A Critical Companion to Dario Argento
edited by Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns
Part of the Critical Companion to Popular Directors series edited by Adam Barkman and Antonio Sanna
With Occhiali neri (2022), horror Master and auteur Dario Argento returned to the giallo genre and, for some, to top form, after a long hiatus. Argento always attracts attention because he cemented the status of Italian horror cinema as a corpus of films worthy of scholarly attention. Moreover, Argento, along with Mario Bava, crystallized to perfection the cycle known worldwide as giallo, the latter predicated on investigations carried out by amateur detectives where the crimes were more important than solving the mystery. Indeed, Argento’s film L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970) gave definitive form to the giallo cycle, while his classic Suspiria (1977) put in tension the formal logic of narrative cinema. The director’s various works on the horror genre are now considered global classics, many of them being taught in any course on the history of film, while many others deserve a critical reexamination. Argento’s rich career fluctuated between the commercial and the authorial voice and his influence is still felt today.
Academic criticism has not ignored Argento, and there are lengthy texts discussing his work. Even so, there is no edited collection in the English language that covers his entire oeuvre, uneven but always interesting as it is. This anthology seeks previously unpublished essays that explore Argento’s entire body of work.
Proposals on Argento best known films such as Suspiria, Profondo rosso (1975) or Tenebre (1982) are welcome, but the idea of the series is to cover the director’s entire oeuvre. Essays on neglected films such as Trauma (1993), Giallo (2009), La sindrome di Stendhal (1996), Il cartaio (2003) or his infamous Dracula 3D (2012) are of especial interest for the editor. Argento’s work for TV with La porta sul buio (1973) or Ti piace Hitchcock? (2005) or his non-horror effort La quinta giornata (1973) are relevant as well. Also, Argento’s role as screenwriter in films such as La Chiesa (Michel Soavi, 1989), Maschera di cera (Sergio Stivaletti, 1997) or Dèmoni (Lamberto Bava, 1985) are of interest for our project.
This volume will be interdisciplinary in scope, including approaches from philosophy, literary studies, film studies, gender studies, history, psychology, posthumanism, architecture, ecology, etc. The chapters will be peer-reviewed, scholarly, and written at an academic level.
Contributions could include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
• Thematic, narrative and structural analysis of one or more films
• Visual style
• The giallo cycle
• Photography and cinematography
• The supernatural and the Gothic
• The Three Mothers trilogy
• Literary influences and issues of adaptations
• Argento’s work with Asia Argento and Daria Nicolodi
• Argento as an auteur
• Argento as a screenwriter
• Argento as a producer
• Soundscapes and music
• Visions of religions
• TV work
• Film as philosophy/philosophy in film
• The failure of the gaze
• Social and cultural contexts within Italy
• Italian youth
• The Roman landscape as site of horror
• Animals in Argento’s works
• Class, sexuality, gender and queer readings
• Influences on other directors
• Documentaries on Argento’s work
• The remake of Suspiria
This anthology will be organized into thematic sections around these topics and others that emerge from submissions. We are open to works that focus on other topics as well. Prospective authors are well to contact the editor with any questions, including potential topics not listed above. Please share this announcement with anyone you believe would be interested in contributing to this volume. Please submit a 300-500 word abstract of your proposed chapter contribution, a brief CV / bio, current position, affiliation, and complete contact information to editor Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 October 2023. Full chapters of 6,000-7,000 words are likely due in February 2024, after signing a contract with the publisher (this will be a volume in the ongoing Critical Companion to Popular Directors series edited by Adam Barkman and Antonio Sanna and published with Lexington Books at Roman & Littlefield).
Note: Acceptance of a proposed abstract does not guarantee the acceptance of the full chapter
Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns (PhD in Arts, PhD Candidate in History) works as Professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) - Facultad de Filosofía y Letras (Argentina)-. He teaches courses on international horror film. He is Director of the research group on horror cinema “Grite”, part of the editorial board of New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film (Intellect). He has authored a book about Spanish horror TV series Historias para no Dormir (Universidad de Cádiz, 2020) and has edited a book on Frankenstein bicentennial (Universidad de Buenos Aires), one on director James Wan (McFarland, 2021), one on the Italian giallo film (University of Mississippi Press) one on horror comics for Routledge and one on director Wes Craven. Currently editing a book on Hammer horror films for the launching of Lexington’s “Horror Studies” series. He is Director of “Terror: Estudios Críticos” (Universidad de Cádiz), the first-ever horror studies series in Spain.