Michael Syrimis Associate Professor Department of French & Italian Tulane University

Michael Syrimis

Associate Professor of Italian
Coordinator of Cinema Studies
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Italian


Ph.D., University of Chicago


Michael Syrimis received his Ph. D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago in 2003. Before joining Tulane’s Department of French and Italian in 2005, he worked as a lecturer in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on Italian cinema and literature as well as the interaction between these two media at moments marked by radical shifts in twentieth-century Italian culture, such as the 1910s, ’30s, ’40s, and ’60s. He is particularly interested in the role played by film technology in the emergence of different strands of modernism at such key historical moments. His book, The Great Black Spider on Its Knock-Kneed Tripod: Reflections of Cinema in Early Twentieth-Century Italy, published in 2012 by the University of Toronto Press, studies the responses to the rise of cinema as mass entertainment in the 1910s by such influential literary figures as Gabriele D’Annunzio, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and Luigi Pirandello. His current long-term project studies the emergence of popular film genre in 1930s Italy as a product of diverse influences, including the advent of sound, Italian literature, classical Hollywood cinema, and Fascist politics. Professor Syrimis has also published articles on the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy’s most influential postwar poet and filmmaker. At Tulane he teaches a variety of courses on Italian film and literature as well as Italian history, culture, and language at all levels.

Selected publications

  • "The Light that Blinds: On Art in D'Annunzio's La Gioconda." Lara Raffaelli and Michael Subialka, eds. Reawakening Beauty: D'Annunzio's Seduction of the Senses. Spec. issue of Forum Italicum 51.2 (2017): 378-395.
  • “War, Laughter, and the Mechanized Body in Italian Silent Film.” In Italy and the Cultural Politics of World War I. Ed. Graziella Parati. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016. 89-106.
  • “Self-Parody in Pasolini’s La ricotta and Appunti per un’Orestiade africana.” Forum Italicum 47.3 (2013): 557-69.
  • The Great Black Spider on Its Knock-Kneed Tripod: Reflections of Cinema in Early Twentieth-Century Italy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.
  • “Pasolini’s Erotic Gaze from Medea to Salò.” Italica 89.4 (2012): 510-31.
  • “Mechanical Giants, Futurist Laughs: From Gazurmah to Deed’s Bully.” Federico Luisetti and Luca Somigli, eds. A Century of Futurism: 1909-2009. Spec. issue of Annali d’Italianistica 27 (2009): 225-42.
  • “From Nestoroff to Garbo: Pirandellian Humour in Its Cinematic Vernacular.” Quaderni d’italianistica 29.2 (2008): 29-52.


  • Italian Cinema and Literature
  • Pasolini, Film Theory, and Italian Modernism: The “Cinema of Poetry”
  • Neorealism in Film and Literature
  • Italian History and Culture