HIST 338 Modern Italy through Film History

This course explores the relationship between Italian history and Italian cinema from World War II to the present. We will study the major Italian films of the years 1930 to 2015 in order to understand economic, social, and political change in Italy. We will begin with the films of the Fascist era as way to analyze the relationship between propaganda and culture. After that we will focus on the Neorealist movement of the 1950s and its relationship to postwar reconstruction and the new Italian democracy. The class will cover the films of the 1960s with their focus on both prosperity and continuing social suffering and then those of the 1970s as a lens into the political tensions and political violence that dominated Italy. We will conclude with attention to representations of the corruption and collapse of the First Republic in the 1990s and 2000s. We will evaluate the films in the light of aesthetic and historic precedent, as well as interpretive debate. The film movements addressed will include neo-realism, the auteur movement, and commedia all'italiana. We will ask a series of questions about film as a historical tool and about the unique possibilities of film as a lens onto modern society.


4 units


One History course, or permission of instructor