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COURSE NAME: "Italian Cinema"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Alberto Lo Pinto
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 9:00 AM 11:00 AM
PREREQUISITES: This course carries 3 semester hours of credit.
OFFICE HOURS: 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.
Realist, modernist and post-modernist aesthetics will be discussed in relation to Italian cinema, in particular, and Italian society, more in general. Directors to be treated include (but are not limited to) De Sica, Rossellini, Fellini, Pasolini, Monicelli, Petri, Cavani, Bertolucci, Bellocchio, Nicchiarelli, and Sorrentino. Films are shown in the original Italian version with English subtitles.
-Students will learn how to analyze film texts using specific historical, cultural, and theoretical approaches.
- Students will learn how to write analytical essays that employ specific critical frameworks.
- Students will learn and be able to discuss key social, political, and economic events, and movements in contemporary Italian history.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
A History of Italian Cinema; 2nd EditionPeter Bondanella & Federico PacchioniBloomsbury, 2017978-1-5013- 0763-8  Hard Copy  

midterm examThe mid-term exam will assess your knowledge of the topics and films discussed in class. 25
final examThe final exam will assess your knowledge of the topics and films discussed in class. 30
Film presentationYou will prepare a presentation on a specific film or a topic. 25
Attendance/ParticipationAttendance at in-class screenings is essential beyond being present in class for discussion and lecture. (Consider that many of the films that will be screened will not necessarily be accessible outside of class) Participation doesn’t just mean showing up but also doing the reading, being willing to discuss, ask questions and be fully engaged on a daily level.20

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.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.
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 (Sept. 5, 7): Neorealism


Screening: Ladri di biciclette (De Sica, 1948)



Millicent Marcus, “De Sica’s Bicycle Thief: Casting Shadows on the Visionary City” (1986).

Peter Bondanella, “The Masters of Neorealism: Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti” pp. 31-37 (1983).



Week 2 (Sept. 12, 14, 15):  After Neorealism: Comedy, Italian Style


Screening: I soliti ignoti (Monicelli, 1958)



  Remì Fournier Lanzoni, Comedy Italian Style: The Golden Age of Italian Film Comedies (2008), pp. 7-11; 34-43.


Week 3 (Sept. 19, 21): The Economic Miracle (1958-63)


Screening: Il posto (Olmi, 1961)



Millicent Marcus, “Il posto: Discrediting the economic miracle” (1986).




Week 4 (Sept. 26, 28): Modernism I: Authors, Abstraction, Alienation and Modernist Narratives


Screening: La notte (Antonioni, 1964)



Torunn Haaland, “Flanerie, spatial practices and nomadic thought in Antonioni's La notte” (2013).


Week 5 (Oct. 3, 5): Modernism II:  the Myths of Modernization and the representation of the periphery


Screening: Mamma Roma (Pasolini, 1962)



John David Rhodes, “Mamma Roma and Pasolini’s Oedipal (Housing) Complex” in Stupendous miserable city (2007). AA


Week 6 (Oct. 10, 12): Popular Genres I: Spaghetti Westerns


Screening: C’era una volta il west (Leone, 1964) (to be watched at home)



Christopher Frayling, “Once Upon a Time in the West” in Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone (2006).

Christopher Wagstaff, “Popular European cinema: A Forkful of Westerns: Industry, Audiences and the Italian Western” (1992).



Midterm Exam: October 12


Week 7 (Oct. 17, 19): Rethinking the Past, Questioning the Present – Terrorism and the “Anni di Piombo”


Screening: Il conformista (Bertolucci, 1970)


Kline, T. Jefferson, “Il Conformista/The Conformist” in The Cinema of Italy (2004).


Week 8 (Oct. 24, 26): Popular Genres II: Giallo films


Screening: Suspiria (Argento, 1977)



Mikel Koven, “What is Giallo?” in La dolce morte (2006), pp. 1-18.

Joshua Schulze, “The ornamental and the monstrous- Exploring feminine architecture in Dario Argento’s Suspiria” (1977).



Week 9 (Oct. 31, Nov. 2): The 1980s: New Forms of De-legitimation


Screening: Vacanze di Natale (Carlo Vanzina, 1983)



Alan O’Leary, “The Phenomenology of the cinepanettone” (2011).



Week 10 (Nov. 7, 9): Ethics for an Encounter: Secession, Immigration and Refugees


Screening: Lamerica (Amelio, 1995)



Luca Carminati, “The Return of History: Gianni Amelio's "Lamerica", Memory, and National Identity” (2006).


Week 11 (Nov. 14 16): Mafioso films


Screening: Gomorra (Garrone, 2008)



Dana Renga, “The Corleone at Home and Abroad”, in Mafia Movies: A Reader (2016).

Pierpaolo Antonello, “Dispatches from Hell: Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah”, in Mafia Movies: A Reader (2016).



Week 12 (Nov. 21): Representing the female: Rural Idyll


Screening: Le meraviglie (Rohrwacher, 2014)



Silvia Angeli, “From the margins: Alice Rohrwacher’s liminal adolescents”, Jun 2020, p. 339 – 356.


Week 13 (Nov. 28, 30): 2010s: New Directions


Screening: Chiamami con il tuo nome (Guadagnino, 2017)



Rosalind Galt & Karl Schoonover, “Untimely Desires, Historical Efflorescence, and

Italy in Call Me by Your Name” (2019).


Week 14 (Dec. 5, 7): 


Oral Presentations: December 5


Final Exam: December 7




Absences: Frequent absences automatically lower your participation grade. Three unexcused absences (those not officially cleared with the Dean’s Office) will result in your final grade for the course to be lowered by one full letter grade. Anything above five unexcused absences will result in failure of the course.

Lateness: Arrive on time. 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.

In-class: Remain in class during the duration of class time. If you must leave, do not leave right at the start of class (when important announcements are being made), during student presentations, during film screenings and or clips and lectures. In general, the rule should be: once you’re in class, barring emergencies and/or exceptions you should avoid leaving class.

Email: Professors maintain regular working hours and have office hours. Do not email on the weekend or the night before class and expect an immediate response. When emailing, please include something in the email text. Do not just send an email with a subject line and attachment.

Phones and computers: Phones and computers are strictly forbidden in class. If you use one, you will be counted as absent. Make sure you turn off (and not just muted) your phones at the start of class. Notes are to be taken by hand.

Assignment extensions: Under special circumstances extensions are given, but you must first ask for permission. If you submit an assignment late without first asking for an extension, your grade will be affected by the normal penalty. The granting of extensions is determined by the Professor.