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Cover Caption: Antoine Jean Gros,Figure allégorique de la République, 1795, Grand Palais, Paris.

Jack Greenstein and William Tronzo, Editors

Leslie Elwell and Cindy Stanphill, Managing Editors

Vol. 6: Italy and Images

Postfeminist (Dis)Entanglements: Transgression and Conformism in Contemporary Italian Teen Movies

According to film historian Giampiero Brunetta, the success of Luca Lucini’s Tre metri sopra il cielo (Three Steps Over Heaven, 2004) and Fabio Brizzi’s Notte prima degli esami (Night Before the Exams, 2006) is emblematic of the current “crisis” of Italian cinema. The premise of Brunetta’s negative comments are primarily aesthetics (bad script, bad direction), while other reviewers have blamed the same films for unrealistic portrayals of Italian teenagers, and expressed their concerns about the moral and social influence that such mis-representations might have on the young spectators. My essay begins from these negative accounts to suggest an alternative reading of contemporary Italian teen movies, by which I mean popular fictions that both represent teenagers and market teenage audiences. These movies constitute a “filone” (cycle) on the basis of similarities in plots and characters, narratives formulas, choice of actors and actresses, and commercial strategies. At the core of the successful cycle of teen films, I argue, there are the tropes of freedom and choice, and the concepts of agency and individualization. These ideas are fundamental to the construction of the neo-liberal subject, rather than some deviant example of social and moral behaviors, and thus worth of our attention. Furthermore, sexuality and the sexualization of both the male and the female bodies are central discourses to the film narratives and visual strategies, which inform a configuration of gender/sex system whose features have been widely discussed by scholars in British and American cultural and film studies, under the label of “postfeminism.” In this essay, films such as Federico Moccia’s Amore 14 (2009) will be taken as examples to suggest a taxonomy of postfeminist female characters, in their various declinations. I will contextualize contemporary Italian productions in relation to critical texts on postfeminism such as Angela McRobbie’s The Aftermath of Feminism, and studies on female-oriented cycles such as Hilary Radner on American girly films. My intention is to shed light on both the specificities of the Italian context and the continuities across national borders, in a globalized and transnational film industry.

Il fascismo e gli Italian Studies in Gran Bretagna: Le strategie e i risultati della propaganda (1921–40)

Questo intervento si inserisce nel solco di esplorazioni storiografiche promosse ad esempio da Aldo Berselli, Roberta Suzzi Valli e Claudia Baldoli. Questi studiosi si sono soffermati sui temi della propaganda fascista in area britannica oppure sulle visioni sviluppate dall'Inghilterra nei confronti di Benito Mussolini. Questo saggio intende principalmente offrire un contributo per colmare una lacuna storiografica. Infatti, gli sporadici volumi della letteratura secondaria reperibili su queste tematiche si sono in prevalenza occupati di analizzare le dinamiche ed i risultati relativi alle comunità di italiani emigrati in Inghilterra o di sondare l'atteggiamento della stampa periodica locale nei confronti dell'ascesa del dittatore in Italia e dei successivi decorsi della dittatura. Assumendo come estremi cronologici gli anni venti-quaranta e facendo leva su un corposo lavoro archivistico, questo saggio analizza l'utilizzo dell'italiano, la sua recezione e la sua strumentalizzazione politica all'interno dei poli universitari inglesi ed in altri settori della società e dell'alta cultura.

Giorgio de Chirico/Isabella Far, ‘Theater Performance’ (1942/45)

This article––originally published in 1942, and reprinted in the artist’s 1945 volume, Commedia dell’arte moderna––comprises de Chirico’s first and most extensive discourse on the subject of theater. In this revealing essay, de Chirico speaks to the metaphysical power of theater; to theater as the fulfilment of man’s primeval need for a preternatural world; to the futility of realist and open-air theater in their failure to liberate the spectator from reality; to the absurdity of modernist theater in its enslavement to novelty and fashion; and to the proper use of the mannequin, so execrably exploited on the modernist stage.

Le immagini del potere. Note sull'identità italiana nel cinema di Paolo Sorrentino.

The artcile is about three Sorrentino's movies starting from some specific images and scenes: L'UOMO IN PIÙ, IL DIVO and LA GRANDE BELLEZZA. These movies, using the grotesque "register", tell us a lot, through a glass darkly, our identity as a so called nation.

The Muslim Counter-Reformation Prince?: Pietro della Valle on Shah ‘Abbas I

This article explores shifting images of Islamic rulers, specifically, of Shah ‘Abbas (1587-1629), whose well-known enmity with the Ottoman sultan brought him to Italian attention during the Ottoman-Safavid wars.  In his efforts to promote ‘Abbas, the Roman orientalist Pietro della Valle confronted existing perceptions of Islamic rulers.  These ideas had been shaped by a gendered polemical discourse that linked religious and sexual deviance.  In his 1628 treatise, Della Valle offered animage of Abbas as a Muslim Counter-Reformation prince: a strong, masculine ruler who could prove a trustworthy ally for rulers and institutions like the Propaganda Fide, a religious congregation that was Della Valle’s primary audience.  Della Valle’s argument hints at the possibility for new readings on Islam and Muslim rulers as learned Italians developed new understandings of religion’s relationship to the state in the early modern period.

Taking the Measure of La Lena: Prostitution, the Community of Debt, and the Idea of the Theater in Ariosto’s Last Play

Abstract: La Lena is Ariosto’s most challenging play, rendering a powerful dystopic vision of Ferrara through an intricately organized poetic text. In Ariosto’s bid to outstrip rivals Bibbiena, Machiavelli and Aretino (the former two dead by 1528, the year of the staging of the first version of La Lena), the play summarizes – along with versified versions of his earlier Cassaria and Suppositi – Ariosto’s experiences as a man of the theatre, and establish him as a modern classic.  As Paul Larivaille has shown, the organizing principle of the play is a network of interrelated debts that in their embrace of various social ranks, ducal officials, and groups such as the Jewish moneylenders of the Riva constitutes the Ferrarese community of citizens.  Plot segments are built around commodities, such as Flavio’s cloak offered for pawn in Acts I-II and the wine-butt (lent to Pacifico) in Act IV; the most important such object is Fazio’s house, on loan to Lena, referred to in Acts II-IV but implicitly involved in Acts I and V as well.   Measurement of the house by Torbido at the center of the play (Act III.8, IV.7) establishes that in Ferrara all things, including human relations, have their exact valuation. The Torbido scenes are the axis of the play’s linguistic emphasis on inventories, pricing, exploited labor, and financial record-keeping (explicit in references to account books, for example, “il libro de l’ uscita”).  The scene of measurement also stimulates the play’s dénouement, as it necessitates  Flavio’s concealed transportation into Fulvio’s house, where he will encounter Licinia; and it provides a significant metaphor, underlying the whole play, for the prostituted body of Lena herself  (she refers to her “doors” before and behind in the final scene of the expanded 1529/32 version).  The relentelessly economic Ferrarese universe is also part of Ariosto’s self-conscious mirroring in La Lena of his ideas of stagecraft more generally.  For framing the debt-driven money economy of Ferrara in La Lena are Ariosto’s decades of reflection on both the theatrical and urban space of his city: at the theoretical level of Pellegrino Prisciani’s rendition of Alberti’s archological treatise in the Spectacula, in the practical elaboration of stage-sets (“la città ferrarese”), and evoking, through several episodes in the play (III.2, IV.9), the city’s history of rationalized  urban planning, reaching back to the construction at the turn of the century of the Addizione erculea at the behest of Ercole I d’Este.

Performative Translations in Syria Poletti’s Gente conmigo

In this article I analyze author Syria Poletti’s novel, Gente conmigo, as an early example of the role of translation, and more broadly language, in migration. Drawing from philosopher of language John L. Austin’s lectures, I focus on the performative translations the protagonist, Nora, completes in order to help her clients assimilate into Argentine society. I maintain that Nora consistently prioritizes cultural over linguistic translation, breaking the conventions of the latter in order to facilitate the former. I engage with the field of ethics in translation and sociologist Erving Goffman’s work on social interactions as performance as I examine Nora’s interactions with four clients who request translations from her, as well as her own experiences as an immigrant. These interactions highlight identity as performative, and her translations are likewise performative, helping her clients immigrate to Argentina and adopt an Argentine identity. Poletti’s interrogations into the relationship between language and sense of belonging for immigrants would only be taken up again in Argentina and Italy decades later.

Fabrizio De André riscrive Edgar Lee Masters: la società italiana dello sviluppo economico in Non al denaro non all’amore né al cielo

L’intento di questo articolo è di soffermarsi su Non al denaro non all’amore né al cielo e sul periodo storico in cui viene elaborato, per carpirne tanto gli intrecci tra l’album e la cornice storica che lo produce, quanto quelli tra l’album in questione e la poetica del cantautore genovese. In particolare, l’articolo prenderà in rassegna i personaggi di Non al denaro non all’amore né al cielo per compararli con i personaggi originali tratti da Spoon River Anthology, ma anche per metterli in relazione con il contesto storico-sociale in cui nasce quest’album. Un’attenzione superficiale a quest’opera, infatti, potrebbe indurre nella tentazione di pensare a un disimpegno politico da parte di De André, successivo al fallimento delle rivolte del Sessantotto e alle critiche che il cantautore ricevette per La buona novella. La mia tesi, invece, è che Non al denaro non all’amore né al cielo non solo non sia un’operazione di smarcamento politico da parte del cantautore ma, anzi, il tentativo molto tempestivo di mostrare la direzione che la nuova Italia industriale stava prendendo e, con essa, gran parte della società italiana.

Libera nos a malo:Violence and Hope, Image and Word in Rossellini's Roma città aperta

By analyzing the final sequence of Roma città aperta (1945), within the context of the film as a whole, this article seeks to demonstrate that individual and national hope, in line with historic and orthodox Christian eschatology, can be drawn from Rosselini’s correlation of the words of the liturgical elements delivered in Latin with the visual images of Don Pietro’s execution. 

The article begins firstly with an overview of the correlation between visual image and spoken word in the film as a whole. It then examines Don Pietro’s death within the context of the other deaths in Roma città aperta. Thirdly it seeks to demonstrate that, although the work of agnostics, Rossellini and Amidei have deliberately and skillfully deployed Christian doctrine to craft a film that would have seemed at once realistic and hopeful to its original Italian audience. The final section of the article shows this craftsmanship in action through a close reading of the liturgical lexicon and visual images in Don Pietro’s execution, the final four minutes of the film.

Best Most Sensational Balloons: Piero Manzoni’s Corpo d’aria/Fiato d’artista

In 1959 the Italian artist Piero Manzoni introduced, with great expectations, his pneumatic sculpture kit Corpo d’aria. Despite their initial muted reception, they are in retrospect the most important works in the artist’s oeuvre. The kits are the first realization of the artist’s larger ambitions and would define all subsequent projects by the artist. The Corpi d’aria are also revealed to be a powerful and critique of the postwar vanguard’s desire to undo art’s autonomy and transcendence while simultaneously maintaining the artistic privilege that extended from these claims.

A Bundle of Rods: Transmigration of Symbols and Spatial Rhetoric in the Architecture of Modernity

During the twenty years of Fascist rule, the diffusion and pervasiveness all throughout Italy of the popularized image of the ancient roman symbol of fasces lictoriae well reflects the sense of a political crusade that had made from the very beginning a decisive appeal on the symbolic lure of a spatially based rhetoric.

the emergent regime would be well prepared in emotionally involving the Italians through a complete arsenal of symbols and rites that, much more than autonomous  elements, will come to form - in the course of twenty decisive years - a well displayed set of spatially based dramatizations, where the figurative aspect would have paved the way to a rising and robust popular consensus.

It was then in the name of a mythical idea of Romanity, that the Fascist leaders will lay the basis of a complex cultural project aimed at discarding the young and still imprecise construction of the Italian national ethos, through genuinely aesthetically based actions, perfectly functional to the systematic fascistization of the liberal institutions of Italy.

Among the most successful aspects of this ‘branding strategy’, should be considered the re-invention of the fasces lictoriae operated by Fascism and its diffusion throughout Italy, starting from 1923.

Exploring Canzone Napoletana and Southern Italian Migration Through Three Lenses

Rich in history and tradition, canzone Napoletana have been celebrated and venerated around the world. These songs of love, laughter, sorrow, and pain are a genuine and sincere portal into the heart, mind, and soul of millions of Italian immigrants within the Italian diaspora. Henceforth, the purpose of this article is threefold. First, it will address how canzone Napoletana have acutely impacted the Italian diaspora, becoming the metaphorical voice for the majority of Italian immigrants the world over. Second, it will outline how canzone Napoletana have significantly influenced non-Italian perceptions about Italy and Italian culture. Lastly, this article will provide a uniquely Canadian perspective by specifically illustrating the plight of Italian immigrants living in post World War II Toronto and how these immigrants used canzone Napoletana as a coping mechanism for the daily hardships and struggles of immigrant life.