Laura Di Bianco

Laura Di Bianco

Assistant Professor of Italian Studies
Affiliated Faculty with the Center for Advanced Media Studies
Program for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality
Environmental Science and Studies Program

PhD, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Program: Italian
lauradibianco@jhu.edu
Gilman 492
W: 4-5pm Th: 3-4pm
410-516-2022

Laura Di Bianco is an Assistant Professor of Italian Studies, whose research and teaching lie at the intersection of twenty-first century Italian cinema, literature, and culture; Women’s and Gender Studies; and Environmental Humanities.

She is Director of Undergraduate Studies in Italian, affiliated faculty member at the Center for Advanced Media Studies (CAMS), and collaborator with the Programs for the Study of Women’s Gender and Sexuality (WGS), and Environmental Science and Studies. Her research on Italian cinema and ecology has been supported by the Lauro De Bosis Fellowship at Harvard University, the Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award, and the Bogliasco Fellowship in the Humanities (2020).

After earning her laurea at the University of “Roma Tre” in Film History and Criticism, Professor Di Bianco worked at Italy’s national film school, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, as an iconographic researcher and curator for photo exhibitions and publications, and as production coordinator for numerous film projects including the documentary film series Ritratti italiani – Archivio della memoria (Italian Portraits: Memory Archive) and Mestieri del cinema (Cinema Ars and Craft).

Prior to joining the Hopkins faculty in 2016, she taught classes in film, Italian literature, and language at different institutions such as CUNY Hunter College, Fordham University, and The New School.  

She is co-editor for Modern Language Notes: Italian Issue and has collaborated with the online journal Gender| Sexuality| Italy.

Her first monograph—Wandering Women. Urban Ecologies of Italian Feminist Filmmaking (Indiana University Press, forthcoming, December 2022) explores the work of contemporary Italian women directors from feminist and ecological perspectives. Mostly relegated to the margins of the cultural scene, and themselves concerned with women’s marginality, the compelling films her book sheds light on tell stories of displacement and liminality that unfold through the act of walking in the city. The unusual emptiness of the cities these nomadic female protagonists traverse highlights the absence of, and their wish for, life-sustaining communities. While articulating a claim for belonging, and asserting cinematic and social agency, women’s urban filmmaking brings into view landscapes of the ecological crises, in which urban decay and the erasure of nature intersects with human alienation. This is admittedly a minor cinema, yet it is also a powerful movement of resistance against the dominant male narratives about the world we inhabit.  Based on interviews of the directors Dr. Di Bianco conducted, Wandering Women deepens the understanding of contemporary Italian cinema, while enriching the field of feminist ecocritical literature.

Professor Di Bianco is currently developing a second book project: Crumbling Beauty. Italian Cinema in the Anthropocene. This study asks several questions: Can films teach us to protect fragile nature-cultural beauties? How does an environmentally conscious cinema, transform our perception of the world we inhabit and its unpredictable changes? Can films disrupt binary thinking such as human/nature, nature/culture, and mind/matter? Adopting material ecocritical and post-human perspectives, and bringing film criticism into dialogue with environmental and cultural history, Crumbing Beauty traces a genealogy of Italian eco-cinema from the silent era to the present. Engaging with the classics, the forgotten, and the emergent, this study sheds light upon a contemporary cinema that addresses Italy's environmental conflicts, while also retrieving prophetic films from the archive that in their time, when the Anthropocene had not yet been named, exposed social inequalities and abusive environmental practices, but also imagined the world and told stories from non-anthropocentric perspectives. Crumbling Beauty explores how film can help us grapple with global ecological crises and foster a culture of care and change.

At Hopkins, Professor Di Bianco teaches surveys of Italian cinema, classes about women’s filmmaking, courses on modern and contemporary Italian literature with a focus on the interplay of humans, non-humans, and the environment, and freshmen seminars like Great Books.

Committed to expanding the body of Italian films that can be experienced by non-Italian speakers, she directs translation projects with graduate and undergraduate students. She completed English subtitles for films by pioneer silent film director Elvira Notari that were presented at the 2018 edition of Festival del Cinema Ritrovato, in Bologna, has started new collaborative translation projects for other silent films.

Upper-level Undergraduate Courses

Climate Change Narratives: Human and Non-human Transformative Storytelling (Spring 2022)

Elena Ferrante and Her Brilliant Friends: Contemporary Italian Women Writers  (Spring 2022)

Black Italy: Colonial and Post-colonial Narratives (Fall 2021)

Ecocinema: Framing Italy’s Environmental Crises (Fall 2019)

Italian Journeys: Environmental Literature (Fall 2018)

Food for Thought: Identity, Politics, and Gastronomy (Summer 2018, Hopkins Bologna)

Italian Journeys: Landscapes of Memories and Desires (Fall 2016)

Italian Ecocinema: Inconvenient Truths from 1945 to 2015 (Spring 2017, Spring 2019)

Italian Cinema: The Classics, the Forgotten, and the Emergent (Fall 2017, Fall 2018)

Vagabonds and Ramblers: Space & Place in Women’s Cinema (Spring 2018)

 

Graduate Seminars

Nomadic Narratives: Urban Wandering in Women’s Cinema and Literature (Fall 2019)

First-Person Cinema: Ethics and Aesthetics of Italian Documentary Filmmaking (Fall 2017)

Dissolving Margins: Space and Female Subjectivity in the Work of Elena Ferrante (Spring 2017)

Flânerie and Female Authorship in Contemporary Italian Cinema (Fall 2016)

Crumbling Beauty: Environmental Crisis in Italian Literature and Cinema (Spring 2018)

 

Selection of Classes Taught at Other Institutions

Screening Contemporary Italian Literature (Fall 2015)

Food and the Construction of Italian Identity (Fall 2015)

Feast Your Eyes. Food and Film (Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015)

Modern Italian Novel (Spring 2015)

Italian Literature from the Middle Ages to the 16th Century (Fall 2014)

Practical Film Analysis: Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (Spring 2012)

Female Gaze over the City: A Comparative Study of Women Filmmakers (Fall 2012)

Post-War Italian Women Writers (Spring 2010)

Books

Wandering Women: Urban Ecologies of Italian Feminist Filmming. (Indiana University Press, Forthcoming 2022).

Crumbling Beauty: Italian Cinema in the Anthropocene (In progress)

 

Essays and Book Chapters

“Women’s Archiveology. Lost Mother Found Footage,” in Radical Equalities. Global Feminist Filmmaking, edited by Bernadette Wegenstein and Lauren Mushro. (Forthcoming, Vernon Press, 2022).

“Ecocinema Ars et Praxis: Alice Rohrwacher’s Lazzaro felice. (Italianist Film Volume 40, August 2020).

“Gomorrah: Imma’s Dream of Domination,” The Italianist, 36:2 (2016), 312–317.

“Francesca Comencini: Women Outside the Polis,” in Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva (eds.), Italian Political Cinema: Public Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film (New York: Peter Lang, 2016) 172-182.

“Francesca Comencini: Le città delle donne,” in Lucia Cardone, Cristina Jandelli and Chiara Tognolotti (eds.), Le donne del cinema italiano: una mappa in divenire (Barcelona: Quaderni del CSCI, 2015).

“Naples’ City Views, Flat Space and Suspension of Time: Francesca Comencini’s Adaptation of Valeria Parella’s Lo spazio bianco,” Luci e Ombre, January 2014.

“Women in the Deserted City: Urban Space in Marina Spada's Cinema,” in Maristella Cantini (ed.), Italian Women Filmmakers and the Gendered Screen (New York and London: Palgrave, 2013).

“L’immagine salvifica dell'immigrato. Into paradiso di Paola Randi e Mozzarella stories di Edoardo De Angelis,” in  Vito Zagarrio (ed.), Italy A\R Migrazioni nel\del Cinema Italiano (Barcelona: Quaderni del CSCI n. 8, 2012).