Faculty Bookshelf

MASSIMO RIVA, Shadow Plays, Stanford University Press, 2022

Shadow Plays explores popular forms of entertainment used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to transport viewers to a new world, foreshadowing present-day virtual, augmented, and extended reality experiences (VR, AR, and XR). Typically studied as part of the prehistory of cinema or the archaeology of media, analog technologies such as the mondo nuovo or cosmorama, the magic lantern, the moving panorama, and the stereoscope evoked shadow copies of our world long before the advent of digital technologies and exercised a powerful pull on minds and imaginations.

Through six case histories and eight interactive simulations, Massimo Riva explores themes of virtual travel, social surveillance, and utopian imagination, shedding light on illustrious or, in some instances, forgotten figures and inventions from Italy’s past. Arguing for the continuity of experience and imagination, Riva adopts the term virtual realism, an experience marked by the virtualization of the real and the realization of the virtual. At a time when the gap between simulations and “real” experiences is getting ever smaller, a cultural-historical exploration of the prehistory of virtual reality can help us better understand the present in light of the past while exploring the past using the tools forged in the present.

DAVID KERTZER, The Pope That Would Be King, Penguin-Random House, 2018

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Pope and Mussolini tells the story of the bloody revolution that stripped the pope of political power and signaled the birth of modern Europe. “Kertzer’s brilliant treatment of the crisis in the papacy between 1846 and 1850 reads like a thriller. All the characters, from the poor of Rome to the king of Naples, stand out with a vividness that testifies to his mastery of prose.”—The New York Review of Books

MASSIMO RIVA, "Mini Gran Tour, in 3D," in: Time Machine. Virtual Photographic Trips Around the World 100 Years Ago, Eds. Alberto Zotti Minici, Massimiliano Pinucci, Massimo Riva, Florence: MBVision, 2018.

In his introductory essay to the Catalog of the exhibition he co-curated, held at Palazzo Angeli in Padua, Italy, 21 December 2018 - 3 March 2019, Massimo Riva focuses on stereoscopic journeys to Italy showing how they played a prominent role in the marketing of virtual mass tourism at the turn of the twentieth century.

FILOMENA FANTARELLA, Un Figlio per Nemico, Donzelli Editore: 2018

A compelling biographical work on Gaetano Salvemini (1873 - 1957), one of the most influential Italian intellectuals of his generation. The book reconstructs Salvemini’s private life from the loss of his family in the Messina earthquake of 1908 to 1946, when fascism, the World War, and his stepson’s execution for collaborationism with the Nazis, ruined his second family as well.