Screening Religions in Italy: Contemporary Italian Cinema and Television in the Post-secular Public Sphere

By Clodagh J. Brook

© 2019

Religion has had been foundational in shaping Italy. Home to the Vatican State, the Italian peninsula is the religious centre for one billion Catholics globally. It is also increasingly home to those of other faiths, especially Islam. Italy’s development as a contemporary post-secular and multi-religious society is fraught and fascinating.

The recent return of religious discourse from the margins of Western society to a central position is a sign of what German philosopher, Jürgen Habermas, has defined as the post-secular condition. Habermas and others have questioned what most people in the West had, up to a few years ago, taken for granted: the unstoppable forward march of secularization and the subsequent marginalization of religion. Instead, one of the greatest global fault-lines in the contemporary world – the divide between absolutist extremist Islamic faith and liberal, but Christian-inflected, secular values – has religious identity at its core.

The first book-length study to examine religion in contemporary Italian cinema and television fiction, Screening Religions in Italy identifies two key issues: how Italian filmmaking constructs the continuing position of religion in the public sphere and why religion persists on Italian screens. It spans genres such as horror, comedy, hagiopics, and TV fiction, and explores both commercial and art-house filmmaking. It treats films and television series that range from Moretti’s Habemus Papam to Sorrentino’s The Young Pope.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.5in x 0.6in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP005085

  • PUBLISHED NOV 2019

    From: $41.25

    Regular Price: $55.00

    ISBN 9781487503475
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2019

    From: $41.25

    Regular Price: $55.00

Quick Overview

This is the first book-length study to address the question of religion in contemporary Italian cinema and television. It questions why religion persists on Italian screens and how this reflects and constructs Italy’s emerging post-secularity.

Screening Religions in Italy: Contemporary Italian Cinema and Television in the Post-secular Public Sphere

By Clodagh J. Brook

© 2019

Religion has had been foundational in shaping Italy. Home to the Vatican State, the Italian peninsula is the religious centre for one billion Catholics globally. It is also increasingly home to those of other faiths, especially Islam. Italy’s development as a contemporary post-secular and multi-religious society is fraught and fascinating.

The recent return of religious discourse from the margins of Western society to a central position is a sign of what German philosopher, Jürgen Habermas, has defined as the post-secular condition. Habermas and others have questioned what most people in the West had, up to a few years ago, taken for granted: the unstoppable forward march of secularization and the subsequent marginalization of religion. Instead, one of the greatest global fault-lines in the contemporary world – the divide between absolutist extremist Islamic faith and liberal, but Christian-inflected, secular values – has religious identity at its core.

The first book-length study to examine religion in contemporary Italian cinema and television fiction, Screening Religions in Italy identifies two key issues: how Italian filmmaking constructs the continuing position of religion in the public sphere and why religion persists on Italian screens. It spans genres such as horror, comedy, hagiopics, and TV fiction, and explores both commercial and art-house filmmaking. It treats films and television series that range from Moretti’s Habemus Papam to Sorrentino’s The Young Pope.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.5in x 0.6in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "In a very readable, long overdue, and engrossing study, Clodagh J. Brook sets herself a bold and arduous task, involving a massive and intellectual confrontation with ‘Italy’s religion in the new millennium,’ not as the final word on Roman Catholicism, but as a symptomatic flashpoint to explore the ‘vast spectacle and power of the international Catholic faith’ tied to uncertain questions of national identity and belief."


    Marcia Landy, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of French and Italian, University of Pittsburgh
  • Author Information

    Clodagh J. Brook is associate professor and Head of Italian at Trinity College, Dublin.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Italy, Secularisation and the Post-secular

    1. The Space for Religious Filmmaking: Policy and Infrastructures
    2. The Persistence of Religion Onscreen: Icons, Rituals, and the Arts
    3. Countercultural Catholic Values in the Public Sphere
    4. Protest in the Public Sphere: The Shifting Line between Religious and Secular Space
    5. Voicing the Religious Other in the Public Sphere: Assimilation, Horror, Resolution

    Conclusion: Seeing is Believing: Italian Filmmaking Looks Post-secularism in the Eye

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