Millicent Marcus appointed Sarai Ribicoff Professor of Italian Studies

Marcus specializes in Italian culture from the interdisciplinary perspectives of literature, history, and film.
Millicent Marcus
Millicent Marcus

Millicent Marcus, a scholar who specializes in Italian culture from the interdisciplinary perspectives of literature, history, and film, was recently appointed the Sarai Ribicoff Professor of Italian Studies, effective immediately.

She is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in the Department of Italian Studies.

In her work, Marcus advances a multi-media approach to literacy in the 21st century. Bringing a cultural studies approach to her teaching and research, she has broadened literary studies to include the mass media as well as the written text. Her six books reflect the breadth of her intellect and influence. “An Allegory of Form: Literary Self-Consciousness in the Decameron,” (Stanford French and Italian Studies, 1979), established her as a significant thinker in Italian literary studies. Her subsequent books, “Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism” (Princeton, 1986), winner of the Modern Language Association’s Howard Marraro Prize; “Filmmaking by the Book: Italian Cinema and Literary Adaptation” (Johns Hopkins, 1993), which received American Association of Italian Studies’ Presidential Award; “After Fellini: National Cinema in the Postmodern Age” (Johns Hopkins, 2002), winner of the Premio Flaiano; and “Italian Film in the Shadow of Auschwitz” (University of Toronto, 2007), shed new light on the historical, cultural, and political import of Italian film, with particular attention to Italian filmmaking in the context of the Holocaust, a topic on which Marcus is a leading authority.

Marcus is one of few scholars in the English-speaking world who writes on the history of Italian film from the postwar to the post-modern period, and her work — including her books and her dozens of papers in journals ranging from Italica to Romance Languages Annual to Italian Quarterly — has shaped the study of Italian film.

In her forthcoming book, “Italian Film in the Present Tense,” scheduled for publication in March 2023 from the University of Toronto Press, Marcus highlights Italian cinema’s new sources of industrial strength, its re-placement of the Rome-centered studio system with regional film commissions, its contemporary breakthroughs on the aesthetic front, and its vital engagement with the changing economic and socio-political circumstances in 21st-century Italian life through case studies that provide new insight on canonical works and introduce understudied films to new audiences. In addition to this work, she continues to pursue new avenues of inquiry: her recent papers have incorporated research from neuroscience to give new insight to the function of film, and in her teaching, she is developing new courses in environmental humanities.

Marcus is also a sought-after lecturer and commentator. She regularly speaks at film events for the general public, and in recent years has delivered keynote addresses at the University of Tel Aviv, the National Gallery of Art, Rutgers University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California, and other institutions. She is a former Guggenheim Fellow and has held additional awards and fellowships from the Getty Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

A faculty member at Yale since 2005, Marcus chaired her department from 2016 to 2020, and currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies. In that role, she is developing curricular innovations to help prepare the current generation of graduate students for post-degree success. Marcus’s teaching at Yale bridges film and literature; her classes include the popular course “Spotlight on Sicily in Literature and Film,” graduate and undergraduate courses on Italian postwar film, reading courses on “The Decameron” and other texts, and graduate seminars on film and the environment.

She earned a B.A. from Cornell and her Ph.D. from Yale.

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