It’s been seven years since I defended my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Bologna’s Department of the Arts. Framing Death – La morte in diretta, tra cinema e media digitali was a multidisciplinary work aimed at accounting how death was portrayed in some audiovisual products and disseminated by what, at the time, was identified as “new media”.
Since then, within international contexts, I have been able to delve into some of the themes I dealt with in my research project: I’ve taught courses in the UK, and published articles and chapters in journals and edited collections. These publications finally scientifically approached some of the case studies to which I had dedicated detailed analysis in my dissertation, which had so far often found space in books and magazines with a less rigorous approach.
I must admit that in the last few years I had taken a “healthy” break from the topic, having soon realised that, as those who deal with Death Studies and media well know, this area of research requires quite an emotional effort. Such a commitment is difficult to maintain over an excessively long period with the intensity that the scientific method requires
The Alphabet Series
Today Framing Death is officially available as a book, the first volume of Alphabet, the new series with which the University of Bologna and Bononia University Press, its publishing house, intend to promote theses developed within the Alma Mater’s Ph.D. programs. I am honoured to be participating in this project, which allows to present research developed primarily for academics to a wider audience. And I am also pleased because it turns out in recent years my thesis has been widely consulted by students and researchers on the university digital repository: an interest that now, I hope, can reach a wider readership.
With this book, which I finished reviewing and updating during the coronavirus lockdown after the peer review process was completed, I have tried to answer some questions, no less stimulating today than when I started my research: why are we fascinated by the representations of death? What attracts us to audiovisual content considered unacceptable and morbid? Starting from the origins of cinema, I have analysed the promotional strategies, the critical reception and the fandom of films that in the past have been censored and at the same time greedily collected, forbidden objects that have now reached the status of cult products in specific niches of the public.
My study is intertwined with the impact that technology has had on the spread of images of death: from the Zapruder film to the birth of shock sites, and from the War Porn phenomenon to killers who ingeniously use social media. From the so-called snuff movies and shockumentaries to certain manifestations of contemporary art, from the “necroculture” to terrorism, what is developed in the book is a journey within the chaos of death from the analogue to the digital era.
At this link you can buy the printed volume or download it for free in Open Access digital format. I would like to take this opportunity to thank once again Prof. Guglielmo Pescatore, who followed the original thesis project; all the colleagues whose input contributed to stimulate my research; and the staff of Bononia University Press, who followed the editorial process with great care.