cover of book

Clocking Out: The Machinery of Life in 1960s Italian Cinema
by Karen Pinkus
University of Minnesota Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-1-5179-0854-6 | Paper: 978-1-5179-0855-3
Library of Congress Classification PN1993.5.I88
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.430945


An original reflection on Italy’s postwar boom considers potentials for resistance in today’s neoliberal (dis)order

What can 1960s Italian cinema teach us about how to live and work today? Clocking Out challenges readers to think about labor, cinema, and machines as they are intertwined in complex ways in Italian cinema of the early ’60s. Drawing on critical theory and archival research, this book asks what kinds of fractures we might exploit for living otherwise, for resisting traditional narratives, and for anticapitalism. 

Italy in the 1960s was a place where the mass-producing factory was the primary mode of understanding what it meant to work, but it was also a time when things might have gone another way. This thinking and living differently appears in the cracks, lapses, or moments of film. Clocking Out is organized into scenes from an obscure 1962 Italian comedy (Renzo e Luciana, from Boccaccio 70). Reconsidering the origins of paradigms such as clocking in and out, “society is a factory,” and the gendered division of labor, Karen Pinkus challenges readers to think through cinema, enabling us to see gaps and breakdowns in the postwar order. She focuses on the Olivetti typewriter company and a little-known film from an Italian anthology movie, thinking with cinema about the power of the Autonomia movement, the refusal to work, and the questions of wages, paternalism, and sexual difference. 

Alternating microscopic attention to details and zooming outward, Pinkus examines rituals of production, automation, repetition, and fractures in a narrative of labor that begins in the 1960s and extends to the present—the age of the precariat, right-wing resentment, and nostalgia for an order that was probably never was.

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