Special Topics in Film: The Cinema of Italian Migration
140 | CCN: 31728
This course begins with the idea that modern Italy is a nation of emigrants, a premise well-illustrated by film and other forms of popular culture. Given the high numbers of Italians who have immigrated to the United States, this course examines film by and about Italians and their descendants in the United States in order to consider critically how cinema has shaped Italian and Italian American culture and history.
We will consider how iconic and often stereotypical imagery associated with Italian migration—the Mafia, religion, food, etc.—is commodified and at other times alternatively used to create new, hybrid ethnic identities. In so doing, students will evaluate the politics of representing immigration especially in relation to historical and contemporary policies and commonplace views on the topic. Ultimately, students will engage a varied set of critical and technical tools for unpacking how an Italian culture of migration and ethnicity is mediated in film.
The main focus of this course will be tracing cinematic examples by and about Italians and their descendants in the United States. However, given Italy’s complex relationship to migration—as both a nation of emigrants and a receiver of new immigrants—we will also consider some of the ways Italian films have taken on this subject. Films we will study include: The Black Hand, The Godfather II, True Love, Rocco and His Brothers, Big Night, Mean Streets, Lamerica, Io Sono Li, and The True Legend of Tony Vilar.
a course reader, more details forthcoming
– Critical reflection papers on some of the required readings and films
– A final research paper
– Attendance and participation in class discussions
– (optional extra credit – in-class presentation on a pre-approved topic)