Spring 2015 Philosophy of Italian Culture Study Questions

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JAN 15

1. How would you characterize the forces promoting and eroding Italian unity?

2. What are some of the main characteristics of Silvio Berlusconi's political career and his politics?

3. What are some of the strengths or sources of resilience in Italian culture today?

JAN 20

  1. Take a note of the the information/aspects that you do not understand or that you simply would like to comment on and bring your questions and observations into class.
  2. Make a list of the aspects of "bad" Italy and "good" Italy.
  3. Within each segment of the film, identify the causes and explanations given for each aspect.
  4. In what ways does the film confirm or disconfirm your ideas of Italy? What, in particular, was surprising in the film? What did you most appreciate?
  5. What is the function of truth, honesty, creativity, community, law, and work in Italy's positive and negative conditions.

JAN 22

1. What is Marx and Engel's basic critique of capitalism and theory of culture (base and superstructure)?

2. How does Storey define popular culture? Why is it difficult to do?

3. Identify several types of anthropological theory. What are some of the factors that distinquish one theory from another?


JAN 27

1. How do R&B argue that culture is essential? Why can't genetics and environment explain human behavior, according to them?

2. What different forms can honor take? What is significant about the forms of honor in relation to Italian culture?

3. Is honor still a relevant cultural concept?

JAN 29

FEB 3

FEB 5

1. What are the major components of Marx concept of historical materialism and in what ways does it lend itself to a critical study of culture? 2. What were the major difference in Marx and Gramsci's view of dominance and culture? 3. Describe the major characteristics of the Franckfurt school and British culutral studies, in what ways are these traditions different?

FEB 10

1. How does "The Working Class Goes to Heaven" exemplify both the Marxist view of class consciousness and the Gramscian view of hegemony?

2. How does the movie reflect a specific view (on the part of the director) of the liberating possibilities of Marxism in mid-70's Italy? Connect your thinking to the previous two historical moments in which revolutionary politics seemed realistic in Italy (Turin the teens and the Partisans)

FEB 12

1. What does it mean to give a "thick description" of events and processes in a culture?

FEB 17

FEB 19

FEB 24

1. Why is the Unification still a controversial matter for among Italians? 2. In what major ways have the imperative of forming a national identity been addressed by the country's various political formations? 3. What are some major difference and similarities that divide and unite Italy today?

FEB 26

MAR 3

MAR 5

  1. In what ways would Berlusconi's attitudes towards the judiciary and understanding of majoritarianism constitute a false view of liberalism?
  2. What role has the church played in forming the Italians' mentality? In what ways does the criticisms of Salveminni support Viroli's view?
  3. What weaknesses of the political party system were the presuppositions of servitude, according to Viroli? Who would in particular have failed in their duties?

MAR 17

1. How does Benvenuti al Sud enact stereotypes of North and South? In what ways is this popular film trying to alter or make a statement about the North South problem? Is it effective?

MAR 19

1. Consider both Gilmour's comments on unification and Parks travel journalism when trying to describe the North South divide at the level of social customs. How does the train itself play a role in representing both unity and disunity in Italy?

MAR 24

1. Use Rocco and His Brothers, to offer an analysis of the North/South divide and cultures of honor. How does the main tragic action of the film grow out of these problems and structures?

MAR 26

1. Use Gilmore's "The Shame of Dishonor" as a theoretical resource in describing Mediterranean "honor culuture".

2. How does Bettiga-Boukerbout's analysis of the Rocco Code support the general thesis that Italian law reflects an honor culture that does not equally respect women?

MAR 31

1. How does Muraro use story and the history of women's scholarship to locate Italian "difference feminism"?

2. What is feminicido?

APR 2

APR 7

1. Identify the various ways of defining culture and the difficulties with each.

2. What is the Frankfort School's analysis of culture? Assess.

3. What problem in cultural studies does Bennett think the "turn to Gramsci" solves?

APR 9

1. How does Gramsci theorize the place of the intellectual in the "national" and the "popular" dimensions of culture? Why is the intellectual so important in Gramsci's view of social change and in relationship to hegemony?

APR 14

1. Analyze The Day of the Owl as both a work of popular culture and as a way of representing the Mafia.

APR 16

1. What sort of writing is Saviano producing with Gommorah? How does he use each of the constructed narrative to make a particular point about Neapolitan culture?

APR 21

APR 23

APR 28

APR 30

MAY 5

MAY 7