Italy in Early American Cinema: Race, Landscape, and the Picturesque

Special Guest Presentation

Giorgio Bertellini, University of MichiganThe picturesque, once associated with landscape painting in northern Europe, came to symbolize Southern Europe through comforting views of distant landscapes and exotic characters.  Giorgio Bertellini’s presentation shows how this pre-photographic aesthetic was transferred from 19th-century American painters, and eventually photographers, to early 20th-century American filmmakers, particularly with regard to their representations of Southern Italians—the picturesque’s original subjects. His analysis of early films pays close attention to how landscape representations that were related to narrative settings and filmmaking locations conveyed distinct ideas about racial difference and national destiny.