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headshot of Brendan Hennessey

Brendan Hennessey

Associate Professor

Romance Languages and Literatures


Brendan Hennessey focuses on 20th- and 21st-century Italian cinema and visual culture. His book, Luchino Visconti and the Alchemy of Adaptation (SUNY Press, 2021), examines 12 adaptations by Italian director Luchino Visconti (1906-1976). While often understood within the ideological and aesthetic framework of Italian Neorealism, the book argues for a more global viewpoint on Visconti, whose signature formalism was based on the fusion of literary sources and cinematic categories from around the world.

Hennessey is currently examining representations of disease in Italian cinema. Borrowing from fields of bioethics, epidemiology, medicine, public health, and aging and disability studies, this project analyzes how images of contagion and illness have appeared throughout the history of Italian film. Other publications span a spectrum of topics: intersections between Italian, Latin American and North American cinema; international genres like the war and boxing film in Italian cinema; the global special-effects industry in Rome; transatlantic Fascism before 1943; and how literary adaptations translate Italy to its citizens and the world. 

Hennessey has published in the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, Italian Culture, The Italianist, Modern Language Notes, and Italian American Review. He is co-editor of book reviews at the Journal for Italian Cinema & Media Studies.



  • PhD, University of California-Los Angeles
  • MA, University of Notre Dame
  • BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research Interests

  • Italian cinema and film theory
  • Film adaptation in theory and practice
  • Italian popular culture in film and television
  • American photography in Italy
  • Italian-American film and filmmaking

Teaching Interests

  • Italian cinema from the silent era to today
  • New York in Italian-American cinema
  • Cosa Nostra and the Italian Mafia
  • Literary adaptation
  • The Risorgimento in Italian historical films
  • Crime, glamour and industry in Italian culture
  • Intermediate and advanced Italian language and culture

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae