Title: Radical Frontiers in the Spagetti Western - Lecture
Brief Description: Monday 16 April 2012, Hodges Auditorium, 12:20
Go West, Comrade!
Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western
Austin Fisher, The University of Bedfordshire, UK
Though the Italian (or “Spaghetti”) Westerns of the 1960s continue to undergo a mainstream renaissance, their complex and intimate relationship with the troubled politics of the era is often overlooked. In this talk, Austin Fisher examines how and why this genre became co-opted for the dissemination of Far-Left political invective as the ferments surrounding Vietnam and the international student movement shook global politics. Repeatedly, between the years 1966 and 1970, directors such as Damiano Damiani, Sergio Sollima, Sergio Corbucci and Giulio Petroni—as well as famed Marxist screenwriter Franco Solinas—identified in the Western’s established tropes new resonance for Italy’s nascent radical groups and militant constituencies.
That a format lifted from US popular culture provided the forum for such outlooks speaks volumes about the transitional nature of Italian identities in the post-war era. By locating these radicalised films as intriguing historical documents, Fisher illustrates a process of cultural blending and transnational appropriation, through which Americana offered endlessly manipulable building blocks for the negotiation of a contemporary sensibility.
Austin Fisher is Lecturer in Media Arts at the University of Bedfordshire and the author of Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema. He holds a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London and his main area of expertise concerns popular Italian cinema\'s engagement with the countercultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s. His research in this field appears in The Italianist, The Blackwell Companion to Italian Cinema and Scope.
Austin’s continuing research extends his analysis of critiques dealing with state corruption, ideology and political violence to incorporate an examination of the Italian police thriller (or poliziesco) genre of the 1970s. He is also currently working on a history of exploitation cinema.
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