What is "the family" in an Italian social and cultural context? How has it changed over time? How has it responded to the transformations of Italian society since the time of the postwar economic miracle until today? Have its contours changed to adapt to new values? Has it fossilized existing values? Are families limited to flesh-and-blood kinship or are they constructed along lines of shared values and loyalty? This course seeks some answers to these questions through a sustained exploration of a variety of types of families as they are presented in Italian cinema from roughly 1950 until today. We will take stock of the "traditional" family and the social values connected to it, seeking to understand how Italian filmmakers, through their focus on the family, enter into the debate concerning tradition and change within Italian society, culture, and history. We will examine family dynamics of affiliation, love, and rivalry; elective families (organized around crime syndicates, families constituted according to affinity); "failed" families and what that means; and examples of single-parent and same-sex families that seek to challenge conventional heteronormative paradigms. After some positioning readings (in sociology, history, and anthropology) that will help set a critical frame for our examination throughout the semester, we will concentrate on film texts which will be among those listed below. This course is conducted in Italian.
We will screen one primary film each week, which will anchor our discussions and serve as the basis for that week's activities. In addition, beginning the third week of the semester, students will make 10-15 minute presentations on a secondary film that will serve as a "companion" to the primary text and will thicken our understanding of that week's themes.