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november, 2017

09nov4:30 pm6:00 pmAt Home with Transgression: On the Consanguinity of Queerness and Boundaries Grad Colloquium with Alessia Palanti


Event Details

At Home with Transgression: On the Consanguinity of Queerness and Boundaries 

Shot with modest means and on a low budget, Giada Colagrande’s film, Aprimi il cuore (Open my heart, Italy, 2002) is immodest in all its other aspects. Open my heart is an intriguing and mysterious tale of two sisters, Maria, a prostitute, and Caterina, a willing captive in their apartment, whose sexually intense bond turns deadly when any man crosses the boundaries of their secret relationship. Caterina accepts her state of “imprisonment” until the day she falls in love with Giovanni. When Maria discovers the affair, she develops a homicidal fury of which Caterina partakes, but also manages to end.

This unusually graphic, unusually disturbing, norm-bending work compared to both mainstream and independent Italian cinema, also relies on a number of ekphrastic references to classical and canonical art pieces, theology, music, and literature. Gothic paintings of the Virgin Mary, melodies from Schumann’s concertos, and lines from Dante’s Divine Comedy, are either interwoven into or materialize against the transgressive tones of incestuous lesbian sex, prostitution, and murder. In this chapter of my dissertation, I argue that while Open My Heart poses serious challenges to (hetero)normativity and to the myth of the family unit, it also deeply relies on these very structures to yield an exploration of queer disruption.

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About the Speaker

Alessia Palanti is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She was Graduate Fellow at the Institute for Research on Women’s Gender and Sexuality this past academic year, and this year she is teaching a Gender and Sexuality-themed writing course. She is also currently writing her dissertation, which explores female queer discourse in contemporary Italy through the deployment of space(s) in 21st century female-directed films.Outside Columbia she’s been a consultant for the United Nation Women’s HeForShe Initiative, for a project that investigates gender bias in cinema. She co-curated an American independent film showcase, “American Fringe,” for Paris’s 2016 Festival D’Automne; and in 2015 she was on the selection committee, of the Rome Film Festival. Alessia is also a contemporary dancer/choreographer in New York City committed to moving and creating in spaces with feminist and queer political agendas.


(Thursday) 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

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The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality is the locus of interdisciplinary feminist and queer scholarship and teaching at Columbia University.

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