Conference: Transatlantic Modern Consumerisms: Italian Goods and Commercial Cultures in Postwar America, 1949-1972
Abstr. due: 15.04.2021
Dates: 25.06.21 — 26.06.21
Organizing comittee e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organizers: The University of Gastronomic Sciences Pollenzo, Polytechnic of Milan, Roma Tre University, and University of Eastern Piedmont
The University of Gastronomic Sciences Pollenzo, Polytechnic of Milan, Roma Tre University, and University of Eastern Piedmont organize a joint interdisciplinary conference on the influence of modern Italian culture and goods on postwar American consumerism, taste, and lifestyles.
The period under consideration is delimited by two landmark exhibits held at the New York City’s MoMa introducing a “new Italian culture” to the American public: “Twentieth-Century Italian Art” (1949) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972). The 1950s and 1960s have traditionally been characterized as the heyday of mass production, mass consumerism, and mass culture in the transatlantic space and the “Americanization” of Europewithin the global political context of the Cold War. However, in the opposite direction, the postwar also saw the emergence, manifestations, and meanings of an Italian style(eventually called Made in Italy), distinctly “Italian” and “modern,” which originated in Italy and traveled to the United States via a transnational infrastructure for cultural and commercial exchange.
While the products of U.S. mass production and mass culture, from Hollywood to Coca-Cola, invaded European markets and minds, new Italian commodities and commodified experiences—in the four Fs of fashion, film, food, and fiction and beyond—entered U.S. commercialism and the global consciousness of urban, sophisticated, north American consumers.
The conference Transatlantic Modern Consumerisms: Italian Goods and Commercial Cultures in Postwar Americaaims at examining and discussing which Italian items of fashion, film, food, fiction, design, art, popular music, tourism, and other languages and industries were introduced to, circulated among and commodifiedfor American audiences.
The conference pursues the recognition of a modern style associated to Italian cultural artifacts and iconographic people(movie stars, artists, designers, writers, etc.) and intertextual discourses on Italy, the Italians, and the qualities of Italian goods.
The conference looks at the ways and strategies in which such styles and discourses were commercialized into consumer goods and experiences and appropriated as markers of distinction in the identity formation of different social groups and subjects in the United States (middle-class, women, African Americans, youth, gay and lesbian, Italian Americans, etc.)
Finally, the conference will look at the work of the different actors, public and private, involved in the promotion of Italian goods, artistic products, ideas, and imaginaries among postwar U.S. audiences (from Italian Chambers of Commerce in the United States and the Italian Trade Agency to American department stores, marketers and advertisers, exhibit organizers, film critics, food, wine, and restaurant reviewers, etc.)
Accordingly, the conference especially welcomes paper proposalsthat present and discuss:
- business and cultural histories of specific Italian products, material and/or cultural artifacts, in their journey from their place of production to their commercialization in postwar United States;
- discourses on Italian identities articulated in different languages and industries (fashion, film, food, fiction, design, etc.) and commodified into Italian consumer products and experiences commercialized in postwar United States;
- actors, individuals and agencies, public and private, Italian and U.S., involved in the promotion of Italian goods, experiences, and imaginaries among postwar U.S. publics
- U.S. markets and consumers’ perception, appreciation, and use of Italian goods and cultural artifacts.