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Rhiannon Welch

Associate Professor of Italian Studies, Affiliated Faculty in Film & Media

B.A., History, UC Santa Cruz, 2000
Ph.D., Italian Studies, UC Berkeley, 2008

Rhiannon Welch


6317 Dwinelle

Office Hours: By appointment



Rhiannon Noel Welch works on modern Italian and postcolonial literature, film, and critical theory. Her research and teaching in Italian Studies and Film & Media seek to locate and complicate the bounds of ‘Italian’ literature and cinema, focusing on formal and ideological relations to broader cultural spaces and phenomena, such as urban modernity; fascism and postwar ‘redemption’; race and the biopolitics of ‘capture’; colonialism and its ongoing legacies; migration and diaspora; oceans, ecology and climate change, etc.

Her film-related publications include essays and chapters on Giovanni Pastrone’s early cinematic epic Cabiria (1914), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s screenplay Il padre selvaggio (1963), Appunti per un’Orestiade Africana (1973), Gianni Amelio’s Lamerica (1994), and experimental works by Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, Dagmawi Yimer, and Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen. In addition, she has translated works on early cinema by Gabriele D’Annunzio and Silvio Alovisio.

Her first book, Vital Subjects: Race and Biopolitics in Italy (2016), reads a range of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Italian cultural production through the lens of biopolitics in order to demonstrate how race and colonialism have long been central to Italian modernity and national culture, rather than a fascist aberration or a contemporary phenomenon resulting from immigration.

Her current book project, Crisis and the Aesthetics of Deceleration, examines recurring figures of deceleration, dilation, and/or slowness, in Italian literature, film, and experimental media in light of the numerous biopolitical crises plaguing Italy and the world today (the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, mass migration, the failures of late capitalism, etc.).

For a full list of publications, click here.

Welch’s research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Mellon Foundation, the Cornell University Society for the Humanities, the Cornell University Institute of European Studies, and the Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences. Before joining the faculty at Berkeley, Welch held positions at Cornell University, Franklin & Marshall College, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Rutgers University.

Recent courses taught:

Aesthetics | Biopolitics | Crisis
Global Neorealism
Film Theory and World Cinema
(Post)colonial Italian Cinema
Italy and the (Broken) World
Italian Cinema and the Ecological Imagination
Landscape and Architecture in Antonioni, Rosi, and Pasolini
Race, Biopolitics, and the ‘Making’ of Italians
Working Slowly. Labor in Modern Italian Literature
Boomerang Effect. Migration in Italian Literature and Film
Visual Culture and Crisis
Poetics and Politics of Travel in Pier Paolo Pasolini


Vital subjects