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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


IT 20th Century: New Commitments: Literature, Cinema and Culture in Italy 1960 – present

IT 20th Century: New Commitments: Literature, Cinema and Culture in Italy 1960 – present

Course Convenor: Prof Robert Gordon (, Section of Italian

This module will examine a varied body of work in Italian film, literature and intellectual debate from the late 1950s to the present day. It is interested in analysing the on-going evolution of forms of social or political commitment within the cultural sphere, in a period of intense change in culture and society, and of increasing scepticism about the ideological models of the preceding anti-Fascist, neo-realist generations. Building on, but also challenging their neorealist predecessors, Italian writers, filmmakers and intellectuals in this period reconfigured the workings of political art in response to shifting national and international histories, from social changes in the family and society to the upheavals of terrorism in the 1960s and 1970s to the end of the Cold War and the 'mediocracy' of the fin de siècle to the emergence of a new, multicultural Italy. They also responded to changes in conceptions of history and memory, and the nature of aesthetic form, including gestures towards postmodernism (although the latter term has proved a highly problematic one in Italy). As a result, complex new relations between narrative, history, ideology, identity and representation emerged, including new uses for materials such as the document, the archive, spoken memory and recovered histories. The module will build a student-led programme based on shared interests. It typically focusses on key figures who worked towards new forms of cultural commitment in this period (Pasolini, Sciascia, Levi, Antonioni, Moretti, Passerini, Scego, Rohrwacher etc) as well as on key motifs or issues at stake within them (eg. relations between law and history, avant-garde and postmodernism, memory, oral history and orality, gender, race and exclusion, and forms such as documentary and narrative, pop genres, the historical film and novel).

There will normally be a maximum capacity of 14 for this module. The module is open to students of both Film and Screen Studies and European, Latin American and Comparative Literatures and Cultures. Students with no prior knowledge of Italian or studies in Italian culture may take the module, but they should contact the module convenor first.

Preliminary Reading:

Antonello, P. and Mussgnug, F. eds, Postmodern impegno. Ethics and Commitment in Contemporary Italian Culture, Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009.
Baranski, Z.G. and West, R. eds., Modern Italian Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001
Burns, J., Fragments of ‘impegno’. Interpretations of Commitment in Contemporary Italian Narrative 1980-2000, Leeds: Northern Universities Press, 2001
Forgacs, D. & Lumley, R., eds, Italian Cultural Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996
Gordon, R. S. C., Introduction to 20th-Century Italian literature: A Difficult Modernity , London: Duckworth, 2005)
Sorlin, P., Italian National Cinema, 1896-1996, London: Routledge, 1997
Wood, M. Italian Cinema, Oxford: Berg, 2005.

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