You are all invited to attend the lecture The lingering specters of the universal story in Call Me by Your Name by Sergio Rigoletto (University of Oregon) on 22 may. This lecture is organized by Italian Studies, in collaboration with PCI and the Gender Studies Programme.
Ever since Call Me by Your Name premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, a common response to the film has been to celebrate it as a powerfully universal story. Exploring some of the distinctive ways in which the film may allow this type of response, this lecture asks whether CMBYN epitomizes a post-political moment for the kind of cinema that deals with LGBTQ lives, one in which the exclusionary trap of identity politics gets replaced by the universal aspiration to address everybody.
Lingering homophobic specters
This lecture seeks to expose and make sense of the lingering (homophobic) specters that, according to several critics, have been banished from the dreamy arcadia of the Italian villa in which the love between Elio and Oliver blossoms. It will show that these specters are present in the form of a strange, eerie affect that haunts the film. By exploring the impact of this affect on the conditions of plausibility of the story, the lecture will demonstrate that CMBYN is indeed a universal story not despite but because of the function and significance of homosexuality within the film.
The lecture will show that the claim of universality carries an implicit aspiration to go beyond difference, an aspiration that is most apparent in the gesture of the benevolent critic who mentions the question of homosexuality within CMBYN only to quickly assert its irrelevance. This aspiration produces an excess that returns to haunt the experience of universal spectatorship that the film claims to address. The lecture ultimately asks whether the category of ‘universality’ may be rescued from its traditionally essentialist grounding to account for contemporary conditions of spectatorships and experiences that do not elide difference but appear inextricably informed by it.
Sergio Rigoletto is Associate Professor of Italian and Cinema Studies at the University of Oregon (USA). He has a joint appointment in the Cinema Studies program and in the department of Romance Languages. His expertise is in European Cinema (especially Italian), Queer Cinema, Stars Studies, Film Comedy, and Television. His current research focuses on film star Anna Magnani, the question of authenticity in the media, and the queer art film.