Casetti named Sterling Professor of Humanities and Film and Media Studies

Francesco Casetti

Francesco Casetti, a seminal figure in the field of film studies, has been named the Sterling Professor of Humanities and Film and Media Studies, effective April 17.

The Sterling Professorship is awarded to a tenured faculty member who is considered one of the best in their field and is one of the university’s highest faculty honors.

He is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and an affiliate faculty member of the Yale School of Architecture (YSOA).

Although initially trained as a semiotician under the mentorship of Christian Metz, Casetti has shaped the trajectory of film and media studies through methodologically and theoretically expansive work. His early work, which includes essays on the films of Visconti, De Sica and Bertolucci, provided a scientific model for the analysis of film and the moving image. He then turned his attention to viewer issues. In his seminal monograph, “Inside the Gaze” (1986), Casetti was the first to assert that films offer more than gratification to viewers: instead, they actively create their viewers. In this work, Casetti skilfully weaved together concepts from semiotics and psychoanalysis, offering a completely original vision of the interrelationship between film and viewer.

Casetti’s work on television — exemplified by ‘Tra me e te’ (1988) and ‘L’ospite fisso’ (1995) — which introduced the concept of ‘communicative negotiations’, combines media analysis with ethnography; while his historical and historiographical research on film theory advanced new understandings of the role of cinema in shaping concepts of modernity (“Theories of Cinema, 1945-1995” (1993) and “Early Film Theories in Italy , 1896-1922” (2017)). In his historical research, Casetti explores with adventure the 20and and 21st centuries, comparing recent cinema to early 20th century cinema, as in his much-loved book “The Light Galaxy: Seven Key Words for the Cinema to Come” (2015). His current research focuses on three subjects: the theory of early cinema and cinephobic postures in the first half of the 20th century; the relocation of cinema to new spaces and on new media and the persistence of an “idea of ​​cinema” in the digital age; and the screen as an optical and spatial device.

Casetti’s work has influenced the global understanding of the history and meaning of moving images. He publishes in English, Italian and French, and his books and essays have been translated into Spanish, Hungarian, Czech, Chinese, Korean, Slovenian and other languages; his work has been recognized at international congresses in Geneva, Rotterdam, Naples, Frankfurt, Berlin, Venice and other cities around the world.

An enthusiastic collaborator and facilitator, he initiated interdisciplinary projects at Yale, including a Mellon-Sawyer seminar on the genealogies of the excessive screen, with colleagues in Comparative Literature, German, Art History, and other areas. In 2021, Casetti was one of the first professors to participate in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ transversal courses initiative, for which he developed a new course on cinema and physics in collaboration with Michel Devoret. In 2018, he co-hosted a seminar on Truth and the Media in conjunction with the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

Casetti is currently Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Media Studies and served as program chair from 2015-2019. His contributions to academic committees have been substantial: he is currently a member of the Humanities Doctoral Education Advisory Task Force and previously served on the Humanities Strategic Committee, Creative Arts Advisory Committee, Poynter Fellowship Advisory Board, and other key administrative bodies.