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La comunita' mutilata: Embodiment, Corporality, and the Reconstruction of the Italian Body Politic in the Works of F.T. Marinetti and Gabriele D'Annunzio

  • Author(s): Martire, Anthony John
  • Advisor(s): Spackman, Barbara G
  • et al.

"La comunità mutilata: Embodiment, Corporality, and the Reconstruction of the Italian Body Politic in the works of F.T. Marinetti and Gabriele D'Annunzio", is a study in how discourses of technological modernism, nationality, and woundedness operate on the longstanding metaphor of the body politic. It focuses on the writings of two of Italy's most controversial, and influential, figures during and after the First World War. I show how mutilated and prosthetic bodies become powerful political metaphors for both Marinetti and D'Annunzio, which upend and transform the notion of the body politic in posthuman, postliberal and antidemocratic ways. This study is grounded in literary analysis, but draws from political philosophy, art history and rhetoric to examine Marinetti's futurist manifestos, novels, and poetry (1909-1921), and D'Annunzio's political speeches relating to the occupation of the city of Fiume (1919-1920).

In Chapter 1, I analyze Marinetti's manifestos produced between 1909 and 1918 in order to demonstrate how Marinetti inaugurates the post-humanist discourse of cybernetics. In Chapter 2, I provide a reading of two of Marinetti's prose works, L'alcova d'acciaio (1921), and Come si seducono le donne (1917), in order to demonstrate the connection between the representation of prosthesis and the attempt to construct an anti-democratic mode of political subjectivity in Italy. In Chapters 3 and 4, I analyze the speeches and writings of Gabriele D'Annunzio during his occupation of the eastern Adriatic city of Fiume (now Rijeka) as they pertain to the promotion of the concept of Italian irredentism as a means of overcoming the "mutilated victory" of World War One, and the construction of a postliberal form of italianità.

This study takes as its guiding premise the notion that metaphors of corporality act upon the experiences of individual and collective embodiment, and that they provide forms in which the body politic is recognized. I illustrate how the language of nationalism converges with the desire to enhance, extend, and expand the limits of the self to produce a model of Italian national identity that is grounded upon an embrace of the traumatic possibilities of war and technological modernization in the works of these two figures. In doing so, I aim to demonstrate how both F.T. Marinetti's and Gabriele D'Annunzio's texts reflect a transitional moment for the discourse of Italian national identity between the Liberal nation and the Fascist state.

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