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Title: State of distrust : interpreting 1970s Italy through the seriality of news media and the poliziottesco
Author: Olesen, Giulio
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 6743
Awarding Body: Bournemouth University
Current Institution: Bournemouth University
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis explores the relationship between films, news media, and the perception of social reality. It analyses 1970s Italian police thrillers, the so-called poliziottesco, and argues that these films can be considered historical documents. Building on on-going debates on the poliziottesco (Bondanella, 2009; O'Leary, 2011; Marlow-Mann, 2013; Fisher 2014), this thesis argues that news media discourses on state, political, and criminal violence in the early 1970s are pivotal to interpret the films as part of a public debate on the meaning of such violence. Accordingly, this thesis takes the poliziottesco to investigate the impact of specific representations of the police, the judiciary, and the secret service on the negotiation of the blame for state inefficiency against political and criminal violence. Focusing specifically on the "conspiracy mode" (Fisher 2014, p. 173) of the poliziottesco, which centres on state-driven conspiracies, this thesis argues that repetitions and innovations in the representation of Italian civic institutions can be linked to the evolution of news media discourses on the so-called strategia della tensione (strategy of tension). Thus, Chapter 1 builds on scholarly notions of press (Elliot, 1981), television (Wagstaff, 1992; Mittell, 2004; Kelletter, 2017), and comic book seriality (Denson, 2011) to address a sum of individual films as a serial text and identify the discursive practices that defined the context of production and reception. It also sets the methodology of this thesis, which relies on film and newspaper analysis. Newspapers are analysed with the support of Corpus-Assisted Discourse Analysis (Baker et al. 2008), which consists in the alternation of qualitative and quantitative analysis of front-page articles from two newspapers, Corriere della Sera and l'Unità. The use of corpora in film analysis for the identification of common representational patterns is an original contribution to knowledge of this thesis. The concepts of remediation (Bolter and Gruisin, 2000) and intermediality (Rajewsky, 2005) are mobilised to evaluate the merging of fiction and non-fiction in the films through the use of news media. Chapter 2 links the poliziottesco to the more politically committed cinema di consumo impegnato. It identifies how other forms of Italian cinema affected the representation of contemporary socio-political conflicts in the poliziottesco and its use of news media as devices. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 dig into the representation of specific civic institutions exploring the construction of the media figure of the rank-and-file policeman, the commissario (police inspector), and the judge in the poliziottesco and news media. The chapters argue that civic institutions in the films embodied conflicting conceptualisations of law and order arising from news media discourses. Finally, the thesis concludes by arguing for interpreting the poliziottesco as a product directed at mass audiences and sharing the same emotional triggers of mainstream news media in the attempt to reconcile different political constituencies into the defence of the democratic order.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available