Professor Alan O'Leary

Professor of Film and Cultural Studies

+44 (0)113 343 3633

Summary: Cinema and history; Italian cultural studies; Popular cinema; Terrorism in Italian cinema; The trivial

Location: Michael Sadler 1.48



cinema and history, popular cinema, cultural studies, terrorism and cinema, Italian cinema


I teach cinema, history, cultural studies and translation at undergraduate and graduate levels, and received a Faculty of Arts Teaching Prize for designing a film studies pathway through the Italian degree.

Research supervision

My student Rachel Johnson is working on 'Ethical Commitment and Ideology: A Psychoanalysis of Italian Festival Cinema'.

I welcome enquiries to supervise research on cinema (especially Italian cinema) and aspects of popular culture and media. 



Fenomenologia del cinepanettone (Soveria Manelli: Rubbettino, 2013)

The first study of the critically despised Italian Christmas film. Contains a variety of approaches to the genre, including an analysis in terms of the 'carnivalesque', the results of questionnaire about its consumption, and a long collage of interviews with fans, critics and filmmakers.

Tragedia all'italiana: Cinema e terrorismo tra Moro e memoria (Tissi: Angelica Editore, 2007)

Tragedia all'italiana: Italian Cinema and Italian Terrorisms 1970-2010 (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2011)

Tragedia all'italiana studies the representation of the terrorisms of the 1970s in Italian cinema. Examining a wide range of genres - from thrillers to sex movies to auteurist films - the study analyses the ways in which film has played a part in constructing Italian cultural memory of the so-called anni di piombo (years of lead). The more recent English publication is a substantially revised and updated version of the Italian version.

Edited Volumes

'History and Memory in Italian Cinema', special issue of Modern Italy, 22:2 (2017), with Sally Hill and Giacomo Lichtner (University of Victoria at Wellington)

'Regarding the Pleasure of Others: Entertainment and the Popular in World Cinemas', special issue of New Cinemas 14:2 (2016), with Shoba V. Ghosh (Mumbai)

I co-founded and edited the annual Film Issue of the journal The Italianist (with Millicent Marcus, Yale) between 2009 and 2013

Terrorism, Italian Style: Representations of Political Violence in Contemporary Italian Cinema (London: IGRS Books, 2012), with Ruth Glynn (Bristol) and Giancarlo Lombardi (CUNY)

Imagining Terrorism: The Rhetoric and Representation of Political Violence in Italy, 1969-2006 (London: Legenda, 2009), with Pierpaolo Antonello (Cambridge)

'Thinking Italian Film', a dedicated issue of Italian Studies, 63: 2 (2008), with Catherine O'Rawe (Bristol)

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

'What is Italian Cinema?', California Italian Studies, 7:1 (2017) [online publication: no page numbers]

'History and memory in Italian cinema: a virtual roundtable', Modern Italy, 22:2 (2017), 213-223, with Robert S.C. Gordon and Giuliana Minghelli

'The Battle of Algiers at Fifty: End of Empire Cinema and the First Banlieue Film', Film Quarterly, 70: 2 (2016), 17-29 

'Towards World Heritage Cinema (Starting from the Negative)', in Paul Cooke and Rob Stone (ends.), Screening European Heritage: Creating and Consuming History on Film (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 63-84

'Cinema in the Library', in Michèle Mendelssohn and Denis Flannery (eds.), Alan Hollinghurst: Writing Under the Influence (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), pp. 141-55. A longer draft of this article is available here.

'Political/Popular Cinema', in Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva (eds.), Italian Political Cinema: Public Life. Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film (Oxford/Bern: Peter Lang, 2016), pp. 107-118

'Mascolinità e bianchezza nel cinepanettone', in Gaia Giuliani (ed.), Il colore della nazione (Milan: Mondadori Education, 2015), pp. 76-91. A longer English version of this article is available here.

'Cinema, storia, Italia: appunti per una ricerca in espansione', Studi culturali, 7: 2 (2015), 265-284. The original English version of this article is available here.

'Of Shite and Time', The Italianist, 35: 2 (2015), 294-9

'Towards an Ecology of Cinema and History', The Italianist, 34: 2 (2014), 250-55

'Italian National Cinema: The Cinepanettone', in The Italian Cinema Book, edited by Peter Bondanella (London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 261-7

'Cinepanettone carnevalesco', in Neri Parenti: risate mostruosamente proibite, a cura di Gianluigi Ceccarelli e Lilia Ricci (Assisi: AmaRcorD, 2013), pp. 89-100 

'Intellettuali e casalinghe in Colpire al cuore (Gianni Amelio, 1982)', in Immagini di piombo: cinema, storia e terrorismi in Europa, edited by Luca Peretti and Vanessa Roghi (Milan: Postmedia Books, 2014), pp. 33-43

'The Borders of the Homosocial in the Italian Christmas Comedy', La Tribune Internationale des Langues Vivantes, 56 (2013), 25-30 

Introduction to 'The Politics of Italian Cinema: Genres, Modes and Scholarship. A Roundtable', The Italianist, 33:2 (2013), 237-9

'Contemporary Italian Film-goers and Their Critics', with catherine O'Rawe,  in Watching Films: New Perspectives on Movie-going, Exhibition and Reception, ed. by Karina Averyard and Albert Moran (Bristol: Intellect, 2013), pp. 351-68

'On the Complexity of the Cinepanettone', in Popular Italian Cinema, ed. by Louis Bayman and Sergio Rigoletto (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 200-13

'Nostalgia di un decennio disprezzato: appunti sul primo cinepanettone', Cinema e storia: rivista di studi interdisciplinari, 1 (2012), pp. 175-92

'In pieno fumetto': Bertolucci, Terrorism and the commedia all'italiana', in Terrorism, Italian Style: Representations of Political Violence in Contemporary Italian Cinema, ed. by Ruth Glynn, Giancarlo Lombardi and Alan O'Leary (London: IGRS Books, 2012), pp. 45-62

'Introduction: Terrorism, Italian Style', with Ruth Glynn and Giancarlo Lombardi, in Terrorism, Italian Style: Representations of Political Violence in Contemporary Italian Cinema, ed. by Ruth Glynn, Giancarlo Lombardi and Alan O'Leary (London: IGRS Books, 2012), pp. 13-25

'Locations of Moro: The Kidnap in the Cinema', Remembering Aldo Moro: the Cultural legacy of the 1978 Kidnapping and Murder, ed. by Ruth Glynn and Giancarlo Lombardi (Oxford: Legenda, 2012), pp. 151-70

'The Phenomenology of the Cinepanettone', Italian Studies, 66: 3 (2011), 431-43

'Moro, Brescia, conspiracy: lo stile paranoico nel cinema italiano', in Strane storie: il cinema e i misteri d'Italia, ed. by Christian Uva (Soveria Manelli: Rubbettino, 2011), pp. 63-78

'Power as Such: The Idea of the Mafia in Francesco Rosi's Illustrious Corpses', in Mafia Movies: A Reader, ed. by Dana Renga (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2011), pp. 279-86 

'Against Realism: On a "Certain Tendency" in Italian Film Criticism', with Catherine O'Rawe (Bristol), Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 16: 1 (2011), 107-28

'Italian Cinema and the "anni di piombo"', Journal of European Studies, 40: 3 (2010), 243-57

'Moro, Brescia, Conspiracy: the Paranoid Style in Italian Cinema', in Imagining Terrorism: The Rhetoric and Representation of Political Violence in Italy, 1969-2009, ed. by Pierpaolo Antonello and Alan O'Leary (London: Legenda, 2009), pp. 48-62

'Terrorism and the anni di piombo in Italian cinema', ISLG Bulletin, 9 (2010), 40-48

'Violence and the wretched: The Cinema of Gillo Pontecorvo', with Neelam Srivastava (Newcastle), The Italianist, 29: 2 (2009), 249-64

'Sotto il segno della metafora: una conversazione con Giancarlo de Cataldo', with Pierpaolo AntonelloThe Italianist, 29: 2 (2009), 350-65

'After Brunetta: Italian Cinema Studies in Italy, 2000 to 2007', Italian Studies, 63: 2 (2008), 279-307

'Dead Man Walking: The Aldo Moro kidnap and Palimpsest History in Buongiorno, notte', New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, 6: 1 (2008), 33-45

'Marco Tullio Giordana, or the Persistence of "impegno"', In Postmodern Impegno: Ethics and Commitment in Contemporary Italian Culture, ed. by Pierpaolo Antonello and Florian Mussgnug (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009), pp. 213-32. Previously published in  in Intellettuali italiani del secondo Novecento, ed. by Angela Barwig and Thomas Stauder (Oldenbourg: Verlag für deutsch-italienische Studien, 2007), pp. 481-502.

'Ordinary People (Lest We Forget)', in State of Exception: Cultural Responses to the Rhetoric of Fear, ed. by Elena Bellina and Paola Bonifazio (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006), pp. 83-93

'Film and the 'Anni di piombo': Representations of Politically-Motivated Violence in Recent Italian Cinema', in Culture, Censorship and the State in Twentieth-Century Italy, ed. by Guido Bonsaver and Robert S. C. Gordon (Oxford: Legenda, 2005), pp. 168-78

'The Gendered Space of Cinema and Nation in Elizabeth and Michael Collins', Studies in European Cinema, 1: 2 (2004), 117-28

Reviews and short pieces

1. ‘Spaces and Times in The Battle of Algiers’, essay written for inclusion with DVD/Blu-Ray issue of new restoration of The Battle of Algiers from Cult Film, January 2018

Fifty Years of 'The Battle of Algiers': Past as Prologue, by Sohail Daulatzai (Minnesota, 2016), in Viewfinder Online, (November, 2017)

Un nuovo cinema politico? Vol II: Il passato sociopolitico, il potere istitutionzale, la marginalizzazione, ed by Luciana d'Arcangeli, William Hope and Silvana Serra (2014), in Annali d'italianistica, 35 (2017), 527-9

Fascism in Italian Cinema since 1945: The Politics and Aesthetics of Memory, by Giacomo Lichtner (2013), H-Net Reviews in Humanities and Social Sciences, October 2016

Un nuovo cinema politico italiano? Vol I: Lavoro, migrazione, relazioni di genere, ed. by Luciana d'Arcangeli, William Hope and Silvana Serra (2013), Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 4:3 (2006), 476-7

DA ERCOLE A FANTOZZI: CINEMA POPOLARE E SOCIETÀ ITALIANA DAL BOOM ECONOMICO ALLA NEOTELEVISIONE (1958-1976), by Giacomo Manzoli (2012), Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 3: 1,2 (2015), 216-7

‘Brutal Humanism’. Review of ‘Letizia Battaglia: Breaking the Code Of Silence’, photographic exhibition at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 22 February-4 May 2014, forthcoming in Source: the Photographic Review, 78 (Spring 2014), 54-5

Cinema, by Alain Badiou (Cambridge: Polity, 2013), in Badiou Studies, 3: 1 (2014), 289-95

La caduta degli angeli ribelli, in the section 'Melodrama' ed. by Danielle Hipkins, in Directory of World Cinema: Italy, ed. by Louis Bayman (Bristol: intellect, 2011), pp. 92-3

Natale sul Nilo, in the section 'Contemporary Cinema' ed. by Catherine O'Rawe, in Directory of World Cinema: Italy, ed. by Louis Bayman (Bristol: Intellect, 2011), pp. 260-1

Sinergie narrative: cinema e letteratura nell'Italia contemporanea, ed. by Guido Bonsaver, Martin McLaughlin and Franca Pellegrini (Florence: Cesati, 2008), in Modern Language Review, 106: 4 (2011), 1172-4

Italian Neofascism: The Strategy of Tension and the Politics of Nonreconciliation, by Anna cento Bull (Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2007),in Modern Italy, 15: 1 (2010), 120-23

Schermi di piombo: il terrorismo nel cinema italiano, ed. by Christian Uva (Soveria Manelli: Rubbettino, 2007), in Modern Italy, 15: 2 (2010), 233 - 35

The Don Camillo Stories of Giovannino Guareschi: A Humorist Portrays the Sacred, by Alan R. Perry (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press, 2007), in Annali d'italianistica, 28 (2010), pp. 623-25

Bicycle Thieves, by Robert S. C. Gordon (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), in The European Legacy, 14: 7 (2009), 898-99

Speaking Out and Silencing: Culture, Society and Politics in Italy in the 1970s, ed. by Anna Cento Bull and Adalgisa Giorgio (London: Legenda, 2006), in Modern Italy, 13: 3 (2008), 361-63

Gillo Pontecorvo: From Resistance to Terrorism, by Carlo Celli (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2005), in Annali d'italianistica, 25 (2007), 509-11

The Cinema of Nanni Moretti: Dreams and Diaries, by Ewa Mazierska and Laura Rascaroli (London: Wallflower Press, 2004). New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, 3: 3 (2005), 208-11


Interview with Matthew Monagle on the Italian cop film (the ‘poliziesco’/’poliziottesco’), Paracinema, 21 June 2014

The cinepanettone and Italian Cinema Studies: a conversation with Alan O’Leary and Catherine O’Rawe, one of four pieces on the Italian Christmas film published on the Reading Italian Studies postgraduate forum 'ReadingItaly

'Non disprezzate i cinepanettoni, sono un fenomeno.' Interview with Sergio Caroli. Giornale di Brescia, 1 May 2013

'Film di piombo', with Luca Peretti, Alias, 3 September 2011, ix

'Il terrorismo attraverso il prisma del cinema', with Alessandro Marongiu, Il sottoscritto (online journal, summer 2008)

Websites and Blogs

Italian Cinemas/Italian Histories. This is a project I'm developing with partners from other universities. The goal is to rethink the relationship of Italian cinema to the history of Italy from a descriptive and analytical rather than prescriptive and paternalistic perspective. The website contains a blog and other resources like interviews and event reports.

Progetto cinepanettone. This is my research blog for the project 'Holiday Pictures: Ritual, Genre, and Italian National Cinema' on the series of films released in Italy every December and colloquially referred to as 'cinepanettoni' ('film-Christmas-cakes'). The project is now complete and the blog is being updated only occasionally.

Italian Cinemas/Italian Histories (Mumbai). This blog is a record of two courses I taught at the University of Mumbai in the summers of 2011 and 2013, and it will lead into a record of the project of the same name.

My profile