Francesco Casetti

Francesco Casetti's picture
Sterling Professor of Humanities and Film and Media Studies
+1 (203) 432-0671

Francesco Casetti currently teaches courses on Semiotics, on Film and Media Theories, on Post-Cinema and Technical Images, and on Media and Space. He is the author of six books, translated (among other languages) in French, Spanish, Czech, and Korean; he is also co-author of two books, editor of more than ten books and special issues of journals, and author of more than sixty essays.

During the 1970s and 1980s, his research has been mostly focused on semiotics of film and television, in particular about genres, intertextuality, and enunciation. His major achievement was an extensive study on the implied spectator in film (Inside the Gaze, Indiana, 1999, or. 1986) and an edited book on television and its imagined audience (Tra me e te, 1988). During the ‘90s he increasingly moved toward an original combination of close analysis and ethnographic research of actual audiences, introducing the notion of “communicative negotiations” (L’ospite fisso, 1995, on media consumption in 32 Italian families, and Communicative Negotiation in Cinema and Television, 2002, on the idea of “communicative pact” and  “communicative situation”). More recently he explored the role of cinema in the context of modernity (Eye of the Century. Film, Experience, Modernity, Columbia, 2008, or. 2005) and the reconfiguration of cinema in a post-medium epoch, comparing this shift with the rise of cinema at the beginning of 20th Century (The Lumière Galaxy: Seven Key words for the Cinema to Come, Columbia, 2015). He has also significantly written, and still writes, on film theories (Theories of Cinema. 1945-1995, Texas, 1999, or. 1993, and the anthology Early Film Theories in Italy. 1896-1922, AUP 2017). His next projects are an wide-ranging analysis of the anxieties that cinema raised in the first decades of the 20th Century, compared with the iconophobic tradition and with the fears triggered by the contemporary media, and (with Bernard Geoghegan) an innovative archaeology of the screen, starting from the Phantasmagoria of 18th Century to the contemporary mobile hand held devices.

Francesco Casetti has taught in Italy at the University of Genova, of Trieste, and the Catholic University of Milan. He was visiting professor at Université de Paris III - la Sorbonne Nouvelle (1977), at the University of Iowa (1988, 1991 and 1998) and Harvard (2014). In 2000 he was the recipient of the Chair of Italian Culture for a distinguished scholar at the University of California-Berkeley. He was William P. Evans Fellow at the University of Otago (New Zealand) in 2011, and  Fellow at the IKKM, Bauhaus University at Weimar in 2012.

He is member of the Advisory Boards of several film journals and research institutions. He sits in the boards of MaxMuseum, Lugano (Switzerland), and MART Museum, Rovereto (Italy). He is a member of the Historical Accademia degli Agiati, correspondent member of the Historical Accademia delle Scienze (Bologna), and foreigner member of the Historical Accademia di Scienze Morali e Politiche (Naples). 

With Jane Gaines (Columbia University) is the co-founder of the Permanent Seminar on Histories of Film Theories, an international network of film scholars aimed at a systematic exploration of the field of film and media theories (see the website:

Photo ©Laila Pozzo


This collection is the first to bring together scholars to explore the ways in which various people and groups in Italian society reacted to the advent of cinema. Looking at the responses of writers, scholars, clergymen, psychologists, philosophers, members of parliament, and more, the pieces collected here from that period show how Italians developed a common language to describe and discuss this invention that quickly exceeded all expectations and transcended existing categories of thought and artistic forms.


Francesco Casetti believes new media technologies are producing an exciting new era in cinema aesthetics. Whether we experience film in the theater, on our hand-held devices, in galleries and museums, onboard and in flight, or up in the clouds in the bits we download, cinema continues to alter our habits and excite our imaginations.


Is it true that film in the twentieth century experimented with vision more than any other art form? And what visions did it privilege? In this brilliant book, acclaimed film scholar Francesco Casetti situates the cinematic experience within discourses of twentieth-century modernity. He suggests that film defined a unique gaze, not only because it recorded many of the century’s most important events, but also because it determined the manner in which they were received.

FASSPH Humanities Program
Fields of Interest: 
Semiotics of film and television, in particular about genres, intertextuality, and enunciation
Geography Focus: 
Western Europe
Thematic Focus: 
Period Focus: