R5B, Section 1: Missing Revolutions in Italian Modernity

TuTh 8-9:30 | 130 Dwinelle | Instructor: Instructor TBA

Units: 4

This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

This course is about revolutions that might have taken place but didn’t, or that almost were but weren’t, in Italy from the Napoleonic era to the early twenty-first century. The (non-)events known as rivoluzioni mancate, or missing revolutions, occupy a privileged place in many accounts of Italian history and culture, including accounts of national unification, fascism and its aftermath, industrialization, and decolonization. As we consider the importance and implications of such missing revolutions, we’ll also attend to the various meanings both of “revolution” and of “missing.” We’ll ask, for instance, not only what it means to say that a revolution has been missed, like an appointment or a deadline, but also what happens when we come to miss moments of revolutionary energy—because this energy seems to have gone missing, like a lost dog, or to have become a thing of the past.

Poetry has long been defined as the kind of writing that both preserves and prefigures still unrealized possibilities. (According to Aristotle, “the historian relates what happened, the poet what might happen.”) We will therefore return repeatedly to poets’ attempts to imagine revolution in the Italian context, even while we also consider the work of filmmakers, novelists, essayists, and critics. We’ll study works by Antonioni, Bellocchio, Berger, Bertolucci, Fortini, Foscolo, Gramsci, Pasolini, Rosselli, Rossellini, and Sontag, among others.

This is a writing-intensive course, which means that, even as we locate and learn to value unrealized potentials in literature and cinema, we will seek to realize our own potential as writers through frequent writing assignments and focused revision.

Texts:  to be announced.

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.