Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2018

  • National Cinema – The Italian Cinema: When Italy Meets America

    160-002 | Italian 170 | CCN: 32628

    Margherita Ghetti

    4 Units

    With the turn of the 20th century, Italian people came in waves to the North-American shores, carrying along their families, goods and language. Cinema lent itself to representing and questioning this encounter. As Italian food and gestures landed onscreen, they became part of a common, sometimes stereotypical, imagery. In this course, we will explore thoroughly the origins and images of the Italian-American encounter beyond its overused definitions. Throughout this chronological exploration, we will start by exploring the cinematic portrait of migration and cultural exchanges across the Atlantic Ocean, which remains a privileged site to understand cultural and geo-political dynamics still informing our historical time. We will go back to one hundred years ago with Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant and move up to more recent Emanuele Crialese’s Nuovomondo (2006).

    In the second part of our course, we will study how the phenomenon of “Americanization” historically intersects with questions of cultural influence – as witnessed in fascist and post-WWII filmic production, as in Roberto Rossellini’s Paisan (1946), as well as in the time of the Italian “economic miracle”, starting in the 1950’s, when Americanization was viewed as “contamination” and “imperialism” and gave way to the use of genre, as in the sci-fi dystopic fantasy of Elion Petri’s The Tenth Victim (1965).  What kind of influence has been more strongly expressed — that of Americans in Italy, or of Italian-Americans in the US? Where does one end and the other begin? How is Hollywood influencing the Italian film industry? In turning to filmmakers who, originally Italian, found themselves “becoming” Americans, as in the mafia serial Sopranos and Mario Puzo's Godfather filmic transposition by F. F. Coppola (1972), we will delve into the study of visual representation, narrative devices, cinematography and style.


    Rules & Requirements:  

    Mandatory attendance to lectures (one excused absence) and screenings (it’s important to be there and watch the film on a big screen, in the dark, with other people, not multitasking) 

    Weekly readings (refer to syllabus, and paper reader) 

    Weekly 1-2 page responses: integrate readings and screening and come up with a point of entry, focus on something specific and show you have read, processed and elaborated on the material. 

    Active participation in class (raise your hand, ask questions, comment) 

    One 7 minutes presentation

    BAMPFA screenings 

    Final project


    Hours & Format: 15 weeks – Lecture and screening

    Additional Details: Taught in English, readings and screenings in English and Italian (with English subtitles and translations provided). 

    Subject/Course Level: Italian Studies/Film &Media Studies Undergraduate 

    Grading/Final exam status: Letter grade. Two midterms (in class) + final project with in class presentation.