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Reading Groups

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Petrolio with Rebecca Falkoff and Joseph Perna (Online Only)


4 Sessions

Out of stock

4 Sessions Mondays, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT October 4 to December 6, 2021

Online via Zoom

Meeting Dates:
10/4, 10/25, 11/15, 12/6

This reading group will be dedicated to a careful reading of Petrolio (1992), the visionary posthumous work by the prolific poet, novelist, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1974). A collection of notes and narrative fragments Pasolini described as “a critical edition of an unpublished text,” Petrolio was found among his papers shortly after his death. At once lyrical and obscene, the text interrogates what Pasolini called Italy’s “anthropological mutation,” a catastrophic levelling of culture and intellectual life produced by neo-capitalism, consumerism, and the global expansion of the fossil fuel industry. Our reading practice will take its lead from Pasolini’s montage-like method, juxtaposing sections of the novel with films and texts that bring experimental aesthetics into conversation with environmental change.

Participants should purchase or borrow a copy of Petrolio, translated by Ann Goldstein; additional readings will be distributed by PDF, and films will be either shared on Google Drive or made available to rent and stream at home.

  • Session I: pp. v-xxv, 1-98; Cara New Dagget, Introduction, The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics and the Politics of Work; Timothy Mitchell, Introduction, Carbon Democracy. Political Power in the Age of Oil; View: The Mattei Affair (Francesco Rosi, 1972)
  • Session II: pp. 99-209; Karen Pinkus “Air,” and “Fleece,” in Fuel. A Speculative Dictionary; View: Porcile (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1969)
  • Session III: pp. 210-325; “The Disappearance of the Fireflies”; View: Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968)
  • Session IV: Finish Petrolio; View: La terra vista dalla luna (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1966)

Led by

  • Falkoff

    Rebecca Falkoff

    Rebecca Falkoff

    Rebecca Falkoff (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) is a scholar of twentieth and twenty-first century Italian literature and culture. She has taught courses in Italian Studies and Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley, Northwestern University, and at New York University. Her publications include Possessed: A Cultural History of Hoarding (Cornell, 2021) as well as essays on illegibility, new materialism, Primo Levi, and Elena Ferrante.

  • Perna

    Joseph Perna

    Joseph Perna

    Joseph Perna (Ph.D., New York University) is a writer, editor, and translator based in New York. He has taught Italian film and literature at New York University, Sewanee: The University of the South, and Wesleyan University. His scholarly publications explore the history of the emotions and vernacular modernism in Italy, with special emphasis on cinema, television, and magazine writing.