85101 - International Reception of Italian Cinema (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Dominic Holdaway

  • Credits 6

  • SSD L-ART/06

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Italian Studies, European Literary Cultures, Linguistics (cod. 9220)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will have acquired the fundamentals in the field of international reception of Italian cinema, with regard to the main phases, trends, movements and celebrities, having grasped the basic elements of an updated methodology for analysing the theory of reception. Students will be able to reflect critically on the relationship between local, national, supranational and global, through practical examples of inter-textual and transcultural relations.

Course contents

The course will be formed of ten thematic sessions, that map out particular historical moments, trends, filmmakers or stars that have carried Italian cinema across the world in interesting ways.

The course begins with Italian silent cinema, and some of the films that made Italy's early film industry one of the most powerful in the world. From there we will ask what "Italian cinema" means by examining and challenging some of the most canonical instances (neorealism, auteur cinema, divas, festival films), but also map out the trajectories of films that appear difficult to distribute (such as comedies), and those which were made with an international audience in mind (B movies).

In addition to textual analysis of the most international Italian films, the course will use film history, production and distribution studies, examining the function of co-productions, film festivals, legislation and marketing. This will be accompanied by readings that reconstruct the evolution of Italian film studies. 


Bayman, L. & Rigoletto, S. (eds), Popular Italian Cinema. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013. 

Bertellini G. (ed.), Italian Silent Cinema: A Reader, New Barnet, John Libbey Publishing, 2013.

Elsaesser, T., European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood, Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2004.

Higson, A., "The Concept of National Cinema", Screen 30.4 (Autumn 1989), 36-46.

Higson, A., "The Limiting Imagination of National Cinema", in Hjort & Mackenzie, eds, Cinema & Nation, London-New York: Taylor & Francis, 2000.

Giovacchini, S. & Sklar, R. Global Neorealism, London: Sage, 2011.

Reich, J., Maciste Films of Silent Cinema. Bloomington, Indiana UP, 2015.

Schoonover, K., Brutal Vision: The Neorealist Body in Postwar Italian Cinema, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Small, P., Sophia Loren: Moulding the Star, Bristol, Intellect, 2009.

Wagstaff, C., "A Forkful of Westerns", in Dyer & Vincendeau (eds.), Popular European Cinema, London, Routledge, 1992, pp. 245-61.

 (Further readings will be provided throughout the course)

Teaching methods

The course will be structured in lecture/seminars led by the teacher. Sessions will be accompanied with video clips from required viewing as well as a broader filmography, and with specific readings, that students will prepare for discussion in class.

Assessment methods

The course will be examined through an oral examination. Students should prepare the content covered in class, the films screened alongside the programme, and the weekly readings.

An organic understanding of the issues addressed in the class and its readings, as well as the capacity to adopt historiographic, production and distribution studies, will receive high grades. Careful citation of the materials but with a less attuned analytical or summative capacity, or an incorrect use of terminology, will gain lower marks. Inappropriate language or significant absences in understanding of the content or historical/analytic tools used in class will lead to grades that are at the limits of a pass. Significant absences in content or understanding, or a clear lack of orientation around bibliography and filmography risk a fail, as does inadequate or plagiarised reference to the work of others.

Teaching tools

Students can attend screenings alongside classes of the following films:

My Voyage to Italy (Martin Scorsese, 1999), Darò un milione (Mario Camerini, 1935), Paisà/Paisan (Roberto Rossellini, 1946), Pasqualino Settebellezze (Lina Wertmüller, 1975), Django (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) and Fuocoammare (Gianfranco Rosi, 2016).

Students are also asked to watch the following films:

Gli ultimi giorni di Pompeii/The Last Days of Pompei (Mario Caserini, 1913), Scipione l'africano/Scipione Africanus (Carmine Gallone, 1937), Stazione Termini (Vittorio De Sica, 1953) Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953), La ciociara/Two Women (Vittorio De Sica, 1960), 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963), Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012).

Other films will be recommended during the course, and on the IOL course materials website.

Office hours

See the website of Dominic Holdaway