Robert A. Rushing
20th- and 21st-century Italian literature; contemporary Italian fiction; Italian film; critical and interpretive theory, especially psychoanalysis; popular culture; comparative literary studies; genre.
Biopolitical Fantasy: There has been surprisingly little work on biopolitics and cinema, that is, the study of how biopolitical interventions are mediated by the media. In this book, I aim to show two ways in which biopolitics and cinema are intertwined. Missing from most existing accounts of biopolitics are the cinematic and the televisual. In other words, the exercise of biopolitical power is often presented as unmediated—my goal in this project is to call attention to the role of the media, especially cinema, in the fantasy that sustains biopolitics. This role is double, or better, moves simultaneously in two directions. On the one hand, the biopolitical disciplining of the subject repeatedly relies on cinema, its genres and its conventions. To be effective as ideology, there must be a certain amount of affect—the melodramatic tears for the daughter who died on graduation night in a drunk driving PSA, or the fear of nicotine as a serial killer in an anti-smoking ad—and cinema is a superb vehicle for delivering emotion. This aspect of the relationship between biopolitical initiatives and film is relatively visible, even if it has not always been fully appreciated. At the same time, however, we can also detect a counter current: film can also draw on those same biopolitical initiatives, or may itself be a biopolitical intervention. Biopolitical Fantasy aims to continue the work I began in Descended from Hercules by exploring the role of cinema and television in mediating state initiatives to control and manage life, health and vitality. In Biopolitical Fantasy, I hope to examine film more broadly (multiple genres over a broad range of historical time, from the silent era to the present), while still remaining focused on the transnational connections between Italy and the English-speaking world.
Descended from Hercules: Biopolitics and the Muscled Male Body on Screen (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016). Winner, American Association for Italian Studies Film/Media book prize.
Resisting Arrest: Detective Fiction and Popular Culture (New York: Other Press, 2007).
Orphan Black: Performance, Gender, Biopolitics. Eds. Andrea Goulet, Robert A. Rushing. (Intellect, forthcoming).
Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics and Style in the 1960s. Eds., Lauren Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, Robert A. Rushing. (Duke University Press, 2013).
Chapters in Books
“Cabiria,” in The Total Art: Italian Cinema from Silent Screen to Digital Image (Bloomsbury, Joseph Luzzi, Ed.), in production for 2017.
“Descended from Hercules: Masculine Anxiety in the Peplum,” in Cycles, Sequels, Spin-offs, Remakes and Reboots: Multiplicities in Film and Television (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016): 41–59.
“Introduction” (with Lauren Goodlad and Lilya Kaganovsky) in Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics and Style in the 1960s. Eds., Lauren Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, Robert A. Rushing. (Duke University Press, 2013).
“‘It Will Shock You How Much This Never Happened: Antonioni and Mad Men” in Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics and Style in the 1960s. Eds., Lauren Goodlad, Lilya Kaganovsky, Robert A. Rushing. (Duke University Press, 2013).
“Calvino and Readerly Expectations: Identification and Fantasy in the Cosmicomics” in Approaches to Teaching Italo Calvino. Franco Ricci, Ed. (MLA, 2013).
“Trains, Planes, Automobiles, Bicycles, Spaceships and an Elephant: Images of Movement in the commedia all’italiana,” California Italian Studies 7.1 (2018), 1-24.
“Contemporary Italian Science Fiction Film: The Future of Italy,” Luci e ombre: trimestrale di informazione cinematografica e culturale 4.2 (2016): 32–46.
“The Weight of History: Immunity and the Nation in Italian Science-Fiction Cinema” Science Fiction Studies 42 (2015): 339-52.
“Nostalgia | Utopia | Spaghetti: Utopian and anti-nostalgic time in the Italian Western,” Studies in European Cinema 11.2 (2014): 79-91.
“Skin Flicks: Haptic Ideology in the Peplum Film,” Cinema Journal. Accepted for publication (forthcoming Fall 2016).
“Sirens without Us: The Future after Humanity,” California Italian Studies 2.1 (2011).
“Blink: The Material Real in Caché, Mulholland Dr. and Dr. Who,” PostScript 29.3 (2010): 21-34.
“De Sica’s The Children Are Watching Us: Neorealist Cinema and Sexual Difference,” Studies in European Cinema 6.2-3 (2009): 97-112.
“Gentlemen Prefer Hercules: Desire | Identification | Beefcake” in Camera Obscura 23.2, 69 (2008): 158-91.
“‘Tutto è zuppa!’ Making the Superego Enjoy in Calvino’s Il cavaliere inesistente” in Romanic Review101.3 (2010): 561-77.
“Italo Svevo and Charlie Chaplin: Dramatic Irony and the Psychoanalytic Stance” in American Imago 63.2 (2006): 183-200.
“What We Desire, We Shall Never Have: Calvino, Žižek, Ovid” in Comparative Literature 58.1 (2006): 44-58.
“Traveling Detectives: The ‘Logic of Arrest’ in Verne and Christie,” in Yale French Studies 108 (2005): 89-101.
Articles on the television show Monk, the film 300, and Umberto Eco, Calvino, Gadda, Foscolo, Hitchcock and Antonioni, and Baricco.
• Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2018
• LAS Dean’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2018
• Winner, American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS) Film/Media book prize, 2016
• Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) Faculty Fellow, 2013-2014
• Humanities Released Time (HRT) Fellowship, 2013-2014 (Declined)
• Nomination: Gradiva Award: Best Theory Book (Resisting Arrest), 2008, by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis
• Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) Faculty Fellow, 2003-2004
On leave Spring 2018, by appointment only