Staff in the Department of Italian
Mr Joseph North
I am researching Italian silent serial films, and am part of the Visual and Performance research group. I am currently completing an MA by Research into the Za La Mort silent serials of Emilio Ghione.
My research centres on the development of the apaches (Parisian criminals) in Italian serial films of the silent era, including Del Colle's Raffles and Ghione's Za La Mort. I will study depictions of the apaches in newspapers, paintings, fiction and early criminology (Lombroso) in Italy and Europe. Theoretical perspectives derive from studies of French serial films, research into the apache films' audiences and study of the apache in popular culture will be used to increase understanding of Italian serial films and their representations of the uncertainties of modernity, urbanity and Italian society as it reacted to crime, war and fascism.
My thesis will also gather the primary sources for some 'lost' serials that have yet to be investigated. The study will systematically study film distribution and exhibition in selected cities in order to test theories of silent cinema spectatorship and create new theoretical models for appreciating silent cinema. The thesis will argue that the Italian serial developed from the 'Cinema of Attractions,' producing a cinema with an emphasis on uncertainty, action and repetitive structures rather than the 'Classic' Hollywood emphasis on certainty, plot and linear development.
The spectators at these film showings were more participatory than modern audiences, as they were used to street entertainers, variety theatres and circuses. My research will attempt to re-insert the spectator into our understanding of these films, and will consider the links between pre-cinematic forms of popular entertainment and the serial films.
I am the Year Abroad Assistant for the Italian department.
I occasionally present my research and show films from my collection to the general public at the Durham Clayport Library Silent Film Club. If you would like to attend these free film showings, please contact the library.
- Criminality and criminology in Europe
- Fascist Cinema
- Italian Horror Movies
- Popular literature and entertainment in the early 20th century
- Silent Film in Europe
- The economics of Italian cinema
- The fumetto and Italian film Divismo and the star system Spectatorship