In 2018, Michelle Wolf took the White House Correspondent Dinner by storm with her unforgiving jabs at President Trump, his allies, and his proxies. Wolf’s performance sparked a lively debate on social media and news outlets dissecting whether it is appropriate and productive to ridicule, in such an explicit way, men and women who might have contributed to the rise of American Fascism. By means of the romantic comedies that Vittorio De Sica shot under Mussolini’s dictatorship, this seminar—sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies—will pause on different modes of laughing at fascists and Fascism. De Sica’s Maddalena Zero in Conduct (1940) and Teresa Venerdì (1941), and A Garibaldian in the Convent (1942) have been traditionally discarded as juvenile concessions to a politics of escapism. Instead, we will explore the ways in which these rom-coms challenge fascist command and highlight that happiness can be achieved only by eschewing state-sanctioned codes of conduct.
Lorenzo Fabbri is assistant professor in Italian and Moving Image Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He has published extensively in critical theory and film studies, with his work appearing in venues as Screen, MLN, Critical Inquiry, Diacritics, Res Publica, Radical Philosophy Review, The Italianist, and Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies. His first book, The Domestication of Derrida, was published by Continuum in 2008. Lorenzo’s second book, Capturing the Nation: Italian Cinema/Italian Fascism, is forthcoming in 2020.
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Originally published at italianstudies.nd.edu.