Cinema and Media Studies
Laurea in Lettere Moderne, University of Genova; Ph.D., University of Oregon
Maurizio S. VianoProfessor of Cinema and Media Studies
Professor of cinema and media studies doing research on Surrealism, the Neo-Baroque, and the cinema of Raúl Ruiz, and teaching film history and European cinema.
My current academic role in Cinema and Media Studies is the end result of a long trek: three years in medical school, and a bachelor's degree in modern literatures at the University of Genova, Italy, after which I got a Ph.D. in comparative literature in the United States. In 1984, I was hired by the Italian Department at Wellesley College where I taught language, literature, and cinema until 2008. My research interests have reflected this trajectory. By writing a book on the poet, filmmaker, and essayist, Pier Paolo Pasolini, I followed the different threads of my intellectual drive. Since my current field is constantly morphing, and the humanities are undergoing an identity crisis, I feel the urge, on the one hand, to investigate cinema's interface with other disciplinary areas such as chemistry and philosophy, and, on the other, to use film studies to question and understand where education is going.
Teaching is undoubtedly the reason why I chose this profession, and that is where virtually all my energies go. I do not have ready-made syllabi for my courses. Each semester brings new groups of students and I fine-tune the syllabus to their needs as I perceive them. As testified by my academic profile thus far, I have some knowledge/interest in several fields, from the humanities through the social sciences and the sciences. While this generalist's attitude might be a drawback in academic publishing, it does come as a boon in teaching, as many students have told me. I teach courses in Italian and French cinema, the cinema of the 1960s, and other vital aspects of the moving image, such as montage/editing. Together with a few other professors, I have pioneered the teaching of Cinema and Media Studies at Wellesley College.
Since I am a generalist, (nearly) everything is an interest, provided that I can use it to make sense of my ever-evolving adventure of being a college professor and human being in this slippery and problematic historical moment. Above, I mentioned the humanities' crisis, and my interest/stake in it. It is, in fact, the very concept of human being that is in crisis. Since these questions lie at the core of my personal and academic life, I use my background in Greek and Latin to read ancient texts and incorporate them in my research and teaching.