Prof. Rigoletto publishes an essay on Italian film star Anna Magnani and postwar populism
Sergio Rigoletto, Associate Professor of Italian and Cinema Studies, has published an essay entitled “(Un)dressing authenticity: Neorealist stardom and Anna Magnani in the postwar era (1945-48)” in the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media (Vol.6 Number 8, 2018; pp. 389-403). The essay explores Magnani’s significance as a populist icon during the postwar years and unpacks some of the meanings behind a notion that has been frequently associated with Magnani: authenticity. Focusing on the study of Magnani’s costumes in Rome Open City (Rossellini 1945) and in a number of popular comedies made between 1945 and 1948, alongside the clothes worn by the actress in her off-screen appearances, the essay reveals some of the crucial ways in which Magnani’s clothing staged several tensions which were particularlu useful to the institutional discourse of Neorealism to negotiate the transition from fascism to postwar democracy (e.g. audience recognition vs. misrecognition; historical truth vs. ideological mystification; individuality vs. collectivism). The essay proposes a way of thinking about the notion of authenticity that may allow us to move beyond a “reflectionist” framework, in which the authentic is simply a synonym for what looks real or original. Instead, through an analysis of Magnani’s star narrative and the function of clothing within this narrative, Rigoletto argues that authenticity reveals itself as a performative effect, unfolding through the opening of a space of absence in which the experience of the “inauthentic” is repeatedly confronted. Under these terms, the essay demonstrates that the category of authenticity functions as an effect of the inauthentic, rather than simply as its opposite.