Gundle, Stephen 1956-
GUNDLE, Stephen 1956-
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Duke University Press, Box 90660, Durham, NC 27708-0660. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Royal Holloway College, University of London, senior lecturer and head of the department of Italian.
I comunisti italiani tra Hollywood e Mosca, 1995, translated as Between Hollywood and Moscow: The Italian Communists and the Challenge of Mass Culture, 1943-1991, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 2000.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Collaborating with David Forgacs and Marcella Filippa on a study of mass culture and national identity in Italy between the years 1936-54; working on books about glamour and about feminine beauty and national identity in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italy.
SIDELIGHTS: British educator Stephen Gundle has published several books dealing with the Italian political and social world. As the senior lecturer and head of the department of Italian at Royal Holloway College, University of London, Gundle has a number of research interests, including twentieth-century Italian cultural and political history. He also teaches courses on Italian cinema, television, and the mass media, as well as fashion and design. Two of Gundle's books have been published in English, including The New Italian Republic: From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to Berlusconi, which he coedited with Simon Parker. The book contains more than twenty essays, written by a variety of British political scientists and historians, dealing with how the Italian political landscape was dramatically transformed during the early 1990s. In addition, Gundle authored Between Hollywood and Moscow: The Italian Communists and the Challenge of Mass Culture, 1943-1991, an in-depth study of the Italian Communist Party's rise and fall in the years following World War II. Both books were published in the United States in 2000.
In The New Italian Republic Gundle and Parker collect and edit the work of twenty-two authors who specialize in Italian politics. Each essay examines the dramatic events, between 1991 and 1994, which led to the fall from power of two political parties: the Christian Democrats and Italian Communist Party. Up until the early 1990s, the two parties had dominated Italian politics for nearly fifty years. In their place, the Italian people elected a number of different parties, including the neo-fascist MSI and the Forza Italia, which was led by Italian media baron Silvio Berlusconi. Each of the authors discusses a different aspect of the monumental shift, and most agree that it signaled a crisis in Italy's democratic process. However, none of the essayists believe the changes amount to a revolution. "The essays in this volume are almost all clearly written, and will be readily accessible to students as well as specialists," wrote Christopher Duggan, who reviewed the book for Political Studies. Duggan went on to refer to the work as an "excellent collection of essays." S. Z. Koff of Choice also lauded the book. "The editors have assembled a very knowledgeable group of contributors," Koff wrote. James Newell, writing for West European Politics, felt the work is especially beneficial to students. Newell called it "a convenient and authoritative introduction to recent developments in contemporary Italian politics."
Originally published in Italian in 1995, Between Hollywood and Moscow also won the praise of literary critics. In this work Gundle reviews the legacy of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which came to power in the aftermath of World War II and dissolved itself in 1991. As Gundle points out, the PCI was probably the most successful communist party in the Western world, and "the last great left-wing subculture in Western Europe." However, the party faced many challenges to maintain its rule, and much of the book focuses on these challenges. Drawing from his extensive research of PCI archives, Gundle discusses how the party dealt with the tremendous success of capitalism in Italy, due largely to increased consumerism, as well as a major influx of American culture. Gundle surmises that the party's downfall was a result of its inability to understand mass culture. For this, he largely blames the PCI's rigid party structure. Several literary critics felt Between Hollywood and Moscow would further the understanding of why the PCI collapsed. "The book is an original contribution to knowledge based on a prodigious amount of research," wrote Stephen Hellman of the International History Review. "The interpretive framework and the treatment of specific historical details are wholly persuasive." Hellman called the effort a "superb study." Likewise, Chiarella Esposito, who reviewed the book for History: Review of New Books, referred to it as "a comprehensive and sound study."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, October, 1996, p. 354; September, 2001, p. 200.
History: Review of New Books, fall, 2002, p. 21.
International History Review, March, 2002, pp. 193-195.
Political Studies, September, 1997, pp. 815-816.
Times Literary Supplement, February 8, 2002, p. 31.
West European Politics, January, 1997, pp. 255-256.
Duke University Press Web site,http://www.dukeupress.edu/ (August 1, 2002).
Royal Holloway College Web site,http://www.rhul.ac.uk/Italian (August 1, 2002), "Stephen Gundle."*