Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Rossana Capitano

Current Research

Politics and Aesthetics in the Cinema of Luchino Visconti, 1943-1963.

My research provides an innovative approach to the cinematic work of Luchino Visconti – from Ossessione in 1943 to Il Gattopardo in 1963 – through an in-depth historical framing of the cultural and political context in which he worked, through a provocative re-reading of his films informed by recent literature and through a study of his relationship to the film industry and the star system.

A consistent focus of this research project is to scrutinise and disentangle the complex relationship between Visconti’s attention to the aesthetics and politics of his films. The first two chapters of this thesis explore the details of the political and critical context in which Visconti worked and in which his work was received. Using primary materials from multiple archives along with biographies of key players, my thesis maps out the history of the relationship between Visconti, the Italian Communist Party, discourses on cinema and the cultural debates of the time such as neorealism and Americanisation. This historical account provides the context for following chapters that reach outside the traditional thematic concerns in studies on Visconti’s aesthetics to explore contemporary issues such as questions on taste and gender, on the popular aspects of cinema, and on methods that focus more on cinema as an industry. Through scrutinizing scenes, sequences and configurations that criticism has had a habit of passing by, the intention is to challenge the traditional accounts in the literature that variously label Visconti as anti-modern and nostalgic. The analysis draws on recent studies of modernity, consumer culture, aesthetics and the politics of taste. A final section of the research scrutinizes Visconti's politics of casting, looking at how he negotiated his position in relation to film industry and the growing national and international star system.

By developing a new framework based on contemporary theories and through applying methodologies which are different from those of the canonical approaches, this thesis wishes to bring new angles and perspectives on Visconti’s work, putting it in dialogue with more contemporary debates around politics and aesthetics.

Supervisors: Professor Stephen Gundle and Professor Karl Schoonover.


I hold a BA (1st Class) in Sociology and Media Studies from the University of Rome La Sapienza. I followed this with a year of postgraduate research at the Italian Department of UCL, funded with a scholarship I was awarded from La Sapienza.

Over the years I have worked as a researcher for the BFI as well as for a number of independent film projects. I worked on the audio commentary of Visconti's The Leopard and contributed an interview with Terence Stamp for Pasolini's Teorema.

I started my PhD at Warwick in 2017 and have been awarded an EU Chancellor’s Scholarship.


I led seminar groups for the first-year undergraduate module Film History in both the Spring 18/19 and Autumn 19/20 terms, assisting Dr Jon Burrows and Dr Tiago de Luca.

In the Spring 19/20 term I assisted José Arroyo taking seminar groups for the second-year undergraduate module Hollywood Cinema.

In the Autumn 20/21 term I was seminar tutor for Film History, assisting Dr Tiago de Luca and Prof Stephen Gundle.

I am currently seminar tutor for Film Theory, assisting Prof Karl Schoonover.

Conference Papers

‘Visconti and the Cinema group’, Department Research Day, University of Warwick, May 2018.

‘Suso Cecchi D’Amico: the work of the scriptwriters’ workshop’, Study Day on Women in Italian Film Production: Industrial Histories and Archival Sources, University of Warwick, March 2019.

‘Exploring Scriptwriting: Video Interviews with Suso Cecchi D'Amico’, Department Research Day, University of Warwick, May 2019.

'Consumer culture and modernity in Visconti's earlier films', I International Symposium of Cinema and Film Analysis organised by CineArte research group, November 2021.

'Visconti: less auteur, more collaborauteur. Celebrating collaboration in the films of Luchino Visconti of the period 1948-1963', BAFTSS Conference, April 2022.

Other roles

  • Co-founder of the Italian Cinema Group, Department of Film and Television, University of Warwick.
  • Co-organizer of the Film and Television Departmental Research Day, University of Warwick, May 2019.
  • Member of AAIS (American Association for Italian Studies), ASMI (Association for the Study of Modern Italy), BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies).



Lucia looks in wonder at a new scarf

La Terra Trema (1948)

Senso (1954)

Senso (1954)

Rocco e i suoi fratelli (1960)

Rocco e i suoi fratelli (1960)