Course Description:

Taught in English, this course provides a historical introduction to Italian cinema, concentrating on examples of classical genres and movements, such as the early silent epic, the classics of neorealism, auteurs of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, the commedia all’italiana (comedy, Italian style), and the spaghetti Western. We will examine issues of representation and production of societal values, e.g., gender, family relations, and national identity vs. local cultures. No knowledge of Italian is required.

Learning Goals:

By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with some of the canonical works of Italian cinema, will be able to critically analyze films according to their textual typologies (e.g., generic codes and conventions), to relate them to the specific socio-historical context and processes of production (e.g. film industry, audience expectations), and to communicate their ideas effectively, both orally and in written form, in modes appropriate to the discipline.

Departmental Goals II and III: Cultural Proficiency and Professional Preparation.

This course satisfies the Core Curriculum Learning Goal: AH (o and p).

Area of Inquiry C: Arts and Humanities

Goals o and p:

o. Examine critically theoretical issues concerning the nature of reality, human experience, knowledge, value, and the cultural production related to the topics addressed.

p. Analyze arts and literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.

Required Texts:

                  Films and Texts available on sakai :

                  Celli, Carlo and Cottino-Jones, Marga. A New Guide to Italian Cinema. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. ISBN # 1403975655.


The following books are available for consultation at the Undergraduate Reserve, Alexander Library (there are additional copies in the library; you can use any edition):

                 Di Scala, Spencer M. Italy: From Revolution to Republic, 1700 to the Present. Boulder: Westview Press, 2004 (on Italian history).

                  Bondanella, Peter. Italian Cinema. New York: Continuum, 2001 (on general history of Italian cinema)

                  Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990. (on film form, elements of cinematography, film genres)


Course Requirements and Grade distribution:

Participation, 25%: regular attendance at screenings, lectures, and recitation sections is mandatory. Highest grades for participation are earned by students who come to class on time having seen the film and read the material assigned for each class, prepare the questions assigned, pose thoughtful questions, offer their insights consistently, communicate their thoughts effectively, and listen respectfully to the contributions of other students.

Mid-term examination, 25%. Based on lectures and readings, includes identifications and an essay question. The identifications and the essay are aimed at assessing the student’s ability to relate the films to their historical and cultural background as well as to theoretical concepts that are specific to the area of inquiry of the course.

Paper, 25%: Approximately seven pages (1,775-1,925 words, typed and double-spaced) on a topic to be discussed with your instructor. Due in the recitation section of Week 13. N0 late papers will be accepted, no exceptions. Students are required to analyze and compare at least two films and examine critically at least two other sources concerning their topic. They should demonstrate the ability to synthesize and communicate effectively complex ideas in standard written English.

Final exam, 25%. Based on lectures and readings, includes identifications and one essay question. The final exam assesses the student’s progress in the abilities to relate art and literature both to their historical and cultural background as well as to theoretical concepts that are specific to the course.