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Call for papers for the conference "Catholics and cinema in Italy between the 40s and the 70s "

Monday 8 February 2016, by SIGNIS

Milano, Brussels, February 8th 2016 (SIGNIS/Tomaso Subini). The international conference Catholics and cinema in Italy between the 40s and the 70s is the final event of a national research program (PRIN 2012) which has been working at the intersection between the cultural history of Italian cinema and the history of the Church and of the Catholic movement’s relation to modernity.

The main research question of the project has been if, how and when the Church relied on modern mass media (on cinema in particular, due to its predominant position within the media system of the period) in order to negotiate its active role within the complex dynamics of a modern mass society.

The Church’s approach to cinema was polarised: images were considered as something immoral on the one hand and as loaded with religious meaning on the other. The Church’s investment in cinema – which represents the main focus of the project – became institutionalized between the 30s and the beginning of the 40s after decades of isolated and contradictory initiatives and came to a relative conclusion at the end of the 70s.

On the one side, this resulted in the emergence of explicit pornography as a consequence of the breakdown of taboos related to obscenity, which led to the relentless pornographisation of Italian society.

On the other the Church’s renewed and growing investment in media, intended as modern tools to spread the religious message, caused the mediatisation of religion and of its institutions, which led to the establishment of the Vatican Television Centre and, in very recent times, of a new dicastery of the Roman Curia, the Secretariat for communication. With its focus on the period from the 40s to the 70s, the research project – and therefore its final conference – aims to investigate the origins of the historical process that produced such an outcome.

The conference will take place at the Università degli Studi di Milano, from June 8-10, 2016. Please send a 300-word proposal and a short biographical statement to cattoliciecinema@gmail.com by March 31, 2016. (in Italian or English)

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