8:30 this evening
|March 4||Italy of the Boom-II*
*Special Note: Students should see La dolce vita BEFORE class
La Dolce Vita, dir. Fellini, 1959 (duration: 178')
Read: P. Adams Sitney and Bondanella on La Dolce Vita in
the Course Reader before class
*Class will run 6:30-8:30 this evening
|March 25||Comedy, Italian Style (Boom-III?)
Divorce, Italian Style, dir. Germi, 1960 (duration: 101')
Read: Marcus on Seduced and Abandoned 228-244
Due at class time: Film journals (Giannetti chapters 5-7, responses to De Sica, Visconti, La Dolce Vita)
Distributed: Take Home Midterm Exam, due at GLSP Office by 16 March, 4 p.m.
|April 1||Fascism on Film: The Memory of Fascism I*
Special Note: Students should see The Conformist BEFORE class
The Conformist, dir. Bertolucci, 1970
Read: Giannetti: Chapter 8 (for film journals)
Class will rune 6:30-8:30 this evening
|April 11||Fascism on Film: The Memory of Fascism II*
Amarcord, dir. Fellini, 1974 (duration: 127')
Read: Bondanella on Amarcord in Course Reader before
|April 15||Fascism and Film: The Memory of the Holocaust
Seven Beauties, dir. Wertmuller (duration: 115')
Read: Ravetto on Seven Beauties in Course Reader
Night of the Shooting Stars, dir. Taviani Bros., 1982 (duration: 107')
Read: Marcus 360-90 before class
In class portion of Final
Read: Giannetti: Chapter 12 (for film journals)
Due at class time: Film journals (chapters 8-12, responses to Germi, Bertolucci, Amarcord, Wertmuller, Taviani Bros.)
|Film Journals||Students will write six-page "journal" entries throughout the semester, due at the times indicated, for a total of 18 pages. The material to be includes is indicated on the syllabus. Journals allow students to express their responses to the films, framing them in terms of class discussion. Students must also incorporate the readings from Giannetti's Understanding Movies. Giannetti will not be discussed explicitly and is meant to provide students with the critical vocabulary to discuss film on and in cinematic terms. In fine, the journals constitute three "mini" papers. A more detailed explanation of the Journal will be provided at the first class session.|
|Midterm Exam||There will be a take-home midterm examination distributed at the date indicated and due, in the GLSP Office, one week later.|
|Final Exam||There will be one final exam. It will include an in-class portion, with the balance of the exam to be completed as take-home.|
|Grade Apportionment||Film Journals: 55%
Quality participation in class discussion: 15%
|Other Information||1. Films are on reserve at Olin Library. Please
bear in mind that 40 Wesleyan undergraduates will also need to have access
to these films.
2. Students should see Rocco and his Brothers, La Dolce Vita, and The Conformist before class times and class sessions, as indicated, will be shortened accordingly on these days.
3. These films, as well as the others for the course, are available for rental and loan through various resources: Russell Public Library of Middletown, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Best Video (in Hamden, an excellent local resource), Mad Mike's Video (Wallingford, also very reliable). I highly recommend the internet film resources, where your rental arrives at your home or office via UPS. You are given about a week to view the film and you return it in the pre-paid media mailer provided. Students should try Video Library (vlibrary.com), Net Flix (netflix.com), or Facets Multi-media (facets.org).