Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Paul Julian Smith

Subject Categories

Comparative Literature | Film and Media Studies


futurity, instrumentalization, consumerism, sexuality, transgression, nostalgia


Since Pasolini deliberately cultivated an unrecognizable and illegible public image that embraced incoherence, much of the scholarship surrounding him is plagued by contradictions and mutual exclusivity. For some, Pasolini was a utopian prophet, for others apocalyptic, but most agree that he, through his transmedial and highly self-inscribed life-work, was responding primarily to the crises of neocapitalist consumerism, especially its degenerative effects on sexual conventions and the body. Through an investigation of Pasolini’s controversial essays on film theory, the details of his biography, and the films of the Trilogia della vita, this thesis argues that it is a mistake to assume that the “return to origins” in the Trilogia is expressing an attitude toward the future. This is because the radical subversive power of tales told “only for the pleasure of telling” inheres in its resistance to any form of instrumentalization. Instead, by means of his transgressive conception of freedom, Pasolini’s invention is an attempt to remain in touch with evanescent “Reality,” which only appears in the present.