Golden Age of Italian Cinema: A Three Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi

Golden Age of Italian Cinema: A Three Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi


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What makes Italian cinema beloved by cinephiles throughout the world? What are the major works that are essential for an understanding of the key moments in Italy’s extraordinary film history? 

This course will provide participants with an understanding of the significant developments in Italian cinema while also providing them with the tools and techniques to understand and appreciate these iconic films. Together we will also connect the artistic works we examine to the social and political contexts that helped shape them.

This three-part course will focus on six of the most influential works in the history of Italian cinema, with an emphasis on how movements like neorealism and auteur film changed our global understanding of “art cinema” and its creative possibilities. For a further outline of the course, please see the Lecture descriptions below. 

Lecture 1: Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City and Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief

Our first seminar will explore the groundbreaking movement of cinematic neorealism in two masterpieces that continue to be celebrated worldwide for their artistic merits. We will consider the two very versions of “realism” in Rossellini’s politically charged Rome, Open City versus the more lyrical and intimate family portrait in De Sica’s hauntingly beautiful Bicycle Thief.

Lecture 2: Federico Fellini’s La Strada and La Dolce Vita

Our second seminar will focus on perhaps the most famous Italian filmmaker of all: the legendary Federico Fellini and his magical cinematic universe. We will examine how Fellini developed from a “neorealist” apprentice of Rossellini’s into the fabled auteur whose La Strada and La Dolce Vita became cinematic testaments to the power of the imagination and fantasy.

Lecture 3: Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura and Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard

Our final seminar will consider the work of two of Italy’s most renowned auteurs: Michelangelo Antonioni and Luchino Visconti. We will discuss two of their greatest works, Antonioni’s stunningly beautiful L’Avventura and Visconti’s sumptuous historical epic The Leopard, as we explore the very different filmmaking styles and aesthetic visions of these groundbreaking directors.

Joseph Luzzi received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, where he has taught since 2002 after being a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education, he is the author of 5 books, including My Two Italies, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his many awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In 2017 he was named Cittadino Onorario/Honorary Citizen in Acri, Calabria, his Italian parents’ birthplace. His next book is Botticelli’s Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance, which will be published by W. W. Norton. Professor Luzzi is the founder of the Virtual Book Club, an online community of readers dedicated to exploring some of the best books ever written. Learn more at JosephLuzzi.com.

How does it work?

This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation which will be provided at the course's conclusion.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $105 for three lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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