Spring 2004

ARTS 643
Italian Cinema: History, Context, and Analysis


01/26/2004 - 05/08/2004
Thursday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Fisk Hall 302

Italian cinema, from the "golden" era of silent films to contemporary examples of auteur expression, will be examined both for its cinematic particularity as well as for the historical, social, and cultural importance of specific films. Our focus might incorporate such interconnected questions as: How might Pastrone's silent films iconoclastically work against cinematic convention and yet help set the stage for the fascist politics that followed? In what way do Blasetti's national pageants express "fascism"? What makes Rossellini's films "neorealist"? What is it about De Sica's works that strains this definition? What sorts of historico-cultural questions can be asked of radically "personal" or "cinematic" films like Fellini's and Antonioni's? How do Wertmuller's cinematic choices signify her political agenda? Some of the filmmakers whose work we will explore include: Pastrone, Ophuls, Blasetti, Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Bertolucci, Antonioni, Wertmuller, Argento, and Moretti. All films are available with English sub-titles.

Required texts of the course include: Millicent Marcus, ITALIAN CINEMA IN THE LIGHT OF NEOREALISM; Peter Bondanella, ITALIAN CINEMA; and Louis Giannetti's UNDERSTANDING MOVIES. Optional but recommended texts include: Millicent Marcus, AFTER FELLINI: NATIONAL CINEMA IN THE POSTMODERN AGE and Jacqueline Reich and Piero Garofalo, eds., REVIEWING FASCISM.

Requirements for the course include a final paper, a very brief final exam, and a journal. Students are required to keep journals chronicling the films and will be asked to submit these journals every three weeks for review. While the choice of the exact format is left to the student, notes concerning timing, specific scenes analyses, and incorporations of the criticism are encouraged. Students should keep the kind of journal that will be of service to them in the writing of their final paper.

Class time will be composed of screenings, lecture, discussion, and small group collaborations. Particularly long films (e.g., La dolce vita, Rocco and His Brothers) will be screened on preceding Sunday evenings, but students should feel free to see them on their own. Films are available as rentals or through local libraries. No prior knowledge of cinematic analysis is required.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Ellen Nerenberg (B.A. Stanford University; M.A., Ph.D. University of Chicago) is associate professor of Romance languages and women's studies at Wesleyan University. She recently published Prison Terms: Representing Confinement During and After Italian Fascism (University of Toronto Press, 2001; winner of the Modern Language Association's Howard R. Marraro Prize for best publication in English on an Italian subject, 2000-01) and edited, with C. Gallucci, Writing Beyond Fascism: Cultural Resistance in the Life and Works of Alba de Cespedes (Fairleigh-Dickinson University Press, 2000). Her research focuses on 20th-century Italian narrative, Italian theater, Italian cultural studies, Italian cinema, women's studies, and gender studies.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Louis Giannetti, UNDERSTANDING THE MOVIES (Prentice Hall Press) Paperback

Millicent Marcus, ITALIAN FILM IN THE LIGHT OF NEOREALISM (Princeton University Press) Paperback


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