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With its monsters, vampires and cowboys, Italian popular culture in the postwar period has generally been dismissed as a form of evasion or escapism. Here, four international scholars re-examine and reinterpret the era to show that popular Italian cinema was not only in tune with contemporary political and social trends, it also presaged the turmoil and rebellion of the 1960s and 1970s. Their analysis of peplum (or 'sword and sandal') films, horror films, spaghetti westerns and comedy Italian-style shows how genre cinema reflected the changes wrought by modernization, urbanization, consumerist culture and the sexual revolution. With striking insights into the links between popular culture and politics, this book will be indispensable for specialists in film and media studies, Italian and cultural studies, as well as social history.
Product Details

Flavia Brizio-Skov is Professor of Italian at the University of Tennessee where she teaches modern literature and cinema. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington, Seattle, and has published numerous articles in Italian, American, French, Spanish and Portuguese journals. She is also the author of a study of Lalla Romano (La scrittura e la memoria: Lalla Romano, 1993), a critical monograph on Antonio Tabucchi ('Antonio Tabucchi: navigazioni in un universo narrativo', 2002), and editor of 'Reconstructing Societies in the Aftermath of War: Memory, Identity, and Reconciliation' (2004).

About the Author

Flavia Brizio-Skov is Professor of Italian at the University of Tennessee where she teaches modern literature and cinema. She received her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington, Seattle, and has published numerous articles in Italian, American, French, Spanish and Portuguese journals. She is also the author of a study of Lalla Romano (La scrittura e la memoria: Lalla Romano, 1993), a critical monograph on Antonio Tabucchi ('Antonio Tabucchi: navigazioni in un universo narrativo', 2002), and editor of 'Reconstructing Societies in the Aftermath of War: Memory, Identity, and Reconciliation' (2004).

Reviews

'This volume locates itself at the forefront of a growing trend in English-language studies of Italian cinema: the elevation of the "popular" to the level of serious and sustained critical inquiry. [In this book] popular film genres are revealed to be exquisitely attuned to the political and cultural currents in their moment of history, and as such, they serve as sophisticated instruments for both registering and shaping collective attitudes towards the seismic social changes occurring in Italy over the course of time. In addition to its focus on the genres of the neo-mythical, horror, Spaghetti Westerns, and commedia all'italiana, this book extends understanding of the "popular" to include folk culture, with a foray into the films on Southern Italian tarantismo - Flavia Brizio-Skov has done a superb job organizing this collaborative project among four scholars (herself included) whose combined efforts exemplify the cultural studies approach at its best.' - Millicent Marcus, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Italian, Yale University; 'Flavia Brizio-Skov, brings together a group of first-rate scholars who challenge and extend the traditional, narrower sense of "high" culture to include "popular" culture. In so doing, they succeed in removing the disparaging stigma affixed to popular Italian cinema and thus rehabilitate films that have been ignored, glossed over - In its re-evaluation of the past, the book rigorously explores how popular cinema, rather than being a form of evasion or escapism, provides valuable insight into the political and social climate of Italy from the fascist period to the turbulent and transformational years of the 1960s and 1970s. The works treated in this volume not only offer new readings of the vastly popular Peplum films and Spaghetti Westerns but also about the people and society who created them and enjoyed them.' - Mark Pietralunga, Victor B. Oelschlager Professor of Modern Languages, Florida State University

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