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Neorealism’s Casualisation of Labour - Lecture at the UoM with Professor Karl Schoonover

  • 07 Apr 2017
  • 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
  • University of Minnesota, Nicholson 135

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The ideal neorealist actor is one who performs without performing, an amateur whose life experience weighs heavily on his or her body. This figure exemplifies what Professor Schoonover called “unbelabored labor” to describe how comportment and physicality bespeak a character’s history and his or her present actuality more than any acting technique. This talk delves into the production histories of classical neorealist films — Ladri di biciclette, La strada— to expose the negotiations of labor and performance that underpin post-war Italian cinema’s myth of the amateur.  The anecdotal accounts of these negotiations begin to trace a counter-history of neorealism’s production, one that complicates the fantasy of neorealism as spontaneously emerging from the kinesthetics of the ordinary person.  In contrast to the official history, this counter history tells us how the lack of professional training necessitates special precautions and intervention. In fact, the non-professional laborer justified a different – even hyper vigilant – extraction of labor accompanied by a casualization of skilled work itself.  

Karl Schoonover is Associate Professor in Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Brutal Vision: The Neorealist Body in Postwar Italian Cinema (U of Minnesota Press 2012) and co-editor of Global Art Cinema (Oxford UP 2010). His new monograph, co-authored with Rosalind Galt, is Queer Cinema in the World (Duke University Press, 2016).  He has recently published numerous essays on Italian cinema, including on such topics as Giulietta Masina's gestures, Antonioni's sense of pollution, forgotten matter in Dario Argento's horror and on the problems that eco-docs have representing toxic waste. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Studies and the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the Italian Cultural Center, and the Italian Program at the University of St. Thomas.


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