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Dr. Wayne Rebhorn, Director 208 W. 21st St. Stop B5003, Austin, Tx 78712 • 512-471-1925

Douglas G. Biow

Professor

Professor of French and Italian, Director of the Center for European Studies
Douglas G. Biow

Contact

Biography

Douglas Biow is the Superior Oil Company-Linward Shivers Centennial Professor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Director of the Center for European Studies, Director of the France-UT Institute, and Co-Director of the EU Center of Excellence.  He is the author of a number of articles and five books: Mirabile Dictu: Representations of the Marvelous in Medieval and Renaissance Italy (Michigan, 1996); Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries: Humanism and Professions in Renaissance Italy (Chicago, 2002), the recipient of a Robert W. Hamilton Book Award; The Culture of Cleanliness in Renaissance Italy (Cornell, 2006), named a Choice Outstanding Title; and, most recently, the forthcoming Reflections on the Importance of Being an Individual: Men and Their Professions, Male Mavericks, and Manly Fashions in Renaissance Italy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014).  He has been the recipient of a number of scholarly awards, including NEH and Guggenheim Fellowships.

 

 

UGS 303 • Italian Cinema

65320-65330 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 930-1100 PAR 301
show description

UGS 303  Italian Cinema

 

Prof. Douglas Biow, Instructor

Email: biow@mail.utexas.edu

Tel: (512) 471-7267 (office)

Office: HRH 2.110B

Office hours: TTh 12:30-1:30

 

Christine Deden, TA

Email: cdeden@gmail.com

Office: HRH 4.102A

Office hours: MW 3-4

 

Lectures: TTh 9:30-11:00 in PAR 301

Discussion sections:            F 1-2 in RLM 7.116

                                    F 2-3 in ECJ 1.214

                                    F 3-4 in BUR 128

Film screenings: Selected Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6pm in MEZ B0.306

 

Course Description

This course will consist of a broad and varied sampling of classic Italian films from WWII to the present.  We will consider the works that typify major directors and major trends through five decades of filmmaking.  I will trace a certain stylistic and thematic development from neorealism to postmodernism, pointing out both the continuity of the tradition and exceptions to it, in an attempt to define the art of Italian film.  In the process, we will become more aware how we, as viewers, respond to films in socially and culturally determined ways.  Classes will include visual analysis of films.  Students will be required to see films at the regularly scheduled viewings (Mondays and Wednesdays, with one Friday thrown in) unless they can demonstrate that they have a class conflict.

 

Readings

Bondanella.  Italian Cinema (available at University Coop)

Other material on Blackboard

 

Assignments and Grading

There will be 5 papers.  No exams. BUT: Quizzes every weekQuizzes will be held at the beginning of class and may not be made up.  Come on time!

The 5 papers will be 2 pages in length.  Each paper should have a separate title page with your name and email address on it.  Neither the title nor your name should appear at the top of the first page of the paper proper.  The papers should be double-spaced, with 1” margins and 12 pt Times type.

 

60% - Essays

15% - Quizzes

25% - Class Participation and Friday writing/discussion activities

 

More than 3 absences will automatically lower your final grade.  (NOTE: Absences for both lectures and Friday discussion groups count!)  For each additional absence your final grade will be lowered by 1/3 (a B becomes a B-, etc.).

 

The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.  For more information, contact the Office off the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641.

 

Class Work

You are required to attend class and actively participate in discussions about the reading material.  The material assigned for each class corresponds to the date. Make sure you view the films at the assigned screenings and do the reading before class (TAKE NOTES on the films; you are expected to have something to say about them).  You will occasionally have short in-class “thought pieces” to write, just to get you formulating ideas for discussion and to make sure you are reading the material with some thought.

 

Writing

Your writing matters.  It is not enough to have interesting thoughts.  You must express those thoughts in an intelligible, structured, and eloquent prose.

Your writing must be your own work.  If you plagiarize egregiously on a paper, you will flunk the entire work for that semester.  Simple rule of thumb: “If you use words or ideas that are not your own you must cite your sources. Otherwise you will be guilty of plagiarism.” If you have any questions as to what constitutes plagiarism, consult the definition in Hacker, A Pocket Manual of Style (I think we all know what it means, however). 

If you are concerned about what it means to write a college paper, you can find sound advice in Trimble, Writing with Style (you can easily purchase a second-hand copy of this book).  Rhetoric & Composition recommends SF Express by Ruszkiewicz (again, you can easily find a second-hand copy).  I will also be putting on Blackboard copies of some sound suggestions written by a colleague of mine in the English Department, Professor Wayne A. Rebhorn, who is a first-rate scholar, teacher, writer, and editor.  I hope you will find all his suggestions to be helpful.  If you follow them, you are bound to do a good job on your papers.

 

Schedule for Film Screenings

ALL FILMS BEGIN AT 6PM, AND SOME WILL LAST PAST 8PM.  WITH ONE EXCEPTION, FILMS WILL BE IN MEZ BO.306

Aug. 31  Monday, SCREENING, Open City

Sept. 4  Friday, SCREENING, Paisan

Sept. 16  Wednesday, SCREENING, Bicycle Thief 

Sept. 23  Wednesday, SCREENING, La Strada

Sept. 28  Monday, SCREENING, La dolce vita

Oct. 7  Wednesday, SCREENING, Bellissima

Oct. 14  Wednesday, SCREENING, Red Desert

Oct. 21  Wednesday, SCREENING, Mamma Roma

Oct.  26 Monday SCREENING, The Conformist

Nov.  4  Wednesday, SCREENING, We All Loved Each Other So Much  

Nov. 9   Monday, SCREENING, Icicle Thief

Nov. 11 Wednesday, SCREENING, Stolen Children

Nov. 18  Wednesday, SCREENING, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso VHS version

Nov. 23 Monday, SCREENING, Life is Beautiful  NOTE: WE MEET IN MEZ 1.306

Nov. 30  Monday, SCREENING, Caro Diario

 

Schedule for Lectures

 

Aug. 27  Introduction to course.  History of Italian Cinema until WWII

 

UNIT ONE: NEOREALISM

 

Sept.  1  Discussion: Open City (Rossellini) (Read Bondanella, 1-30; Giannetti on Blackboard)

Sept.  3  Review of Italian Political History, Rossellini.  (Read Bondanella, 31-52, 161-66)

 

Sept. 8 Discussion: Paisan  (Rossellini)

Sept.         10 Discussion:  Paisan

 

Sept. 15 Classical Neorealism (Read Bondanella, 52-66; Zavattini and Bazin on Blackboard)

Sept. 17 Discussion: Bicycle Thief  (De Sica)

 
 

PLEASE ATTEND ONE OF THESE LECTURES in Bass Concert hall, 7 PM.

September 21

The State of the Economy

Tom Gilligan

Dean, Red McCombs School of Business

 

September 22

How to Know a Tyrant When You See One:

Models of Tyranny and Leadership from Classical Drama

Paul Woodruff

Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         UNIT TWO: THE GREAT AUTEURS/METACINEMA

 

Sept. 22 Federico Fellini: Beyond Neorealism (Read Bondanella, 113-41; 228-52; Fellini on Blackboard) FIRST PAPER DUE

Sept. 24  Discussion: La Strada  (Fellini)

 

Sept. 29  Discussion: La dolce vita (Fellini)

Oct. 1 Discussion of Gilligan & Woodruff talks. 

 

Oct. 6  Luchino Visconti and Marxist Aesthetics (Read Bondanella, 66-73, 96-100, 196-210)

Oct. 8 Discussion: Bellissima  (Visconti)

 

Oct. 9 VISIT TO THE BLANTON, Guest lecturer: Katie Anania (Art History): Modernism in the Visual Arts.  Please arrive at the Blanton Museum by 12:55, 1:55, and 2:55, depending on your section.   It usually takes a few minutes just to store stuff, and I’d like us to be in a position to dedicate as much time as possible to viewing a choice selection of European Modernist art.

 

Oct. 13 Antonioni

Oct. 15 Discussion: Red Desert  (Antonioni)  (Read the Antonioni on Blackboard.)

 

UNIT THREE: MISERABILISM, RESISTANCE, and FASCISM REVISITED

 

Oct. 20. Pasolini and the Poetics of Juxtaposition SECOND PAPER DUE

Oct. 22  Discussion: Mamma Roma  (Pasolini)

 

Oct. 27  Discussion: The Conformist (Bertolucci) 

Oct. 29 A break: Commedia all’Italiana (clips)

 

       UNIT FOUR: NEOREALISM REVISITED: POSTMODERNISM AND NOSTALGIA

 

Nov. 3 Modernism/Post-Modernism—definitions/shared assumptions (and errors)

         (Collins on Blackboard: PLEASE READ!)  THIRD PAPER DUE

Nov. 5   Discussion: We All Loved Each Other So Much  (Scola)

 

Nov. 10  Discussion: Icicle Thief (Nichetti)

Nov. 12  Discussion: Stolen Children (Amelio)

 

         UNIT FIVE: LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD

 

Nov. 17  NO CLASS: Make-up class on Nov. 24th, afternoon lecture by Professor Millicent Marcus, Yale University

Nov. 19  Discussion: Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (Tornatore)  FOURTH PAPER DUE

 

Nov. 24 Guest Lecture, Discussion of Benigni

Nov. 24  Millicent Marcus: Lecture on Life is Beautiful (Benigni) 5 pm in Garrison 0.102

Nov. 26 NO CLASS: Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Dec. 1 Discussion: Caro Diario (Moretti)

Dec. 3  Concluding Thoughts

 

 

FINAL PAPER DUE

 

Books

In Your Face

Professional Improprieties and the Art of Being Conspicuous in Sixteenth-Century Italy

(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010)

Product Description
In Your Face concentrates on the Renaissance concern with "self-fashioning" by examining how a group of Renaissance artists and writers encoded their own improprieties in their works of art. In the elitist court society of sixteenth-century Italy, where moderation, limitation, and discretion were generally held to be essential virtues, these men consistently sought to stand out and to underplay their conspicuousness at once. The heroes (or anti-heroes) of this book—Michelangelo Buonarroti, Benvenuto Cellini, Pietro Aretino, and Anton Francesco Doni—violated norms of decorum by promoting themselves aggressively and by using writing or artworks to memorialize their assertiveness and intractable delight in parading themselves as transgressive and insubordinate on a grand scale. Focusing on these sorts of writers and visual artists, Biow constructs a version of the Italian Renaissance that is neither the elegant one of Castiglione's and Vasari's courts—so recently favored in scholarly accounts—nor the dark, conspiratorial one of Niccolò Machiavelli's and Francesco Guicciardini's princely states.

Reviews
"Once again, Douglas Biow gives us a clear, clever, engaging rethinking of a crucial aspect of Italian Renaissance culture and life. This truly unique work is highly intelligent, exciting, and thought-provoking."
—Guido Ruggiero, University of Miami


"Douglas Biow's In Your Face is a fascinating study of the nature of literary and artistic eccentricity in late Renaissance Italy. He reminds us that, in an era in which writers such as Castiglione polished the image of the perfect courtier, many of the most interesting figures were deliberately and provocatively uncouth. This is a terrific, thought-provoking book." —Paula Findlen, Stanford University

The Culture of Cleanliness in Renaissance Italy

(Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2006)

Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title

Product Description

Concerned about sanitation during a severe bout of plague in Milan, Leonardo da Vinci designed an ideal, clean city. Leonardo was far from alone among his contemporaries in thinking about personal and public hygiene, as Douglas Biow shows in The Culture of Cleanliness in Renaissance Italy. A concern for cleanliness, he argues, was everywhere in the Renaissance.

Anxieties about cleanliness were expressed in literature from humanist panegyrics to bawdy carnival songs, as well as in the visual arts. Biow surveys them all to explain why the topic so permeated Renaissance culture. At one level, cleanliness, he documents, was a matter of real concern in the Renaissance. At another, he finds, issues such as human dignity, self-respect, self-discipline, social distinction, and originality were rethought as a matter of artistic concern.

The Culture of Cleanliness in Renaissance Italy moves from the clean to the unclean, from the lofty to the base. Biow first examines the socially elevated, who defined and distinguished themselves as clean, pure, and polite. He then turns to soap, an increasingly common commodity in this period, and the figure of the washerwoman. Finally he focuses on latrines, which were universally scorned yet functioned artistically as figures of baseness, creativity, and fun in the works of Dante and Boccaccio. Paralleling this social stratification is a hierarchy of literary and visual artifacts, from the discourse of high humanism to filthy curses and scatological songs. Deftly bringing together high and low-as well as literary and visual-cultures, this book provides a fresh perspective on the Italian Renaissance and its artistic legacy.

Reviews
"Douglas Biow is emerging as one of the most original scholars of Renaissance Italy. Transgressive, witty, insightful, The Culture of Cleanliness will appeal to readers immensely. Who thinks of Dante as someone who writes about shit? Who has noticed how important clean clothes are in Renaissance paintings? Who connects Renaissance literary genres-high, medium, and low-with hierarchies of cleanliness? Probing these boundaries with energy and insight, Biow offers up new perspectives on the culture of both humanists and washerwomen. His writing is excellent, and the conceptualization of his material brilliant."- John Jeffries Martin, Trinity University

"In a suggestive way this fascinating book reverses Dante's Divine Comedy--starting with Paradise and its immaculately clean dreams of the divine and the perfect, it drops through the circles of the renaissance world ending literally in the cesspool and latrines of Hell, perverse but also intriguing nightmares of the foul for the period. In doing so it develops a stimulating and challengingly different perspective on the time from the perspective of the clean and the unclean at every level from high culture to quotidian practice. At once witty, erudite and clever, it imaginatively and ironically knocks the crap out of many of the classical visions of the period, by literally returning crap (and its culturally entwined levels of the unclean) to its central place in renaissance life as lived and as imagined. Bakhtin, Elias and Burckhardt here are creatively melded with Dante, Boccaccio, Castiglione, Della Casa and a host of lesser known writers to examine a relatively ignored area of renaissance life and to suggestively rethink the renaissance itself. This is history that is definitely fun to think and rethink."—Guido Ruggiero, University of Miami

Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries

Humanism and Professions in Renaissance Italy

(Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2002)

Product Description
In this book, Douglas Biow traces the role that humanists played in the development of professions and professionalism in Renaissance Italy, and vice versa. For instance, humanists were initially quite hostile to medicine, viewing it as poorly adapted to their program of study. They much preferred the secretarial profession, which they made their own throughout the Renaissance and eventually defined in treatises in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Examining a wide range of treatises, poems, and other works that humanists wrote both as and about doctors, ambassadors, and secretaries, Biow shows how interactions with these professions forced humanists to make their studies relevant to their own times, uniting theory and practice in a way that strengthened humanism. His detailed analyses of writings by familiar and lesser-known figures, from Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Tasso to Maggi, Fracastoro, and Barbaro, will especially interest students of Renaissance Italy, but also anyone concerned with the rise of professionalism during the early modern period.

Review
"Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries is a formidable accomplishment. Biow traces the interactions of humanist culture with distinct areas of professional expertise and practice. His readings of key historical figures and works are compelling, even brilliant at times. Persuasively written, this work will attract a wide range of readers interested in the intertwined histories of the humanistic Renaissance and early modernity." - Albert Russell Ascoli, University of California, Berkeley

Mirabile Dictu

Mirabile Dictu Representations of the Marvelous in Medieval and Renaissance Epic

(Ann Arbor: University of Michiagn Press, 1996)

Product Description
Mirabile Dictu covers in six separate chapters the works of Virgil, Dante, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser. Its broad aim is to provide a select cross-section of works in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in order systematically to examine and compare for the first time the marvelous in the light of epic genre, of literary and critical theory (both past and present), and of historically and culturally determined representational practices.

Douglas Biow organizes this volume around the literary topos of the bleeding branch through which a metamorphosed person speaks. In each chapter the author takes this "marvellous event" as his starting point for a broad-ranging comparison of the several poets who employed the image; he also investigates the ways in which a period's notion of "history" underpins its representations of the marvelous. This method offers a controlled yet flexible framework within which to develop readings that engage a multiplicity of theories and approaches.

Mirabile Dictu offers not only an insightful survey of the literary connections among this group of important poets, but also a useful point of departure for scholars and students intrigued by the reuse of epic conventions, by the peculiar role of "marvellous" events in dramatic poetry, and by the later history of classical literature.

Reviews
"[An] engaging comparative study of literature and culture. . . . Biow's analyses are informed and thoughtful, offering insightful close readings of primary texts in connection with various theoretical and cultural lines of critical inquiry. Written in a lively, engaging, and jargon-free style, this study is both accessible and challenging, offering a refreshing lucidity in its attention to detail and method. Scholars, teachers, and students of classical, medieval, and early modern literature and culture will doubtless find much of interest in this study, a welcome addition to comparative medieval and Renaissance studies."
--Sixteenth Century Journal


". . . highly recommended as an engaging and original account of the ways in which that ambiguous concept of the marvelous informs epic poetry of the late-medieval and early-modern eras."
--Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies


"Delightful and instructive readings all along the way . . . ."
--Choice

Current Research

I am currently developing two book-length projects. One is monograph on the history of the individual in European thought from antiquity to the end of the early modern period. The other is an edited volume devoted to sociable spaces, beyond the court, in Renaissance Italy.

 

Honors

Academic Honors, Fellowships, and Awards

  • 2008-9: Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for Research in Venice and the Veneto (winter)
  • 2008: Fellow of the Humanities Institute, University of Texas at Austin (spring)
  • 2007: Recipient of a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title (The Culture of Cleanliness)
  • 2007: Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for Research in Venice and the Veneto (summer)
  • 2006-7: John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Foundation
  • 2006-7: Faculty Research Assignment, University of Texas at Austin
  • 2006: Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for Research in Venice and the Veneto (summer)
  • 2005: Dean’s Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin (fall semester)
  • 2003: Recipient of a Robert W. Hamilton Book Award (Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries)
  • 2003: Faculty Research Assignment, University of Texas at Austin (spring semester)
  • 1996-97: National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship
  • 1996-97: National Humanities Center Fellowship (declined)
  • 1996-97: Faculty Research Assignment, University of Texas at Austin
  • 1996: Summer Research Assignment, University of Texas at Austin
  • 1992: Summer Research Award, Syracuse University
  • 1988-89: Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program
  • 1986-88: The Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, United States Department of Education

Publications

Biow, D.G. (2010) Beards in Cinquecento Italy. In J. Hairston & W. Stephens (Eds.), The Body in Early Modern Italy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Biow, D.G. (2010) In Your Face: Professional Improprieties and the Art of Being Conspicuous in Sixteenth-Century Italy. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Biow, D.G. (2010, January) Manly Matters: The Theatricality and Sociability of Beards in Giordano Bruno’s Candelaio and Sixteenth-Century Italy. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
Biow, D.G. (2008, September) Diplomacy: Castiglione and the Art of Being Inconspicuously Conspicuous. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 38, 35-55.
Biow, D.G. (2007) Food: Pietro Aretino and the Art of Conspicuous Consumption. In J.J. Martin (Ed.), The Renaissance World. Oxford: Routledge.
Biow, D.G. (2006) The Culture of Cleanliness in Renaissance Italy. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
Biow, D.G. (2003, September) Reflections on Professions and Humanism in Renaissance Italy and the Humanities Today. Rinascimento, 43, 333-353.
Biow, D.G. (2002) Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries: Humanism and Professions in Renaissance Italy. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
Biow, D.G. (1999, September) Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons. Little, Brown and Company.
Biow, D.G. (1998) From Machiavelli to Torquato Accetto: The Secretarial Art of Dissimulation. In G. Patrizi & A. Quondam (Eds.), Educare il corpo, educare la parola (pp.219-238). Rome: Bulzoni.
Biow, D.G. (1996, September) The Politics of Cleanliness in Northern Renaissance Italy. Symposium, 50, 1-13.
Biow, D.G. (1996) Mirabile Dictu: Representations of the Marvelous in Medieval and Renaissance Epic. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Biow, D.G. (1994, September) Epic Performance on Trial: Virgil's Aeneid and the Power of Eros in Song. Arethusa, 27, 223-246.
Biow, D.G. (1992, September) Dido, Pier della Vigna, and the Discourse of Tragedy in the Commedia. Stanford Italian Review, 11, 155-170.
Biow, D.G. (1991) From Ignorance to Knowledge: The Marvelous in Inferno 13. In The Poetry of Allusion: Virgil and Ovid in Dante's (pp.45-61). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Biow, D.G. (1989, September) Psychoanalysis, History, Marginality: A Study of Violence and Disease in Pirandello's Enrico IV. Italica, 66, 158-175.
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