Dr Alan O'Leary

Associate Professor in Italian

+44 (0)113 343 3633

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

Location: Michael Sadler 148

Professor of Film and Cultural Studies. Director of Research and Innovation in the School of Languages Cultures and Societies. Member of the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures. Developing a large project on Italian cinema and history.

A short description of my research (October 2016)

My academia.edu profile


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



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

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

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

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

'Regarding the Pleasure of Others: Entertainment and the Popular in World Cinemas', special issue of New Cinemas (forthcoming 2017), with Shoba Ghosh

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

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

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

'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

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 academia.edu profile

Conference and Seminar Organisation

'Film and History' seminar series at Leeds 2013-14 convened with Chris Homewood

'"CineRoma", An International Graduate Summer Seminar on the Cinema and the City', Rome, 11-28 June 2012, convened with Zyg Baranski (Notre Dame) and Robert gordon (Cambridge)

'Defining Cultural Studies in a Modern Languages Context', symposium co-organized with Rachel Haworth, University of Leeds, 4 November 2011

'Poor text/ rich context? Approaches to popular film and television', symposium at University of Leeds, 25 June 2009

'National, Transnational, Cosmopolitan: The Locations of World Cinemas', Centre for World Cinemas (Leeds) virtual seminar series in association with the World Universities Network, 2008-09

'Memories of 1968: International Perspectives', 17-18 April 2008

'Thinking Italian Film', Seminar Series 2006-07, convened with Catherine O'Rawe

'La Violenza Illustrata: The Rhetoric and Representation of Political Violence in Italy from 1968 to the Present', Cambridge, 19-20 November 2004

Cambridge University Film Seminar (2004-05), founded and convened with Isabelle McNeill

Graduate Film Seminar, 'Film and the City' (2002-03), Cambridge, Faculty of Modern Languages, convened with Emma Wilson


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.