The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film

The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film

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By Barbara Alfano
Toronto Italian Studies
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
200 Pages
ISBN 9781442644052
Published Jul 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $57.00    $42.75
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442699120
Published Jul 2013
Online discount: 25%
Full purchase $57.00

The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film explores the use of images associated with the United States in Italian novels and films released between the 1980s and the 2000s. In this study, Barbara Alfano looks at the ways in which the individuals portrayed in these works – and the intellectuals who created them – confront the cultural construct of the American myth. As Alfano demonstrates, this myth is an integral part of Italians’ discourse to define themselves culturally – in essence, Italian intellectuals talk about America often for the purpose of talking about Italy.

The book draws attention to the importance of Italian literature and film as explorations of an individual’s ethics, and to how these productions allow for functioning across cultures. It thus differentiates itself from other studies on the subject that aim at establishing the relevance and influence of American culture on Italian twentieth-century artistic representations.

Barbara Alfano is a member of the faculty in Italian at Bennington College.
  • Acknowledgments
  1. Introduction
    1. The Vantage of the I: Prospecting in Perspective
    2. The Ethics of the Subject
    3. The Self and Italian Narrative
    4. Matters of Space: “l’America sta qua.” The Place of the New World in Italian literature
    5. Scholarship and the History of the American Myth
    6. Italian Modernism and America
    7. The Left “I”: A Close-up on the Italian Leftist Intellectual
    8. Mapping the Journey
  2. 1 Wandering Subjects
    1. The “I” at Wonder in Caro diario and Sogni mancini
    2. The Moralizing “I” of Nanni Moretti
    3. Caro diario: The Glue of Irony between Stupor and Stupidity
    4. Identities in absentia in Sogni mancini
  3. 2 America Ubiqua
    1. Displacing the Continent
    2. The Site of City: A Global Explosion
    3. The Ethical Space of City’s Subjects
    4. Non ci resta che piangere: The Counter-Enterprise
    5. Lamerica
  4. 3 On a Trip to America: The “I” Travels
    1. Setting Out for the Self
    2. Treno di panna, A Train That Goes Nowhere
    3. Baudrillard’s Amérique and Giovanni’s America: The Desert Explained and Exposed
    4. Staging the Insignificant
  5. 4 American Arcadia
    1. An “I” on Intellectual and Civil Engagement
    2. Alter Ego: The Narrator
    3. Et in Arcadia Ego
    4. Love and Endings in Arcadia
    5. Arcadia Responds
  6. 5 Historicizing the Dream: A Documented Eye on America
    1. A New Perspective
    2. Vita
    3. The Dream of the Fathers
    4. Nuovomondo
    5. The American Dream and Globalization
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index of Names and Titles

The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film is an original, well-argued book on a provocative theme. It examines recent Italian writers and directors who have thus far received too little attention in the English-speaking world, as they confront and interpret the ever-shifting representations of America within the Italian imaginary. Written in vigorous and lucid prose, Barbara Alfano’s timely book remedies the deficiency and encourages up to rethink cultural and ideological stereotypes from a variety of new perspectives.”

John Paul Russo, Departments of English and Classics, University of Miami, and co-author of The Italian in Modernity

The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film is a superb, seminal work that deeply explains a mythology that has affected people in Italy from the post-war period onwards. Unique in its scope and focus, it is a gripping and intelligent read that reaches across a remarkable range of media and disciplines. A brilliant book and a landmark study, it will appeal to a wide audience interested in Italian cinema and literature.”

Cristina Perissinotto, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Ottawa

The Mirage of America is not only a valuable reading for academics but also an enriching experience for non-academics.’

Serena Formica, Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies – vol 4:1:2016