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Frank Burke



I am a New Yorker by birth, a Canadian by current good fortune, and an Italian in my dreams. My Ph.D. is from the University of Florida in English literature, though I wrote my dissertation on Federico Fellini. From 1972-75, I taught at the University of Kentucky (American literature primarily), where I started a film programme within the English department. From 1975-87, I taught at the University of Manitoba (primarily film but some American literature), where I was involved in the development of an Honours programme in film. In 1987 I moved to Queen's, where I have been teaching film in relation to postmodernity, ideological criticism, cultural studies, poststructural theory, and gender, with a strong emphasis on Italian culture and the interrelationships among Italian film, Hollywood, and American culture. I have been invited to talk next fall in Toronto and next spring at the University of Tennessee on Anglo popular-culture appropriations of Fellini.

Throughout my career I have been a researcher into Italian, American, and Italian-American cinema, specializing for much of that time in the work of Federico Fellini. I have published three books on Fellini's films in English and have contributed to three Italian volumes on the director. I have approximately 70 other publications related to all three of my areas of interest. My work has been published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Italy. I recently published a monograph-length study of Fellini's commercials in Italian, as well as several essays on the Italian sword-and-sandal film (more on this below). I provided the audio commentary, along with the late Peter Brunette, for the Criterion 2006 DVD release of Fellini's Amarcord. . In August 2011, I gave an invited lecture on Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto and Italian Neorealism at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto. Ran into many former students to my immense pleasure.

I am currently editing the Blackwell Companion to Italian Cinema, a 600-page collection of essays designed to provide comprehensive coverage of significant matters relevant to the field, and I am contracted to write, for Edinburgh University Press, a volume on the Italian sword-and-sandal film, also called the "peplum," of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Within a seven-year period from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, the Italian film industry produced scores of films based loosely on classical myth and starring American, British, and (rarely) Italian body builders as figures such as Hercules. Hercules and Hercules Unchained, with Steve Reeves, are the best known. They were intended initially for a rural Italian market and then, after unexpected international success, for an American film and television market. While often quite silly in terms of mythological fidelity and production values, these films hold a good deal of interest (for me) with regard to postwar Italian and American politics and culture and with regard to film economics in both Italy and Hollywood. They also raise interesting questions about the relationship of art cinema to popular cinema, especially in relation to Hollywood sword-and-sandal films of the same period. The "pepla" have a substantial cult following even today, reflected in the large number that have recently appeared in DVD.

I met with William Friedkin at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, where he was awarded the Festival's lifetime achievement award. I contributed an essay on the postmodern dimension of Friedkin's work to the Italian film journal Cabiria, which I represented at the Festival.I recently gave a keynote address, "Fellini in Historical Perspective," at the University of Toronto Conference, "Federico Fellini, disordinato e appassionato genio del cinema italiano," and lectured on "Appropriations of Fellini in Anglo-American Film and Television" at the University of Tennessee. I will be revising that talk for a special presentation at a conference on Fellini in Florence in June, 2015.

From 1996 to 1998, I served as President of the Queen's University Faculty Association, and I have served the Association in various capacities before and since. I have been board chairman of a Montessori school and day care, board vice chair of a neighbourhood housing corporation, and vice president of a community development association. I am the single parent of two daughters, now grown and living in Toronto, and the adoptive parent of a twelve-year-old son who, mythic in his own right, has been known to certain Italian friends as "Ercolino" or "little Hercules." Little no more, he now gives me his hand-me-down clothes. Fortunately he is very stylish.

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