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COURSE NAME: "Italian Cinema"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Peter Sarram
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:30-5:30 PM
PREREQUISITES: This course carries 3 semester hours of credit.
OFFICE HOURS: M/W 9-10 or by Appointment

This course surveys films, directors, and film movements and styles in Italy from 1945 to the present. The films are examined as complex aesthetic and signifying systems with wider social and cultural relationships to post-war Italy. The role of Italian cinema as participating in the reconstitution and maintenance of post-War Italian culture and as a tool of historiographic inquiry is also investigated. Realism, modernism and post-modernism are discussed in relation to Italian cinema in particular and Italian society in general. Films are shown in the original Italian version with English subtitles.

Through the work of directors such as De Sica, Rossellini, Fellini, De Santis, Pasolini, Visconti, Risi, Monicelli, Petri, Bava, Argento, Bertolucci, the Taviani’s, Nichetti, Moretti, Amelio, Guadagnino, Mainetti we will investigate Italian cinema culture from neo-realism through the popular film genres of the 1970s and the 21st century postcinema worlds.


Film screenings will be supplemented by lectures, class discussions and readings.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
History of Italian CinemaPeter BondanellaContinuum978-1441160690  

Attendance & Class Participation 10% + 10%
Screening Notes 20%
Mid-Term Exam  30%
Final Paper/Final Exam  30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Please note that frequent absences automatically lower your participation grade.

Also consider that three unexcused absences (those not justified by a medical certificate or a note from the administration) will result in your final grade for the course to be dropped by one letter grade. Anything above five unexcused absences will result in failure.


Lateness: Students more than 10 minutes late are marked as absent. Late arrival (less than 10 minutes) is marked as such, and 3 late arrivals are counted as one absence.

Class procedure:   Students are requested to make sure their cell phones are turned off (and not just muted) at the start of class.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Week 1:

Introduction: Cinema, History, Nation – Thinking about Film, History and Narratives

Screening: Roma Città Aperta (Rome Open City, Rossellini, 1946)

Neo-Realism I: A Historical Approach

Week 2:

Screening: Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thief, De Sica, 1948)

Neo-Realism II: An Aesthetic Approach

Week 3:

Screening: Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice, De Santis, 1949)

Screening: Viaggio in Italia (Voyage to Italy, Rossellini, 1954)

Week 4:

Screening: I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street, Monicelli, 1958)

Beyond Neo-Realism – Popular Cinema vs. Art Cinema

Week 5:

Screening: Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life, Risi, 1962)

Modernization  and the Economic Miracle – “Il Boom”: Comedy Italian Style/Fast Cars, Culture  and Consumption

Evening Screening: La Dolce Vita  (The Sweet Life, Fellini, 1960)

Week 6:

Screening: Il Deserto Rosso (Red Desert, Antonioni, 1964)

 Modernism I: Authors,  Abstraction, Alienation and Modernist Narratives –An International  Style

Week 7:

Screening: Mamma Roma (Mamma Roma, Pasolini, 1962)

Modernism II: The Cinema of Poetry and the Myth(s) of Modernization

Week 8:

Screening: Per Un Pugno di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars, Leone, 1964)

Popular Genres: The Two Publics – Popular Culture, Class, History and National  Identity

Evening Screening: 6 Donne Per l'Assassino (Blood and Black Lace, Bava, 1964)

Week 9 & 10:

Screening: Il Conformista (The Conformist, Bertolucci, 1970) / Indagine su un cittadino (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Petri, 1970)

Retold Narratives,  Film  After 1968: Rethinking the Past, Questioning the  Present – Terrorism and the “Anni di Piombo
Gender Complicated

Evening Screening: Profondo Rosso (Deep Red, Argento, 1975) / Roma A Mano Armata (The Tough Ones aka Brutal Justice, Lenzi, 1976) 


Screening: La Notte  di San Lorenzo (The Night of the Shooting Stars, P&V Taviani, 1984)

Retold Narratives: Revisiting Neo-Realism

Evening Screening: Amore Tossico (Toxic Love, Caligari, 1983) / Lamerica (Amelio, 1995)


Screening: Ladri di Saponette (Icycle Thief, Nichetti, 1989)

Italian  Cinema in the Age of Postmodernism: Deregulation, Television and Postmodernity

Evening Screening: Caro Diario (Dear Diary, Moretti, 1994) / Videocracy (Gandini, 2009)


Screening: Arianna (Lavagna, 2015)

Postmodernity: Authors, Subjectivity and Queer Representation

Extra Screening: I Am Love (Guadagnino, 2009)


Screening: Mediterranea (Carpignano, 2015)

Ethics for an Encounter: Secession, Immigration and Refugees

Week 14:

Screening: Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot (They Called Him Jeeg Robot, Mainetti, 2015)

Post-cinematic Vision and the Digital Turn

Evening Screening: Romanzo Criminale (TV-Series, 2008-2010, Sollima) and Gomorra (TV-Series, 2014-on going, Sollima)