THIT 350: Blockbusters and Bestsellers: Italian Cinema and Literature of the 21st Century

Instructor: Elgin Eckert - Ph.D.
Credits: 3
Prerequisite: None
Cross-Listing: Film & Media Studies, Italian Studies-Interdisciplinary, Literature

Course Description

This course provides an in-depth examination of some of the last three decade’s most popular Italian films and novels, focusing on works dealing with children and young adult issues. Key topics of Italian culture and society as represented through a child’s voice will be explored through an analysis of the selected literary works. Special attention will be paid to the author’s/director’s choice of narrator: oftentimes a child’s perspective is used to qualify the actions of adult characters. As such, the author/director has the option of either using the child’s view on the adult world as an accusatory (or at least questioning) gaze – or to use the child in order to “infantilize” the viewer and play on her/his primal emotions.

This course will analyze selected narrative and cinematic texts as sites of memory and discuss cultural memory in the context of recent Italian bestsellers/blockbusters.



Course ObjectivesCinema-Paradiso-Poster

Students in this course will:

  • develop an interdisciplinary understanding of contemporary Italian literature and cinema
  • acquire a sufficient appreciation of the representation of contemporary Italy in written and cinematic popular culture
  • be able to discuss key issues of cultural studies (such as sites of memory, children’s spaces) with a certain depth and sophistication
  • become familiar with basic cinematic techniques
  • critically analyze different genres of films according to their typologies
  • be able to relate films to their specific sociological and historical contexts


                                                    Course Materials



Gianni Amelio: Il ladro di bambini (The Stolen Children)

Roberto Benigni: La vita è bella (Life is beautiful)

Bernardo Bertolucci: Io e te (You and Me)

Nanni Moretti:La stanza del figlio (The Son’s Room)

Gabriele Salvatores: Io non ho paura (I’m not afraid)

Giuseppe Tornatore: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Cinema Paradiso)

Marco Tullio Giordana: I cento passi (One Hundred Steps)

Marco Tullio Giordana: La meglio gioventù (The Best of Youth)



Niccolò Ammaniti: I’m not scared (Io non ho paura)

Niccolò Ammaniti: You and Me (Io e te)

Silvia Avallone: Swimming to Elba (Accaio)


                                                    Mandatory course reader.