portrait © Laila Pozzo
Photo © Laila Pozzo

Francesco Casetti is Sterling Professor of Humanities and Film and Media Studies at Yale University.

In 1970, he received a BA from Catholic University of Milan, where in 1974 he also received a “Specializzazione” (the top degree in Italy at the time) in Film and Communication Studies. He taught as Assistant Professor at the University of Genova (1974-1980), as Associate Professor at Catholic University of Milan (1984-1994), as Full Professor at the University of Trieste (1994-1998) and then at Catholic University of Milan (1998-2010), where he served as Chair of the Department in Communication and Performing Arts. He also served as President of Italian Society for film and media studies for two terms (1998-2002; 2006-2010).

He was invited as “Professeur associé” at Université de Paris III – la Sorbonne Nouvelle (1977), and as visiting professor at the University of Iowa (1988, 1991 and 1998). In 2000 he was the recipient of the Chair of Italian Culture for a distinguished scholar at the University of California-Berkeley. He was William P. Evans Fellow at the University of Otago (New Zealand) in 2011, and Fellow at the IKKM, Bauhaus University at Weimar in 2012.

He is member of the Advisory Boards of Comunicazioni Sociali (Milano), Necsus (Amsterdam), La Valle dell’Eden (Turin) and Fata Morgana (University of Calabria), and of the Steering Committee of Cinema and Cie (Paris III – Udine).

He sits on the board of “Istituto Gemelli-Musatti” (Milano) and of “Fondazione Mattei” (Milano). He is member of the steering committee of MaxMuseum, Lugano (Switzerland). He is also “consultor” of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, Vatican.

Member of the Historical Accademia degli Agiati (Rovereto, Italy), correspondent member of the Historical Accademia delle Scienze (Bologna), and foreigner member of the Historical Accademia di Scienze Morali e Politiche (Naples).

With Jane Gaines (Columbia University) is the co-founder of the Permanent Seminar on Histories of Film Theories, an international network of film scholars aimed at a systematic exploration of the field of film and media theories.

His current research focuses on three topics: early film theory, especially the cinephobic stances in the first half of the 20th Century; the re-location of cinema in new spaces and on new devices, and in general the persistence of an “idea of cinema” in the digital epoch; and screen as an optical apparatus and as a component of our “mediascapes.”

Francesco Casetti is the author of six books, translated (among other languages) in French, Spanish, and Czech, co-author of two books, editor of more than ten books and special issues of journals, and author of more than sixty essays.

During the ’70s and ’80 his research has been mostly focused on semiotics of film and television, in particular about genres, intertextuality, and enunciation. His major achievement was an extensive study on the implied spectator in film (Inside the Gaze, Indiana, 1999, or. 1986) and an edited book on television and its imagined audience (Tra me e te, 1988). During the ‘90s he increasingly moved toward an original combination of close analysis and ethnographic research of actual audiences, introducing the notion of “communicative negotiations” (L’ospite fisso, 1995, on media consumption in 32 Italian families, and Communicative Negotiation in Cinema and Television, 2002, on the idea of “communicative pact” and “communicative situation”). More recently he explored the role of cinema in the context of modernity (Eye of the Century. Film, Experience, Modernity, Columbia, 2008, or. 2005) and the reconfiguration of cinema in a post-medium epoch, comparing this shift with the rise of cinema at the beginning of 20 Century (The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key words for the Cinema to Come, Columbia, 2015). He has also significantly written on film theories (Theories of Cinema. 1945-1995, Texas UP, 1999, or. 1993; and editor of Early film theories in Italy. 1896-1922, an anthology forthcoming at Amsterdam UP).

Full CV (pdf)