Plants are a constant presence in our lives (indeed, they make the survival of the human species possible), and yet our knowledge and awareness of them are limited. Plants are alive in ways that escape our common understanding of what life actually is: their structure, their ways of feeding, and their reproduction are so distant from our own that we often fail to perceive them as living beings. This presentation will explore the vegetal uncanny in contemporary Italian science fiction and film in terms of plant horror (Keetley and Tenga 2016), ranging from Mario Bava’s Caltiki, il mostro immortale (1959), one of the very first science-fiction movies produced in Italy, to literary works such as Giorgio Scerbanenco’s L’anaconda (1967) and Gilda Musa’s Giungla domestica (1975). I will ultimately show how dread associated with non-human agency lies at the core of contemporary Italian representations of the vegetal world.
This research has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 890656.
Marco Malvestio is EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Padua and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His project “EcoSF – The Ecology of Italian Science Fiction” explores the presence of ecological issues in Italian science fiction. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Padua, and was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Toronto. In 2021, he published The Conflict Revisited: The Second World War in Post-Postmodern Fiction (Peter Lang), based on his doctoral thesis, as well as Raccontare la fine del mondo: Fantascienza e Antropocene (nottetempo).
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