Early Film Theories in Italy


How Italian writers, scholars, clergymen, psychologists, members of parliament and philosophers reacted to the advent of cinema? How they established a common language to discuss an invention that exceeded habits and expectations, and that transcended existing forms and categories of thought? This anthology for the first time gathers a large number of social discourses that in Italy tried to define and contextualize cinema from the 1890s to 1920s. What results is an impressive picture of a culture at distress with a “scandalous” event and eager to appropriate it for the sake of modernization.

Early Film Theories in Italy 1896-1922
edited by Francesco Casetti with Silvio Alovisio and Luca Mazzei
Amsterdam University Press, Forthcoming in 2017

A new era in cinema

In conversation: Francesco Casetti on a new era in cinema

YaleNews, April 7, 2016

Francesco Casetti, winner of the Limina Prize for Best International Film Studies Book. (Photo by Laila Pozzo)

Francesco Casetti, chair of the Film and Media Studies Program, recently received one of the most prestigious European awards in film and media studies — the XIV annual Limina Prize for Best International Film Studies Book.

Casetti, who is also the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of Humanities and professor of film studies, was honored with the award for his 2015 book, “The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come.” The prize is given by the editorial board of Cinéma & Cie. International Film Studies Journal, which includes 50 world-renowned film and media scholars.

Casetti recently met with YaleNews to talk about the impetus for his book, the new emerging era in cinema aesthetics, and why the Yale scholar believes it is important to have “novel insights into ideas in the present that were fed by the past.”

What follows is an edited version of that conversation.

Read the conversation

The Lumière Galaxy won Limina Award for the Best International Film Studies Book

Udine, 18 February 2016 – FilmForum Udine-Gorizia in association with CUC – Consulta Universitaria del Cinema and Cinéma&Cie – International Film Studies Journal are pleased to announce the winner of the Best International Film Studies Book section of the fourteenth annual Limina Prize: The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come by Francesco Casetti (Columbia University Press, 2015).

mHJZJO623cWEyunowoSiKcwThis volume argues that in the age of convergence, when the various media have tended to mutate and merge, not only has cinema survived but in fact it is flourishing once again. We find cinema in theaters, but also in our houses, in galleries and museums, on modes of transportation or in waiting rooms, on our mobile devices and online. The Seven Key Words proposed by the author help us to comprehend the ways in which cinema has opened up to new horizons, while nonetheless keeping its own distinct identity.

The Prize for Best International Film Studies Book is awarded by Editorial Board of the prestigious academic journal Cinéma & Cie. International Film Studies Journal, which is composed of world-renown international film and media scholars.

The prize-giving ceremony took place in Gorizia at FilmForum 2016, the XXIII Udine International Film Studies Conference/XIV MAGIS International Film Studies Spring School.



Dottorato honoris causa all’Università della Calabria

Schermata 2016-03-16 alle 10.49.27Conferimento Dottorato Honoris Causa a Francesco Casetti
16 marzo 2016 Teatro Auditorium – Campus di Arcavacata (CS)

Il Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici dell’Università della Calabria conferisce il Dottorato internazionale di studi umanistici honoris causa a Francesco Casetti (Yale University), studioso di cinema e di media audiovisivi, dei quali ha indagato principalmente le teorie, le strategie di comunicazione e l’impatto sociale.

Casetti, dopo l’esperienza in diversi atenei italiani (Università di Genova, di Trieste) è stato per molti anni professore ordinario di cinema  alla Cattolica di Milano (dove è stato anche Prorettore e ha diretto il Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione e dello Spettacolo), prima di approdare (dopo esperienze a Berkeley, Paris III, University of Iowa) come professore ordinario all’Università di Yale. Di recente ha insegnato anche ad Harvard. È stato anche per diversi anni Presidente della Consulta Universitaria del Cinema. Tra le sue ultime pubblicazioni ricordiamo: “La Galassia Lumière. Sette parole chiave per il cinema che viene” (2015), “L’occhio del Novecento. Cinema, esperienza, modernità” (2005), “Teorie del cinema. 1945-1990” (1993). Nei suoi testi sul cinema ha studiato, in particolare, i problemi riguardanti la teoria, i prodotti di genere, e i rapporti tra produzione e discorso critico. Più di recente, ha indirizzato la sua ricerca sulle modalità in cui il cinema ha elaborato uno sguardo capace di porsi quale emblema dell’esperienza moderna, e insieme sulle modalità in cui questo sguardo sta mutando con l’avanzare della cosiddetta post-modernità. Le sue analisi collegano strettamente processi comunicativi e processi sociali, con una costante attenzione a questioni quali le nuove forme di cittadinanza, fiducia, soggettività.

L’omaggio a Francesco Casetti prevede un ricco programma, che partirà alle ore 10:30 di mercoledì 16 marzo, con il conferimento del Dottorato e proseguirà, nel pomeriggio, con una giornata di studi che vedrà coinvolti, oltre ai docenti di cinema e teatro dell’Unical, anche alcuni dei principali studiosi di cinema provenienti da diverse università italiane.

Diretta web streaming: https://www.youtube.com/user/impressionimeridiane/live

 Locandina  Comunicato stampa

The Lumière Galaxy: NECSUS review

«Contemporary cinema’s uncertain identity is the starting point of The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Keywords for the Cinema to Come (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015) by Francesco Casetti. By telling two anecdotes, Casetti introduces the reader to basic but paramount questions, echoing André Bazin’s pivotal query: what, when, and where is cinema today? Or, in a more encompassing way: how is cinema today, as Casetti pays great attention to cinematic practices rather than essentialist surveys…».

Read Francesco Pitassio’s review on NECSUS. European Journal on Media Studies

Post-cinema, Post-McLuhan

The title of Francesco Casetti’s book – The Lumière Galaxy: seven key words for the cinema to come – is at the same time brilliant and deliberately misleading; indeed, though referring to McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy, it differs from it on at least three relevant points.

First, McLuhan insists on the importance of the medium’s technological and material basis in determining both the media experience and the perception of the medium itself; Casetti, by contrast, believes that media experiences and the very possibility of recognizing media specificities are relatively independent of their technological bases and their material conditions of viewing and listening, since they represent specific cultural forms

Second, McLuhan argues that ‘With [the] recognition of curved space in 1905 the Gutenberg galaxy was officially dissolved’ (253). Casetti’s central thesis about cinema in the digital era is exactly the opposite: the forms of cinema experience tend to survive after the end of cinema as a technological and factual apparatus, and they tend to endure even in the very different circumstances of audiovisual consumption characterizing the present condition; indeed, cultural forms bend disparate technologies and settings to their own expectations and needs, thus producing experiential forms that, despite their differences from the past, can still be targeted as ‘cinema’.

A third point of opposition between McLuhan and Casetti regards the structure of the book. Indeed, McLuhan designs his work as ‘a mosaic pattern of perception and observation’ (265), composed by a number of short chapters; on the contrary, Casetti arranges his discussion around seven chapters, each corresponding to a keyword: relocation, relics/icons, assemblage, expansion, hypertopia, display, performance. Beyond the paratactic succession of the seven issues, it is useful to introduce a distinction: while most of the chapters follow a descriptive-interpretative approach, two of them (assemblage and performance) adopt a more strictly theoretical orientation. We will set them apart in our presentation.

Ruggero Eugeni (2015) ‘The Lumière Galaxy: seven key words for the cinema to come’, New Review of Film and Television Studies, 13:4, 443-447, DOI: 10.1080/17400309.2015.1093282.

Download/Read the review