This course looks at the depiction of masculinity in Italian films in the decades after World War II. We start with a discussion of Italian Fascism, focusing on its rhetoric of virility and violence. In particular, students will trace how the regime used visual media –photography, sculpture and cinema– in order to invent its ideal man - bellicose, reproductive and macho. Which men were considered worthy of imitation? Alternately, whose bodies were said to dilute the nation’s potency? With this as a backdrop, we then turn to cinematic and fictional representations of manhood in the post-war years. Students will analyze films in light of historical context, imagery and narrative structure. If the Fascist state tried to define acceptable borders of “manliness” through state-funded cinema, film directors after the war often used the camera to question inherited icons of manliness. In this class, we will learn about the ways that cinema has framed and contested prevailing gender roles
In this class, students will pay close attention to the relations between visual form and content, between film and viewer. Written assignments and in-class activities will help us learn how to engage critically with a cinematic work. Students are expected to attend class regularly, coming ready to discuss all assigned films and readings. Graded assignments will include short (5-7 page) argumentative essays. In preparation for these essays, students will first complete a number of ungraded response papers. In order to improve our analytical writing, all assignments will be peer-reviewed in class before the due date. After the first week, a pair of students will lead class discussion for twenty minutes during each meeting.