Student in Italian receives University of Notre Dame Library Research Award

Author: Staff

Jake House

The Center for Italian Studies is pleased to announce that Notre Dame graduating senior Charles House won the Senior Thesis Prize of the 2023 Hesburgh Library Research Award program for his thesis “Coproducing Fascism: How Italy and Spain’s Cinematic Cooperation Demonstrates International Fascist Values.” Houses’s thesis, a study of Augusto Genina’s 1940 film L’Assedio dell’Alcazar, was directed by Charles Leavitt, Associate Professor of Italian and Film and Associate Director of the Center for Italian Studies.

A Romance Languages major with concentrations in both Italian and Spanish, House won the 2023 Joseph Italo Bosco Award for Excellence in Italian Studies. For his award-winning Senior Thesis, House consulted a wealth of primary resources from both Italy and Spain to produce an innovative study of a significant collaboration between Italian Fascism and Spanish Falangism in the run-up to World War II. “I searched through contemporary scholarship on the relationship between Spain and Italy during the Spanish Civil war while also exploring primary source film magazines in both Spanish and Italian,” says House. “What I discovered was a political and cinematic conversation between the two countries that looked to promote an international fascist ethic.  My thesis analyzes how this international fascism is presented both in the film as well as in politics and cinema magazines from the time.” 

The 2023 University of Notre Dame Library Research Award competition, sponsored by the Hesburgh Libraries, recognizes excellence in research skills by undergraduates, who use a breadth of library resources and services for their course assignments, research projects and creative endeavors. Charles House says that, “while the task of discovering information on a relatively obscure Italian film from the 1940s seemed daunting, the resources and collections of Hesburgh Libraries helped me to uncover a wealth of information on the intriguing but understudied film from the Wagstaff Collection.”

The Christopher G. Wagstaff Italian Film collection, housed in the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame, encompasses more than two thousand Italian films and television programs. The collection spans over one hundred years of Italian film history, as well as rare interviews with Italian actors, directors, and scholars, documentaries, movie extras, and commercials.

Of the 2023 Senior Thesis Prize, House says, “I owe a million thanks to the Italian Studies program for giving me the skills to be able to understand and interpret Italian art and culture.  Their inspired teaching gave me a love for Italian culture that made working on a project like this a true joy (even when deadlines were approaching quickly). The Hesburgh Library’s staff were also incredibly helpful in getting me the information I needed from among the thousands of books in the library and the millions of entries in online databases. Finally, I must thank Professor Leavitt who showed me L’assedio dell’Alcazar and advised me throughout the process of writing this thesis.  Without his countless edits and inputs, my thesis would not have half the quality of the current finished edition.”

In addition to his excellent work in Italian Studies, Charles House participated in varsity Cheerleading for three years and portrayed the Notre Dame Leprechaun for one. In 2023 he was awarded his Notre Dame monogram jacket, as well as the Capt. Jack Samar and Mrs. Sherry Samar Sword for Athletic Excellence. House is a First-Class Midshipmen commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. After graduation, Charles will report to The Basic School at Headquarters Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, where he will study to be a provisional rifle platoon commander before selecting his Military Occupational Specialty.