Supervisor: John David Rhodes
Research topic: Unnatural Vitalisms: Animation, Queerness and the Bio-Aesthetics of Technogenic Life.
Ferdinando is a PhD candidate in the Centre for Film and Screen Studies at Cambridge University where, before joining the doctoral program, he completed an MPhil with High Distinction. His MPhil research investigated queer cinema in the full scope of its cultural manifestations, ranging from experimental to animated as well as popular modes of cinematic visuality. Before his MPhil, he received a BA in Computer Animation Arts from The National Centre for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University where he graduated with First Class Honours, gaining industry-oriented training in the crafts of animation, VFX and digital cinema, training that continues to inform his materially attentive approach to moving image scholarship.
Broadly speaking, Ferdinando is interested in the intersection between three main areas of study: Queer Theory and Culture; Media Studies, particularly Histories, Theories & Praxes of Animation; and Continental Philosophy. At present, his doctoral research is attempting to capitalize on philosophical conceptualizations of life (and by extension death) to stage a mutually productive encounter between queer theory and animation studies. Building on an established tenant of animation theory, which argues for animation’s privileged relationship to the “question of life,” Ferdinando’s doctoral thesis attempts to reconceptualise animation in relation to a history of thought as well as of cultural, scientific and technological productions that—from the myth of Pygmalion to Dolly the cloned sheep—have been propelled by what Deborah Levitt recently described as a long-lasting “quest for artificial life.” Insofar as this quest, the thesis argues, is effectively a quest for a life that is technologically augmented, a quest for a life that is borne of the transubstantiation of the aesthetic, not to mention a quest for a life that is animated by the libidinal drives of unorthodox erotics, the line of argument offered by this thesis operates through a (re)conceptualization of the animated medium as part of the technics and aesthetics of bios as well as a recentering of current understandings of animation ontology and animated vitalities within the field of view of queerness. Ultimately, what transpires is a queer theory of animation together with a revisionist history of queerness in the canon of Western animation.
Alongside his doctoral research, Ferdinando also maintains an interest in both Italian studies and literary theory as well as a theoretically-driven moving image practice.
Selected Scholarships/ Prizes
- Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, Cambridge University, research grant (2022)
- Cambridge International Scholarship awarded by The Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust (2021-2024)
- Wolfson College Jennings Prize, Cambridge University (2020)
Selected Conference Papers
- “An ‘Animate Semiosis’: Animation, Death and the Queer Work of Animated Vitalism,” The 32nd International Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, June 30-July 2, 2023;
- “(Re)Animations of AIDS: Disney and the Economics of Queer Death,” Disney at 100: Everlasting Entertainment and a Spellbinding Future, Conference organised by the Disney, Culture and Society Research Network, June 26-30, 2023 (online);
- “Unnatural Vitalisms: Animation, Queerness and the Political Bio-Aesthetics of Artificial Life,” Animex Research and Innovation Conference, Teesside University, April 17-18, 2023.
- CS6: European Film
- CS7: Cinema and the Political
- Seminar Leader:
- CS6: European Film