In Preparation: Books
PROJECT ON HISTORY AND SHAME IN POST-WAR ITALIAN CULTURE
Writing and researching Cinema Year Zero revealed Italy’s long post-war as inseparable from a sustained, collective and still unresolved flight from history and the arduous task of memory. In my current project, I am investigating shame (its corporeality, aesthetics and politics) as the pervasive emotion underlying this period. Only rarely named and represented, and usually disavowed, this affect shaped the poetic and historical imagination of post-war Italy and from there infiltrated artistic and public discourse. The study will move from the founding link between shame and Fascism, its subtle interpenetration of collaboration and victimization (e.g. Curzio Malaparte, Primo Levi), to explore the ways in which intellectuals and artists wrote, filmed, and thought in flight from their bios, the personal, corporeal site of shame. This flight is both an intellectual one into art and politics, and a physical escape into transhistorical and transnational geographies such as Ernesto De Martino’s ethnographic expeditions to the South (“la terra del rimorso”) or journeys to the third world like those of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia. If left unaddressed, shame leaves a lasting legacy across generations, warping not only the perception of the past but the belief in the future, a process I explore in the works of Marco Bellocchio and Bernardo Bertolucci and in historical phenomena like the terrorism of the 1970s.