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Out of Italy: Italian Women Exiled under Fascism Reimagine Home and the Italian Identity

  • Author(s): Robinson, Nicole Hardy
  • Advisor(s): Re, Lucia;
  • Fogu, Claudio
  • et al.

Vera Modigliani (1888-1974), Maria Brandon Albini (1904-1995), and Joyce Lussu (1912-1998) were antifascist activists who emigrated from Italy—fuoriuscite—and wrote novels, memoirs, and poetry about their varied experiences both during their period of exile, and well after it in the course of their literary careers. In my dissertation, I conduct a comparative study of these women’s narratives. I offer a nuanced study of the women’s literary works in order to fill a pronounced gap in current exile literature scholarship of the period, which has focused almost exclusively on male authors. My critical framework for this research is interdisciplinary, structured predominantly around the narrative theory of life writing. In addition, I also pull from exile, feminist, and sociological theory. Ultimately, I demonstrate that there are experiences and literary themes common to the three women, despite the fact that they were not closely linked in their exile. I examine the following leitmotifs, among others: the tension between an Italian cultural identity and the marginalized identity of woman, Jewish, or other; the reciprocal influence of memory and narration; the tension between narrating memories and the passage of time; and gendered identity construction through narration. I thus delineate the beginnings of a typology of women’s exile literature that male-oriented scholarship has previously been unable to detect and map.

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