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David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

French & Italian Faculty & Graduate Student Colloquium

Wed, April 25, 2012 • 5:00 PM • HRH 2.118 (Lounge)

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Melissa Demos & Daniela Bini

Melissa Demos: "Intertextual Narrative and Theatricality in Leonardo's Last Supper"

Abstract: Leonardo's iconic Last Supper has long been studied for its innovative composition, heightened sense of pathos and for its realistic portrayal of the Apostles' emotional reactions to Christ's pronouncement.  Scholars often utilize theatrical terminology to describe the image; Steinberg calls it "psychodrama", Acidini Luchinat defines it as a "sacra rappresentazione".  Despite these overt references to theater, there is a lack of scholarship which aims to seek out correlations between Leonardo's own involvement with theater at the Sforza court and how this direct experience may have influenced his narrative style and dramatic portrayal.  It is indeed probable that the staging and dramatic gestures of the world of theater may have exposed the artist to new ideas and influenced his decisions for the inventive composition of the Last Supper.   Accepting Leo Steinberg's claim that Leonardo's mural doesn't not depict one precise moment nor a single indisputable evangelical text, in this paper, I propose that the Last Supper is intertextual, and arranged in a sort of story-board composition, harmoniously contained within a single unified frame. Leonardo may have been attempting to visually depict multiple scenes or even an entire narrative moment, while respecting the Aristotelian unities concurrently debated in literary circles, thereby assuming a pioneering role in the evolution of the narratological structure of the visual arts. 

Daniela Bini: "Operatic Appearances in the the Cinema of Marco Bellocchio"

Abstract: Starting with a brief analysis of the documentary Addio del passato. . .the essay argues that the abundance of the operatic appearances in Bellocchio’s cinematic production reveals  a contradictory attitude toward the past: his intellectual imperative to say addio to it, and his desire to recuperate it.  This attitude is exemplified by his use of opera both as popular discourse, in so far as the audience immediately recognizes the familiar aria, and as erudite citation, the discovery of whose meaning requires a level of intellectual sophistication, the ability to connect the citation to the context. Opera allows him to include the popular audience in his discourse, but at the same time to detach himself from it. Such attitude is the heritage of an elite culture and system of education, however, that precisely because of such contradiction reveals both its limitations and its richness.

Sponsored by: Department of French and Italian


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