Passport to the dream factory: Hollywood and the exotic allure of female Italian ethnicity

Palmieri, Antonella (2012) Passport to the dream factory: Hollywood and the exotic allure of female Italian ethnicity. PhD thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


‘Passport to the Dream Factory: Hollywood and the Exotic Allure of Female Italian Ethnicity’ is a
feminist-inflected star study which explores articulations of ethnic femininity within Hollywood
cinema. It does this via a case study approach, focussing on Italian female stars whose careers took
them to the US in successive decades and who each illustrate different aspects of the perception of
Italian femininity in American society. Organised chronologically, the case studies explore the work
of four Italian stars – Isa Miranda in the late 1930s, Alida Valli in the late 1940s, Anna Magnani in
the mid-1950s and Virna Lisi in the mid-1960s. Taken together, these case studies demonstrate the
complex ways in which Hollywood made use of Italian female stars, adapting their images and in
some cases remodelling them for the purposes of the period in question. I use the work of Richard
Dyer in White (1997) and Stars (1998) and Diane Negra in Off-White Hollywood: American Culture
and Ethnic Female Stardom (2001), drawing on a number of scholarly disciplines and methods,
including star studies, feminist film studies, cultural studies, and critical race and whiteness studies.
The thesis relates the narrativisations of female Italianness in popular American cinema to the
expression and negotiation of gender and ethnic identities in American culture at a given time in
American history and argues that Hollywood makes ideological use of ethnic femininity in a
manner which responds to the particular historical context. I conclude that Hollywood’s
construction of the personae of the Italian film stars I discuss was ideologically fraught. Located
within specific historical, political and social conditions and circumstances in which they acquired
significance and meaning, the American personae of Miranda, Valli, Magnani and Lisi articulated
cultural fantasies around female Italianness that were supportive of patriarchal hegemony and
whiteness as the norm.

Keywords:Film stars, Italianness, Whiteness, Gender
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:16849
Deposited On:01 Mar 2015 17:15

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