fip logo

This site uses analytics cookies to collect aggregate data and third-party cookies to improve the user experience.
Read the Complete Privacy Information.


Transatlantic Transfers

The Italian presence in post-war America.


The project will shift the research agenda from charting the cultural Americanization of Italy to retrieving context-specific instances of the Italianization of style in the U.S.A., and from a national/international to a transnational/global framing of the history of relations between Italy and the U.S.A. The Research is designed to trace the emergence, manifestations, and meanings of an Italian style (the so called “made in Italy”)- distinctly “Italian” and “modern” - that originated in Italy and became internationally known in the 1950s and 1960s, but whose visibility has depended on a complex international and intercultural infrastructure for cultural, political, and economic exchange between Italy and the U.S.A. It is also designed to investigate how specific Italian works of art, literature, film, design, fashion, visual culture, architecture, food and popular culture were introduced to American audiences (through events, exhibitions, book reviews, advertisements, festivals), between 1949 and 1972, and how a recognizable modern style associated to Italian iconographic people (writers, artists, designers, intellectuals and movie stars) was appropriated as a marker of distinction in the identity formation of an upward mobile, cosmopolitan, affluent American middle class. The research will then explore the subject matter of the transatlantic circulation of Italian cultures in the direction of the U.S.A. from three different angles and operative hypothesis:

  • The study of Modernism and of the impact of modern Italian culture on American literary and visual culture, and the reception of Italy as a modern society in post-war urban America
  • Transnationalism and the transatlantic circulation of people, capital, goods, ideas, lifestyles, imaginaries and emotional regimes between Italy and the U.S.A.
  • The Italianization of American urban culture and its continuing development beyond the 1960s.

    The project will be organized in 4 multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research fields, developed by the four partners, depending on their expertise.
    1) Transatlantic Consumer CulturesModern Italian commercial culture and exports in the United States
    2) Modern Italian Cool. Cultural networking and the circulation of Italian literary, artistic, and cultural icons between Italy and United States.
    3) Great Beauties. The impact of Italian modernization on post-war American film and cinematic culture.
    4) Mapping the Transfer. The Italian presence in American design, architecture and urbanism.

    The duration of Transatlantic Transfers will be articulated by a set of conferences, one per University taking part to the research, mainly addressed to a public of scholars, with the main aim to share knowledge within the research group and to grant the comparability of results through different areas. A book series will accompany the development of the research and a final exhibition will be a narrative path divided into different thematic environments, transversal to the different research areas, able to reconstruct the influence of Italian culture through design, literature, consumer culture, cinema and all those events that have contributed to the formation of "Made in Italy" in the American collective imagination.

Politecnico di Milano;
Università degli studi Roma Tre;
Università del Piemonte Orientale;
Università di Scienze Gastronomiche;
Link/Main Publications