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Oltre il libro: nuove forme di narratività sugli/dagli USA

N. 9 Nuova Serie

Autunno-Inverno 2015 - Anno XXII


A cura di: 
Vincenzo Bavaro e Donatella Izzo

Realizzazione editoriale: Michela Donatelli

La copertina riproduce l’opera dello street artist brasiliano Tinho In the Searching of Love, realizzata su un edificio di Djerba, Tunisia. L’immagine è riprodotta per gentile concessione dell’autore.

Colophon

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Oltre il libro: nuove forme di narratività sugli/dagli USA

Sconfinamenti e abiezioni: una doppia introduzione - p.5

Donatella Izzo, Vincenzo Bavaro
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L’ultimo dei mohicani da Fenimore Cooper alla rete - p.13

Anna Scannavini

The article investigates how the theme of intermarriage migrates from Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans by way of film production to the internet. Drawing on the sequence of film adaptations inaugurated in 1909 by Griffith, the article discusses how the 1992 movie directed by Michael Mann taps its antecedents to revise the novel’s sentimental plot, and somehow reinstate Indians into the process of nation formation. Despite its ideological shortcomings and consolatory end, the film’s riveting rhythm and the overpowering bodily presence of both actors and scenery have proved capable of capturing the audience. As a consequence, the article argues, Mann has set its own "canon" prompting, in his own turn, a new wave of adaptations and expansions. Most particularly, the 1992 film has been taken over by the users of the internet, among them fanfiction writers. The last part of the article is devoted to analyzing how fanfiction has rewritten parts of the movie, elaborating on the fatal doom of the trans-cultural triangle of Alice, Uncas and Magua.

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Dal Mare Egeo all’Oceano Atlantico: la saga epica di 300 e la nascita dell’impero americano - p.29

Enrico Botta

The essay argues that the historical evocation of the heroic deeds of the ancient Greeks in the two blockbusters 300 (2007) and 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), which critics have mainly read in connection with the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, actually belongs within an older tradition. The essay investigates how the two movies revive a political paradigm dating back to the Founding Fathers, which represents the effort of the revolutionary colonies to oppose the British empire in terms of the Spartans’ attempt to stop the advance of the Persian imperial army at the Thermopylae, and connects the new nation’s imperial ambitions with the triumph of the Greek coalition in the battle of Salamis, marking the establishment of an empire in the Aegean Sea. Finally, the essay explores the exceptionalist implications of projecting the national formation and the imperial aspirations of the United States into a mythical and epic past, and of the chronological and ideological overlapping between the independence of the thirteen colonies and the rise of the American empire.

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Senza Esorcismi: Cruising (1980) di William Friedkin tra contestazioni infuriate e attrazioni fatali - p.41

Vincenzo Bavaro

In the summer of 1979, established director William Friedkin was filming his next movie, Cruising, on the streets of the Greenwich Village in New York City. The gay community anticipated that the movie would be "the most oppressive, ugly, bigoted look at homosexuality" (A. Bell) ever filmed, and several activists organized a massive opposition to the shooting, first, and to the opening in theaters nationwide, the following year. This essay attempts to capture the complexity of this cultural moment through an investigation of the film’s reception in local and national press. It also questions the late appeal of the film and its appropriation by present-day audiences in terms of both its stylistic and thematic features. Bavaro argues that both the film’s ostensible formal incoherence and lack of closure, and its brave treatment of gay sexual practices, may have an unexpected resonance within contemporary queer culture.

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Svolte sbagliate? Stereotipi sociali e paesaggi della paura nella tradizione cinematografica del backwoods horror - p.55

Elena dell’Agnese

Since the end of the nineteenth century, the inhabitants of mountain and rural areas of the South of the United States, variously called "hillbillies," "rednecks," or "hicks," have been represented, both by the media and by scientific or pseudo-scientific literature, in very stereotypical manners. To this day they are the objects of a derogatory strand of humor, referred to their alleged violent behavior, bad teeth, inbreeding and genetic deviance. Without claiming to offer a historical perspective about the genealogy of these stereotypes or understanding whether they have now evolved into a relational "figuration," this paper tries to analyze the role of popular culture in their making. Specifically, it will take into consideration a prolific cinematic sub-genre, known as "backwoods horror," where the victim is coded as urban and both the setting and the monster as rural. In the typical plot, a group of "urbanites," after taking a "wrong turn," end up in the hand of a rural family of "hillbillies" or "rednecks," not only genetically deviant and toothless, but also very cruel and sometimes even cannibals. Such a negative representation would be unacceptable if the "villains" were ethnically or racially identified, but becomes acceptable towards characters who are indeed poor and unable to speak properly, but definitely white. This raises questions about different attitudes towards class and race in contemporary United States.

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“A Little Somethin’ You Can’t Take Off”: La Storia e il cinema di Quentin Tarantino - p.69

Serana Fusco

Especially focusing, in its analytical effort, on Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012), this essay discusses how an engagement with History is significant to the whole of Quentin Tarantino’s cinematic oeuvre, and has become especially visible in his most recent works. While it can be maintained that Tarantino mixes and blurs fact and fiction according to his postmodern aesthetics, this essay argues that Tarantino does not do so gratuitously; to the contrary, the intertwinement of fact and fiction in his oeuvre raises questions such as: how is cinema – and, more generally, fictional narrative – germane to a reflection on which representations become validated as historical truths, and which do not? How can cinema reconfirm or question such validation? The essay attempts to demonstrate that both Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained are explicit commentaries on the power of fiction to shape history, the historical (and material) weight of representational choices, and the ethical implications of both.

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Apocalissi provvidenziali: The Walking Dead e la politica postuma - p.86

Gaetano Martire

This essay analyzes the first four volumes of the critically acclaimed comic book The Walking Dead, trying to uncover its implicit ideological assumptions and political standpoint. It argues that the zombies in the series stand for a devalued otherness perceived as threatening by right-wing capitalism: those in the comics who were deluded into embracing the values of statism, pacifism, or gender egalitarianism are bound to face death and zombification; the only way to survive in the new world is by abiding with an unscrupulous, anomic Realpolitik. At the end of the essay, the zombie apocalypse is presented as an extreme rendition of Giorgio Agamben’s "state of exception", in which political liberties are confiscated by means of a continuous appeal to emergency and necessity.

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“Non è uno scherzo sapere continuare”: Guccini, l’America e quella strada tra “la via Emilia e il West” - p.102

Cristiana Pagliarusco

Francesco Guccini imbues his songs and writings with autobiographical accounts that display an inclination to reveal both the actual and the imaginary in himself and his own world. The article highlights the influence that US culture and literature have exerted on this representative Italian singer-songwriter, whose work spans at least two generations, in an attempt to show how he has played a key role in the transmission and circulation in Italy of a certain mythification of "America". The article analyzes three songs to argue that Guccini has overcome the delusions of "the American dream" in order to pursue, even within the fragility of our precarious lives, a behavioral ethics inspired by a dialogue that still seeks to explore a land of human possibilities.

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La Louisiana di True Detective. Attori e attanti geografici in una serie televisiva - p.102

Fabio Amato

This essay analyzes one of the latest and most successful TV series from the USA, True Detective, outlining some of its most significant narrative features, and focusing especially on the most recurrent and stereotypical ones: the male bond between the two detectives, against the backdrop of the evocative and mysterious Louisiana landscape. The essay suggests that the geographical landscape can be legitimately regarded as one of the story’s protagonists and attempts to define the elements of this protagonist role.

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Saggi

La tradizione del radicalismo nero e la politica dell’umano: riflessioni su una politica radicale per il nostro tempo - p.124

Anthony Bogues

Arguing that there is a distinctive black radical intellectual tradition which poses a set of questions about "what does it mean to be human?," this essay draws upon a set of thinkers, Fanon, Césaire and Wynter, to map this tradition and some of the questions it asked. It argues that the question of the human posed in this tradition cannot be separated from issues of human freedom and posits that in our current conjuncture practices of freedom are generated by the work of the radical imagination.

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The Corpse, the Machine, the Garden: immagini di guerra e ideologia pastorale in The Orchard Keeper - p.136

Marco Petrelli

Cormac McCarthy’s The Orchard Keeper is generally considered to be a requiem for the Southern pastoral idyll. Critics have already noticed how the author makes use of the classic "machine in the garden" motif to exemplify the destructive effects of historical and technological progress on the mythical dimension of the pastoral world. This detrimental intrusion is embodied in the novel by an enigmatic "government tank" and by the hidden corpse of a military veteran turned highwayman. Through the interpretation of these symbols as figurations of both WWI and WWII, this essay posits the centrality of war itself as the main threat to the pastoral order of life.

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Una poetica della scomparsa. Sulla poesia di Paul Auster - p.148

Andrea Pitozzi

Although he is now one of the most celebrated contemporary American novelists, Paul Auster started his career as a poet and a translator of poetry. This essay focuses on the concept of disappearance, which emerges from Auster’s verses almost as a form of aesthetic thinking, close to the ideas of Maurice Blanchot. The idea of disappearance seems to operate as a device within the act of writing itself, and produces a transformation of the writing subject and his or her world. This fundamental Blanchotian thesis represents a line of inquiry for reading Auster’s poetry, especially from the point of view of the experience of writing. Auster’s "poetics of disappearance" is a clear example of Blanchot’s influence on his way of looking at the act of writing, especially in his early and lesser known works.

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