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A Journal of Italian Studies Edited by the Graduate Students of the Department of Italian at UCLA

Articles

Marinetti's Metaphorical Break with Tradition

In “La tecnica della nuova poesia,” Marinetti openly attacks his predecessors, ridiculing their aesthetics, and proposing instead an unprecedented idea of poetry based on a new way of viewing the universe. In order for a new poetic language to be created, the old must be destroyed. In the 1912 Manifesto tecnico della letteratura futurista Marinetti calls for the abolition from language of “tutto ciò che essa contiene in fatto d’immagini stereotipate, di metafore scolorite, e cioè quasi tutto. While Marinetti identifies no substantial difference between the verse of Homer and that of D’Annunzio, he considers his own revolutionary precisely because of its “spaventosa potenza di analogia." But does Marinetti’s actual use of metaphor entirely break free of tradition? Are his analogies as revolutionary as he claims? This article explores a sprinkling of metaphors from three of Marinetti’s works written at different periods of his literary career: "Le Bataille de Tripoli" (1911), "8 anime in una bomba" (1919), and "L’areopoema del Golfo della Spezia" (1935). Although these works appertain to different literary genres, (a journalistic account, a self-proclaimed “romanzo esplosivo” and an “areopoema,” respectively) all three treat the same topic, which is Marinetti’s favorite topic—war. The purpose of my analysis is to determine the degree to which his use of metaphor departs from tradition in different genres and at different stages of his poetic development. More importantly, if Marinetti’s use of metaphor is as revolutionary as he claims, how are we to go about understanding it? Perhaps the traditional models of metaphorical analysis are insufficient. I therefore intend to incorporate into my argument various philosophical perspectives on metaphor, some of which are considered as revolutionary as Marinetti’s poetry itself.

Back to Futurism: the Ill-Digested Legacies

This article explores the legacy left by Futurism to the Neo-avant-garde and dismantles the wall erected by the neo-avant-gardists to separate themself form Marinetti's movement.

Elements of the Divine in Futurist Art and Literature

This paper addresses the use of religious symbols and shifting belief systems in Futurist art and literature. It specifically analyzes Palazzeschi's Il codice di Perela and the arte sacra of Fillia.

Futuristi e anarchici: Dalla fondazione del futurismo all'ingresso italiano nella prima guerra mondiale (1909 - 1915)

La mia ricerca è un'indagine sul rapporto arte, politica e storia attraverso i punti di contatto e di scontro fra futuristi e anarchici in un'incandescente Italia agli albori del XX secolo. 1909-1915: il raggio storico del lavoro proposto. Futuristi e anarchici. Perchè? Perché fin dalle prime battute il futurismo sostiene e declama alcuni fattori sociali e politici legati all'anarchismo: lotta al passatismo (classico, clericale, borbonico), lotta al parlamentarismo, violenza, scardinamento dell'assetto socio-culturale dell'epoca, l'impeto eversore. Entrambi fanno parte di movimenti variegati al proprio interno. Ad entrambi infine appartiene il concetto di avanguardia. Il lavoro proposto fa emergere alcuni tentativi di alleanze fra le due fila a partire da quelli attuati dallo stesso Marinetti. Viene inoltre evidenziata la singolare esperienza de La Barricata, rivista di Parma attorno alla quale si raggrupparono, nel maggio del 1912, gli anarco-futuristi. La ricerca del trait d'union futuristi-anarchici si soffermerà peculiarmente sul pittore Carlo Dalmazzo Carrá. Parigi, Londra, ma soprattutto Milano dove, attraverso un'interessante pubblicistica legata all'anarchismo individualista, emergono documenti e testimonianze del rapporto del pittore alessandrino con ambienti e personaggi anarchici dell'epoca. L’esperienza rivoluzionaria dell’Esposizione d’Arte Libera di Umberto Boccioni e le gesta del fondatore del Futurismo, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, integrano il lavoro.

Futurism's African (A)temporalities

Emerging from the paradox of early Futurism’s appetite both for progress and technology and for Africa and the primitive, this article seeks to reconcile these aspects of the movement by comparing Futurism’s and Africa’s temporalities. Drawing on anthropological and art historical discourse on the temporality of the tribal/primitive/non-Western and with reference to turn of the century Italian anthropological and political concepts of Africa, this article demonstrates how the use of African, "primitive" and "barbaric" elements in early Futurist theory, the art of Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà and the literature of F.T. Marinetti, was a key aspect of the Futurist relationship with the past, present and future.

The Deus (ex) Macchina: the Legacy of the Futurist Obsession with Speed

It is well known that the Futurists exalted speed and danger, worshipping both as god-like forces with the ability to renew the world. As a source of speed and thrill, the car was an important symbol of Futurism, one who’s symbolic impact continues to exert its influence on society and culture. It was not until the post-war period that the car began to take its place in popular culture as an icon and obsession, as the Futurists had sought to make it. The conditions of the "Boom economico" made it possible for the car to permeate the collective consciousness. In the postwar Boom years, many of the same socio-political forces that had been in play before the wars returned in full force, demanding continued negotiation. Through Il sorpasso, Dino Risi’s 1962 film, and Emilio Isgrò’s 1964 Poesia Volkswagen, I will examine the ways in which the Futurist ideology of the macchina as savior is carried through in two prominent cultural manifestations. This will also shed light on the continuing influence of Futurist ideology just when it is being most vehemently denied for its Fascist connections. I will also consider technical aspects of Futurist poetry and the Futurist artistic agenda as further support for the continued influence of Futurist ideology. This will include an examination of the use of parolibere conventions in Isgrò’s poem as well as the thematic similarities between Il sorpasso and the Fondazione e manifesto del Futurismo. Among these similarities are the obsession with speed and danger and the portrayal of the car as a lover. In Isgrò’s poem, the visual composition on the page and the figurative elements are just as critical to a complete understanding of the poem as what the text says.

Casanova, Marinetti and the Art of Seduction

The paper explores F.T. Marinetti's strategy behind seduction, both literal and textual, and seeks to elucidate Marinetti's affinities with the greatest seducer of the Italian literary tradition, Giacomo Casanova, as well as to illustrate Marinetti's original contributions to the theme. In my opinion, Marinetti uses seduction as a form of dissimulation in order to instigate women to participate in the Futurist movement: he intentionally plays the role of the misogynist to provoke a "written" response from women and to cause them to think about their position in society. Consequently, he appears more libertine or egalitarian than the "enlightened" Casanova, for Marinetti truly campaigns to eliminate all the societal constructions oppressing the sexes, mainly the institution of marriage and the romantic idea of Love.

Gender, Science, and the Modern Woman: Futurism’s Strange Concoctions of Femininity

This article examines the complex relationships drawn between material reality, (pro)creation, time, and aesthetics in the pursuit of a utopic Futurist universe that consistently decries the feminine symbolic expressly rooted in the female body. The scope of the project is to analyze Futurism's rewriting of conventional concepts of time, nature, science, and creation, their influence on corporeal aesthetics (and particularly the denigration of the female physiological body, symbolic of love, sex, and reproduction), and its subsequent effect on the development of the modern (literary) woman. The analysis focuses on Rosa Rosà's Una donna con tre anime (1918) and Enif Robert's Un ventre di donna (1918), examining woman's symbolic body, in relation to scientific discourse, intellectual progress, and modernization, as a figure of women's alterity within and against Marinetti's avant-garde movement.

(No) Queer Futurism: Prostitutes, Pink Poets, and Politics in Italy from 1913-1918

Italo Tavolato caused a scandal when the editors of Lacerba published his “Elogio della prostituzione” in 1913, yet this article was one of a number of sexually provocative texts produced in this first phase of Futurism. The subversive and revolutionary nature of this avant-garde art movement was largely based on the overturning and questioning of traditional gender roles, what we would call today a “queer” as opposed to a hetero-normative concept of sexuality. The adoption and praise of the figure of the prostitute by Tavolato speaks to his re-evaluation of traditional sexual morality, making the prostitute a decadent yet honest alternative to reproductive sexual politics “Non costa anche la moglie?” Tavolato rightly asks. Marinetti also makes use of this strategy of undermining expectations of gender in the initial phase of Futurism, his “prostitute-like” tactics of self-promotion garnering him the title the “Pink Poet” according to Claudia Salaris. As the movement spread, however, battle lines were drawn, and traditional gender roles re-established as the distinction between Futurism and Fascism was blurred. Using Lee Edelman’s vision of a hypothetical queer politics from his work No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive as a lens through which to read the progression of the Futurist movement, it becomes apparent that the tension between homosexual and homo-social is not a latent force on the margins of Futurism, but rather a central, formative issue. The role of the prostitute in the writings of the Futurists makes this clear. By examining Marinetti’s and the Milanese futurists’ treatment of Tavolato, Papini, Palazzeschi, and the other Florentines in their correspondence, articles, and manifestoes, as well as Marinetti and Corra’s homophobic novel L’isola dei baci, this paper hopes to illuminate the function of queer politics and the role of reproductive futurism in the history of Italian Futurism.

Modernismo ed elitismo nell'era delle macchine: I confini di una nuova aristocrazia in Marinetti e Mussolini

In this article I argue that Marinetti's influence on Mussolini cannot be limited to cultural policy during the fascist regime and that it is essential to focus the attention on the interference of these currents intended as forms of modernist cultural items. Marinetti pioneered attention to peculiar generational and social targets, developing an approach to mass society which is defined as aporetic elitarianism, intercepting the nature of radical change within modernization, war, women role in the society and elaborated a model of identity alternative respect to the bourgeois one. Mussolini gained from this approach a series of suggestions and strategic hints concerning the technocratic modernism he was intended to achieve. Gender identity-making in modern mass society and the necessity to elaborate a modernistic figure of hero are traits pivotal in appreciating such issues. The main difference between Marinetti and Mussolini is individuated in the conception of state and party bureaucracy, which was seen by Marinetti in very derogative ways with respect to the centrality of the machine myth.

From fotodinamismo to fotomontaggio: The Legacy of Futurism's Photography

This article examines the complicated and at times hostile relationship between Italian Futurism and the photographic medium with a particular focus on the movement's later uses of the iconic portrait and systems of montage.

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