Grace Russo Bullaro
Professor & Co-Director of Graduate Studies
B.A., City College of New York
My academic interests, stated broadly, include cultural and intellectual movements such as Modernism, Postmodernism, Existentialist philosophy and gender studies. The content areas that I deal with most frequently include American culture, Italian cinema (in the latter, especially the work of directors Roberto Benigni, Lina Wertmüller and "new" migration cinema) and literature.
Like many people transplanted at an early age, I developed a compelling interest in the cultural component of identity formation. Much of my work has implicitly or explicitly addressed the question: How does our culture shape who we are, on an individual and collective level? Over the past decade my focus has been largely on socio-political and cultural issues in the context of identity politics and global cultural exchanges. The new millennium has been characterized by an unprecedented redefinition and erasure of boundaries. New geo-political realities have emerged, for example the Euro-zone has largely erased previous national boundaries and has made possible an unimpeded flow of people across entry and transit points. Recent global upheavals like economic crises and wars have created unprecedented migratory flows that have challenged the very concept of national identity and human rights.
Figurative boundaries have also been redefined. Formerly rigorously defined institutions like marriage, the family and its structure, racial and gender definitions, and cultural hegemony and subjugation have been the subject of intensive study. Indeed, the very nature of communication needs to be rethought as ever-evolving technologies affect human interactions.
My belief is that in a world increasingly shaped by the global/local paradoxes, understanding one culture aids us in understanding global trends. My work aims to comprehend crucial issues such as racism, globalization, migratory flows and economic systems. I approach these critical issues not only through literature, but also through current mediums such as film, television and "new media". For 3 years I had the privilege of collaborating with "Italian Studies at Oxford University", an international community of researchers who study migration and how it impacts and molds culture. As Head Researcher for the North American team investigating cinema, I had the pleasure of organizing our New York conference and participating in others where scholars from as far away as Australia met to share the latest ideas and theories about the globalization process and how it shapes migratory flows. The result of this research was Shifting and Shaping a National Identity: Transcultural writers and multiculturalism in Italy today. (2014). My current book, The Works of Elena Ferrante: History, Poetics and Theory, will be the first full-length study of this critically and popularly acclaimed Italian writer and will bring together the cutting edge research being done today by established scholars as well as the freshest blood in our field. The two volume work is projected for publication in 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan.
Not surprisingly, the range of courses that I have taught over the years has been very broad. I've taught French and Italian at other institutions, and here at Lehman for the past twenty-two years I have enjoyed teaching narratives of the Western tradition such as The Odyssey and The Divine Comedy just as much as teaching on Existentialist Literature, Postmodernist authors, Women's Studies, Socio-political issues in developing countries, and a host of other subjects.
- The Works of Elena Ferrante: Reconfiguring the Margins (2016)
- Shaping and Shifting a National Identity: Migration Literature in Italy Today (2014)
- From Terrone to Extracomunitario: New Manifestations of Racism in Contemporary Italian Cinema(2010)
- Man in Disorder, The Cinema of Lina Wertmüller in the 1970s (2007)
- Beyond Life is Beautiful, Comedy and Tragedy in the Cinema of Roberto Benigni (2005)