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Distributed for Intellect Ltd

Italian TV Drama and Beyond

Stories from the Soil, Stories from the Sea

Translated by Jennifer Radice

Since its inception in the mid-1950s, the television drama has emerged as the dominant medium of contemporary storytelling in Italian society, with a steadily increasing supply of locally produced domestic dramas offering up competing versions of Italian identity. Informed by the nation’s rich historical and cultural heritage—as well as a string of notable foreign imports—the narratives discussed here offer much insight into Italian society and highlight the wide array of television programming available outside of Britain and the United States.

264 pages | 6 halftones | 7 x 9 | © 2012

Media Studies

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“Some say that the age of television is over. If that is so, then the medium has found its ideal historian and critic in Milly Buonanno.”

Television and New Media

“In this wonderful book, Milly Buonanno has achieved the difficult mandate that a study of the medium must also be a study of a whole way of life. Italian TV Drama and Beyond shows that television is just as tied up in Italy’s long legacy of style and creativity as its cuisine, fashion, and landscape.”

John Durham Peters, University of Iowa

“In this scintillating and original study of Italian television drama, Milly Buonanno develops a brilliant and compelling account of a relatively unknown body of televisual texts that will be required reading for scholars and students of television and the mass media everywhere.”

Stephen Grundle, University of Warwick

“Milly Buonanno has long been concerned with the development of European storytelling on the small screen. Here, she brings considerable scholarship, sophistication, and sympathy to a highly compelling and warmly recommended study of national and non-national fiction in Italy since the 1950s.”

Albert Moran, Griffith University, author of TV Format Mogul

Table of Contents

    Invisible Italian TV drama
    The structure of the book

1. Building the Nation: The Origins of Italian TV Drama
The words to say it
    The domestic stage
    Literary adaptation
    Electronic library
    The implication approach
    The foreign sources of a national genre
    Literature and history
2. The Cinematic Turn and the Americanization of the Television Landscape
Keeping the cinema at bay
    The cinematic turn
    The rise of the miniseries
    The flood of American imports
    The Italian response to Dallas
3. The Political Career of a Popular Fiction: La Piovra (The Octopus: The Power of the Mafia)
A phenomenon of popularity
    Bond and beyond
    An intertextual octopus
    The origins of La Piovra’s success
    Mafia Plots
    Social melodrama
    The fascination of the loser
    Italian-style serial
    Television event
    The Mafia and politics
4. A Place in the Sun: The First Italian Soap Opera
Escape from fiction
    Turning point
    The close encounter of local and global
    An Italian sense of place
    A seminal story
5. Mimetic Heroes and Ironic Leaders: The Genesis and Evolution of Italian Police Drama
The season of the detective story
    Stories from the sea
    Stories from the soil
    The funny detective
    The hero is ’one of us’
    A ’heritage’ trilogy
    The girls with a gun
    Women on top
    The merging of sailor’s and peasant’s storytelling
6. In the Footsteps of La Piovra: Twenty years of Mafia stories in Italian TV drama
Mob stories are always hot: a tour d’horizon
    A 20-year cycle
    The centrality of Cosa Nostra
    Facts burst into fiction
    Heroes and villains
    A male-dominated genre and its exceptions
    The Mafia is everywhere
7. Life Stories: A Heroic Enclave and the Rise of the Religious Biopic
The rebirth of the biopic
    Anti-heroic society
    The biography genre and the shifting definition of fame
    A heroic enclave
    The Bible Project
    A plural catholicism
8. The Re-enactment of the Past and the Politics of Memory and Identity in Contemporary Drama
The temporal turn
    Past and present
    Television as historian
    Divided, denied, shared memory
    ’We are not like them’

    The convocative power of the mainstream drama
    Visibility for what?

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