Italy in Early American Cinema: Race, Landscape, and the Picturesque

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Overview

Once associated with landscape painting in Northern Europe, the picturesque painting style came to symbolize Mediteeranean Europe through comforting views of distant landscapes and exotic characters. Showing readers how this aesthetic traveled to America and was transferred from nineteenth-century painters to early twentieth-century photographers and filmmakers, Bertellini moves from Western films and travelogues to urban melodramas featuring Southern Italians, the picturesque's original characters.

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Editorial Reviews

Fra Noi

"Bertellini has done a great service not just to scholars of American film, but also to the Italian-American citizen, by concentrating on this overlooked, but rich vein of American culture." —Fra Noi, August 2010

Times Literary Supplement

"Bertellini's sophisticated interdisciplinary study addresses questions of race moving between Italy and America in the prehistory and early history of film.... Bertellini's persuasive thesis that identity-formation works, among other things, through the picturesque, provides a further explanation for our persistent need for a local aura of realist 'authenticity' in our idea of what Italian cinema should give us." —Times Literary Supplement

Film History

"Bertellini's Italy in Early American Cinema is simply an extraordinary achievement.... He has been meticulous and indefatigable in discovering a wealth of original historical source material and honed and re-honed the text into an exemplary model of lucid, sophisticated, critical historical analysis." —Film History, Vol. 22, 2010

Altreitalie

"The book is beautifully illustrated and its sources are often spectacular. Bertellini finds historical evidence where previous researchers found none.... Unlike much of recent film historical research, which remains confined to a rather empirical presentation of previously unknown documents, Bertellini wants to insert these archives into a rich interdisciplinary, long-term development." —Altreitalie, July - December 2010

Marcia Landy

"Bertellini moves with ease through social history, art history, anthropology, and theories and histories of cinema.... His work offers an important and unique scholarly treatment... fascinating reading for Italians, Italian-Americans, and general readers interested in the history, culture, and ideology of immigration." —Marcia Landy, University of Pittsburgh

Donna R. Gabaccia

"Italy in Early American Cinema is a terrific book: erudite, wide-ranging, and eye-opening. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the early cinema or in the complex history of Italy’s relations to the wider world." —Donna R. Gabaccia, University of Minnesota

Millicent Marcus

"To read Bertellini’s superb book is to enter into an intense, rich, and intricately layered experience of Italian immigrant culture in the New York of the 1900’s and 1910’s." —Millicent Marcus, Yale University

Historical Journal of Film

"Bertellini situates early cinema within a broad geopolitical framework that 'calls for a reconsideration of race as a long-lasting visual form' and invites the film scholar to reexamine the medium's specificity. This makes Italy in Early American Cinema a seminal contribution to the field of cinema studies." —Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, June 2011, Vol. 31:2

From the Publisher

"The book is beautifully illustrated and its sources are often spectacular.
Bertellini finds historical evidence where previous researchers found none.... Unlike much of recent film historical research, which remains confined to a rather empirical presentation of previously unknown documents, Bertellini wants to insert these archives into a rich interdisciplinary,
long-term development." —Altreitalie, July - December 2010

"Bertellini situates early cinema within a broad geopolitical framework that 'calls for a reconsideration of race as a long-lasting visual form' and invites the film scholar to reexamine the medium's specificity. This makes Italy in Early American Cinema a seminal contribution to the field of cinema studies." —Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, June
2011, Vol. 31:2

"Bertellini has done a great service not just to scholars of American film, but also to the Italian-American citizen, by concentrating on this overlooked, but rich vein of American culture." —Fra Noi, August 2010

"Bertellini's Italy in Early American Cinema is simply an extraordinary achievement.... He has been meticulous and indefatigable in discovering a wealth of original historical source material and honed and re-honed the text into an exemplary model of lucid,
sophisticated, critical historical analysis." —Film History, Vol. 22, 2010

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253221285
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 11/18/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Giorgio Bertellini is Assistant Professor of Screen Arts and Cultures and of Romance
Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. He is author of Emir Kusturica. His edited and co-edited volumes include The Cinema of Italy and (with Richard Abel and Rob King) Early
Cinema and the "National."

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Transatlantic Racial Culture and Modern Visual Reproductions 1

Part 1 Picturing Italy's Natural and Social landscapes

1 Picturesque Mode of Difference 19

2 The Picturesque Italian South as Transnational Commodity 47

Part 2 Picture-Perfect America

3 Picturesque Views and American Natural Landscapes 95

4 Picturesque New York 134

5 Black Hands, White Faces 165

6 White Hearts 205

7 Performing Geography 236

Aftetrword: "A Mirror with a Memory" 276

Notes 293

Filmography 367

Bibliography 375

Index 421

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