Call for Papers: Transatlantic Modern Consumerisms: Italian Goods and Commercial Cultures in Postwar America. Pollenzo, Italy, 25-26 June 2021
The University of Gastronomic Sciences Pollenzo, Polytechnic of Milan, Roma Tre University, and University of Eastern Piedmont organize a joint interdisciplinary conference on the influence of modern Italian culture and goods on postwar American consumerism, taste, and lifestyles.
The period under consideration is delimited by two landmark exhibits held at the New York City’s MoMa introducing a “new Italian culture” to the American public: “Twentieth-Century Italian Art” (1949) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972). The 1950s and 1960s have traditionally been characterized as the heyday of mass production, mass consumerism, and mass culture in the transatlantic space and the “Americanization” of Europe within the global political context of the Cold War. However, in the opposite direction, the postwar also saw the emergence, manifestations, and meanings of an Italian style (eventually called Made in Italy), distinctly “Italian” and “modern,” which originated in Italy and travelled to the United States via a transnational infrastructure for cultural and commercial exchange.
While the products of U.S. mass production and mass culture, from Hollywood to Coca-Cola, invaded European markets and minds, new Italian commodities and commodified experiences – in the four Fs of fashion, film, food, and fiction and beyond – entered U.S. commercialism and the global consciousness of urban, sophisticated, North American consumers.
The conference Transatlantic Modern Consumerisms: Italian Goods and Commercial Cultures in Postwar America aims at examining and discussing which Italian items of fashion, film, food, fiction, design, art, popular music, tourism, and other languages and industries were introduced to, circulated among and commodified for American audiences.
The conference pursues the recognition of a modern style associated to Italian cultural artefacts and iconographic people (movie stars, artists, designers, writers, etc.) and intertextual discourses on Italy, the Italians, and the qualities of Italian goods.
The conference looks at the ways and strategies in which such styles and discourses were commercialized into consumer goods and experiences and appropriated as markers of distinction in the identity formation of different social groups and subjects in the United States (middle-class, women, African Americans, youth, gay and lesbian, Italian Americans, etc.)
Finally, the conference will look at the work of the different actors, public and private, involved in the promotion of Italian goods, artistic products, ideas, and imaginaries among postwar U.S. audiences (from Italian Chambers of Commerce in the United States and the Italian Trade Agency to American department stores, marketers and advertisers, exhibit organizers, film critics, food, wine, and restaurant reviewers, etc.)
The full call for papers with the full conference synopsis and themes is available here.
Proposal for papers must be submitted by 1 April 2021 including a title, an abstract of no more than 500 words, and a short bio (100 words), submitted in a Word (.doc or .docx) file to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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