This book chronicles the demise of the supposedly leftist Italian cultural establishment during the long 1980s. During that time, the nation's literary and intellectual vanguard managed to lose the prominence handed it after the end of World War II and the defeat of Fascism. What emerged instead was a uniquely Italian brand of cultural capital that deliberately avoided any critical questioning of the prevailing order. Ricciardi criticizes the development of this new hegemonic arrangement in film, literature, philosophy, and art criticism. She focuses on several turning points: Fellini's futile, late-career critique of Berlusconi-style commercial television, Calvi's late turn to reactionary belletrism, Vattimo's nihilist and conservative responses to French poststructuralism, and Bonito Oliva's movement of art commodification, Transavanguardia.
Alessia Ricciardi is Associate Professor of French and Italian at Northwestern University. Her book, The Ends of Mourning: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Film (Stanford, 2003), won the MLA's 2004 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies.