Queen's Film and Media

Queen's Film and Media

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Frank Burke head shot

I am a New Yorker by birth, a Canadian by good fortune, and an Italian in my dreams. To nourish the dreams, I have spent a good deal of time in Rome and in Tuscany. My PhD is from the University of Florida in English literature, though I wrote my dissertation on Federico Fellini. From 1972-75, I taught at the University of Kentucky (American literature primarily), where I started a film program within the English department. From 1975-87, I taught at the University of Manitoba (primarily film but some American and genre literature), where I was involved in the development of an Honours program in film. In 1987 I moved to Queen's, where I taught film in relation to postmodernity, ideological criticism, cultural studies, poststructural theory, and gender, with a strong emphasis on Italian culture and the interrelationships among Italian film, Hollywood, and American culture.

My academic research has been devoted to Italian, American, and Italian-American cinema, focusing for much of that time on Fellini. I have published three books on Fellini's films in English and have contributed to Italian volumes on the director. My Wiley Blackwell Companion to Italian Cinema (648 pp.) has just been published, and, along with Marguerite Waller (University of California, Riverside) and Marita Gubareva (free-lance journalist, translator, and editor) I am editing the Wiley Blackwell Companion to Federico Fellini, to appear in 2019 and link up with the centenary of Fellini’s birth in 2020.

I provided the audio commentary, along with the late Peter Brunette, for the Criterion 2006 dvd (and 2016 blu-ray) release of Fellini's Amarcord, as well as a solo commentary for Criterion’s 2016 blu-ray/dvd release of Fellini’s Roma.

In August 2011, I lectured on Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto and Italian Neorealism at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto. In the same year, I published a monograph-length study of Fellini's commercials in both Italian and English, as well as several essays on the Italian pseudo-mythological sword-and-sandal film of the 1950s and 1960s. I met with William Friedkin at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, where he was awarded the Festival’s lifetime achievement award. I contributed an essay on the postmodern dimension of his work to the Italian film journal Cabiria—Studi di Cinema, which I represented at the Festival.

I recently gave a keynote address, “Fellini in Historical Perspective,” at the University of Toronto Conference, “Federico Fellini, disordinato e appassionato genio del cinema italiano,” and delivered a special session on Anglo-American television appropriations of Fellini at the Intersezioni conference in Florence. In 2017, I presented the Companion to Italian Cinema at the University of Tennessee, The Ohio State University, the American University of Rome, and L’Università degli Studi Roma Tre.

I am a member of the editorial board of Italica and a grant adjudicator for the American Council of Learned Societies.

In terms of non-scholarly work, from 1996 to 1998 I served as President of the Queen's University Faculty Association, and I contributed to the Association in various other capacities before and since. I have been board chairman of a Montessori school and day care dedicated to providing free tuition for children, board vice chair of a neighbourhood housing corporation, and vice president of a community development association.

I have been the single parent of two daughters, now grown and living in Toronto. Tyler is an artist, parent, and author of the recently published children’s book Bill Bowerbird. Wylie directs the Gail Appel Institute of the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, dedicated to the advancement of children’s and families’ mental health. I am the adoptive parent of a fourteen-year-old son, Gabe, whose physical stature at an early age earned him the nickname "Ercolino" or "little Hercules" among my Italian friends. Little no more, he once bequeathed me the clothes he so quickly outgrew. Fortunately, he is very stylish; unfortunately, his clothes are now way too large.