Millicent Marcus (Ph.D. Yale, 1974) specializes in Italian culture from the interdisciplinary perspectives of literature, history, and film. She is the author of An Allegory of Form: Literary Self-Consciousness in the Decameron, (Stanford French and Italian Studies, l979), Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism (Princeton, l986), Filmmaking by the Book: Italian Cinema and Literary Adaptation (Johns Hopkins, l993), After Fellini: National Cinema in the Postmodern Age (Johns Hopkins, 2002), and Italian Film in the Shadow of Auschwitz (University of Toronto, 2007), as well as journal articles and encyclopedia entries on her fields of interest. Because literacy in the 21st century must be broadened to include the mass media as well as the written text, she brings a cultural studies approach to her teaching and research.
ITAL 783 Italian Film Ecologies: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Landscape and the natural environment have never occupied “background” status in Italian film. Given the spectacular visual presence of its terrain—thanks to the relative proximity of mountain chains and the long seacoast—and given the pivotal importance of farming and pasturage in this traditionally agrarian economy, the synergy between the human and natural worlds has played a prominent role in Italian filmmaking since the very inception of the industry. Most recently, two developments have pushed this issue to the forefront of scholarly attention: the advent of ecocriticism, which found one of its earliest and most influential champions in Serenella Iovino, and the establishment of regional film commissions, grassroots production centers that sponsored cinematic works attuned to the specificity of “the local.” The course includes study of films that predate our current environmental consciousness, as well as recent films that foreground it in narrative terms. In the case of the older films, which have already attracted a great deal of critical commentary over time, we work to shift our interpretive frame in an “eco-friendly” direction (even when the films’ characters are hardly friends of the environment). Among the films considered are Le quattro volte, Il vento fa il suo giro, L’uomo che verrà, Gomorra, L’albero degli zoccoli, Riso amaro, Red Desert, Christ Stopped at Eboli, and Il ladro di bambini. We screen one film a week and devote our seminars to close analysis of the works in question.