The Poet and the Diva: Print Media from the Golden Age of Italian Silent Film


ACLS Fellowship Program


Romance Languages and Literatures


Focusing on discourses of stardom and celebrity, this book analyzes the print media of early cinema in Italy, between 1890 and 1920, when the film industry flourished by promoting poets and divas. A rhetoric of charisma flows through anecdotal biographies, short stories, novels, film journals, books on film stars, novelizations, movie-fan magazines, and celebrity profiles. Print media from theater, literature, early cinema, and journalism create a network revealing celebrity as a social practice, reflecting a long-term historical process going back to the courts of early modern Europe. Prior Romantic notions of “hero worship” give way to the emergence of modern writers, actresses, and politicians who become charismatic figures in their own right. As Fascism invents itself as a mass movement, the roots of Mussolini’s charismatic authority can be “read” in forms of print media.