I want my students to open their eyes, think critically and not be afraid to question the official story. Reality isn't always what it seems.

Anna Paparcone

Professor of Italian Studies Anna Paparcone fully embraces her program's belief that students of Italian graduate with a second soul — an Italian soul. Majoring in Italian studies, she explains, is more than mastering the language. Acquiring an Italian soul means connecting with the culture on a deep level — truly understanding the history, politics and social behaviors that shape Italian life.

"Watching my students mature over their four years at Bucknell is one of the most gratifying things about teaching," she says. "Many students begin at the 101 level with little or no knowledge of Italian. By the time they graduate, they're not only speaking fluently, they've also often had the opportunity to study abroad and experience Italian culture for themselves."

Paparcone's research focuses on Italian cinema. Her latest book focuses on Marco Tullio Giordana, an acclaimed filmmaker whose work deals with social, political and economic issues that have shaped Italian culture from the 1930s to the present. Watching Giordana's films sparks class discussions on everything from fascism and terrorism to the student uprisings of the 1960s and the pervasive influence of the Mafia.

Giordana's films have often ignited critical discussions within Italian society. His 1995 release Who Killed Pasolini? explores events surrounding the 1975 murder of openly gay journalist, poet, filmmaker and political activist Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose death was initially blamed on one man, Pino Pelosi. But after Giordana's film presented previously suppressed information that hinted at multiple assassins and a deeper conspiracy, Pelosi recanted his confession, and the case was reopened.

"I'm fascinated by history and its cinematographic representation," explains Paparcone, "by the way films explore the relationship between reality and fiction, and by the interaction between cinema and television." Her interest is evident in her analysis of Giordana's Sanguepazzo, her article on filmmaker Matteo Garrone's Reality and her work on Pierfrancesco Diliberto's La mafia uccide solo d'estate.

Paparcone's latest research focuses also on films directed by women concerning feminist issues in contemporary Italian society. In her upper-level class Corsets and Curses, she presents the work of influential women in Italian cinema, music and literature. She often invites artists to class, in person or via Skype, for open discussions on contemporary feminist thought — mostly in Italian, of course.

"I want my students to open their eyes, think critically and not be afraid to question the official story," says Paparcone. "Reality isn't always what it seems."

Posted Nov. 29, 2017