Queen's Film and Media

Film and Media Studies
Film and Media Studies

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, poststructuralist theory, and gender, with a strong emphasis on Italian culture and the interrelationships among Italian film, Hollywood, and American culture.

My research has been devoted to Italian, American, and Italian-American cinema, with a frequent focus on Fellini. I have published three (soon to be five) books on Fellini’s films in English and have contributed to Italian volumes on the director. I provided the audio commentary, along with the late Peter Brunette, for the Criterion Collection 2006 DVD (and 2016 Blu-ray) release of Fellini's Amarcord, as well as a solo commentary for Criterion Collection’s 2016 Blu-ray/DVD release of Fellini’s Roma. In 2008, I lectured on Fellini’s commercials at Berkeley, leading to a 2011 monograph-length study published in Italian and in English. In 2013, I gave a keynote address, “Fellini in Historical Perspective,” at the University of Toronto Conference, “Federico Fellini, disordinato e appassionato genio del cinema italiano,” and in 2015, I delivered a special session on Anglo-American television appropriations of Fellini at the Intersezioni conference in Florence.

With Marguerite Waller (University of California, Riverside) and Marita Gubareva (free-lance journalist, translator, and editor), I have edited Wiley Blackwell's A Companion to Federico Fellini, which is now in press and will link up with the centenary of Fellini’s birth in 2020. The volume comprises over 50 contributors and will be approximately 600 pages in print. Intellect Books (UK) will be publishing an updated version of my 1996 book, Fellini’s Films: From Postwar to Postmodern to coincide with the centenary. I have been invited to present on Fellini’s Book of Dreams in April in Rimini (Fellini’s birthplace) and to provide the keynote address for the Fellini 2020 Conference at the University of Toronto. I am involved with the Comune of Rimini to develop major projects worldwide celebrating Fellini’s creative work, cinematic and otherwise. I am working with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Toronto to see that something significant happens there. Marguerite is doing the same in Los Angeles and Marita in Russia. I am also in discussion with the Criterion Collection regarding their “Fellini 100” plans.

In terms of non-Fellini work, in August 2011, I lectured on Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto and Italian Neorealism at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto and published several essays on the Italian sword-and-sandal film of the 1950s and 1960s.  My Wiley Blackwell A Companion to Italian Cinema (edited volume, 648 pp.) was published in May 2017 and presented at Harvard in January 2018.

Thanks to Marita, she, Marguerite, and I are in contact with Lora Guerra, the Russian wife of the late Tonino Guerra. 2020 is also the centenary of Guerra’s birth. Guerra was a famed screenwriter for Fellini, Antonioni, Tarkovsky, and others, and a major writer of fiction and poetry—as well as a noted visual artist. He has left an important artistic imprint in both Italy and Russia. With the support of Lora, we  are organizing a special issue on Guerra for the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies.

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 after. 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, graphic designer, and author of the recently published children’s books Bill Bowerbird and Where Are You Now? She has been contracted by Random House US to publish her next book with them. Wylie directed the Gail Appel Institute of the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre (Toronto), dedicated to the advancement of children’s and families’ mental health, and managed the Centre’s transition when it became part of the Hospital for Sick Children. She is a Talent Management Consultant for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario and currently enrolled in the Executive MBA Program at Queen’s.

I am the adoptive parent of a teenage son, Gabe, whose physical stature even as a young child earned him the nickname "Ercolino" or "little Hercules" among my Italian friends. He is now 6'3" and a mountain of muscle. Once he reached a certain size, he began bequeathing to me the clothes he outgrew. Fortunately, he is very stylish; unfortunately, his clothes are now way too large for me. Tempus fugit. As of the (fleeting) moment he is, among many fine things, a high school football titan.