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Ilaria Puliti

Current research

Rural modernities: the politics and aesthetics of extra-urban experiences in Italian cinema.

My project investigates the configurations of Italian modernity in rural films such as Lazzaro felice/Happy as Lazzaro (Rohrwacher, 2018) from the postwar period to the 21st-century.

In cinema and visual arts, the mise-en-scène of modernity has conventionally been urban and Italian neorealism has distinctively featured this longstanding association with the metropolitan experience. In the last ten years, indie films with rural settings exploring social-realist dramas have been gradually attracting international success and inspired a renewed critical attention in the scholarship. Considering how this new wave of movies is shaping the Italian context, my project investigates intersections between Italian cinema’s treatment of rural spaces and the impact of modernization in extra-urban environments, hence the working title of the thesis. My aim is to research films that escape the conventional urban-rural divide according to which the city stands as a hub for progress and modernization, and the countryside is regarded as the milieu of tradition and heritage. Drawing upon an emerging interdisciplinary field of research that intends to reassess non-urban portrayals across diverse media, the objective of the project is twofold. Firstly, I will read against the grain some key neorealist and post-neorealist films to uncover aesthetics and narrative tropes of the rural, while identifying how critics have read lands, landscapes and their relationship with urban spaces. This research will then enable me to frame new approaches to the countryside in 21st-century Italian cinema, how this defines a new version of modernity that displaces its urban focus on to rural realms while raising questions of social displacement, gentrification and migrant labour.

My research project is supervised by Professor Stephen Gundle and Dr Karl Schoonover and funded by the Wolfson Foundation.


I am a PhD candidate at Warwick since October 2019. I hold an MA (with distinction) in Film and Television Studies (University of Warwick), an MA (with distinction) in Teaching Italian to Foreigners (University of Urbino, IT), an MA in Intercultural Business Communication (University of Urbino) and a BA in Asian Languages and Cultures (University of Rome 'La Sapienza').

From 2015 to 2016, I have collaborated with the University of Urbino in several projects to teach Italian as a Second and Foreign language. I have been a tutor of Italian language and culture at the Department of Modern Languages (University of Leicester) from May 2016 to September 2019, as well as a seminar tutor for BA and MA students in Modern languages and translation (UoL).

  • ‘Spazi rivendicati. L'adolescenza femminile nel cinema di Alice Rohrwacher’, Cineforum n. 590 (2019), pp. 68-78.
  • ‘Combining Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication in a Transnational E-language Learning Environment: An Analysis of Teachers’ Perspective’, Italian Studies in Southern Africa 32:2 (2019), pp. 245-274.
Conference papers
  • 'Rural modernities: the politics and aesthetics of extra-urban experiences in Italian cinema', Department Research Day, University of Warwick, 13 May 2020.
  • 'Finding Alternative Girlhood. Adolescenza e non-conformità di genere nel cinema di Alice Rohrwacher e Céline Sciamma', Contemporary Women's Cinema and Media: Aesthetics, Identities and Imaginaries, Roma Tre University, 20-22 November 2019.
  • ‘Digital Learning and Cultural Awareness’, American Association of Italian Studies, Sorrento (Italy), 14 June 2018.