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In a Queer Place in Time: Fictions of Belonging in Italy 1890-2010

  • Author(s): Atwood, Christopher
  • Advisor(s): Spackman, Barbara
  • et al.

In a Queer Place in Time: Fictions of Belonging in Italy 1890-2010 maps the "elsewheres"--spatial, temporal and intertextual-- that authorize same-sex desire in modern Italy. Tracing a genealogy that spans from nineteenth century travel writing about Italy to contemporary Italian novels, I argue that texts exported from the Northern Europe and the U.S. function as vital site of affiliation and vexing points of discrepancy for Italy's queers. Pier Vittorio Tondelli's Camere separate (1989), for instance, cites the British novelist Christopher Isherwood as proof that - somewhere else - silence did not yoke homosexuality. Rather than defining sexuality as a constant set of desires, I demonstrate it to be a retroactive fiction. It is the fleeting affinity that the reading of inherited texts can evoke. In examining the reception of transnational gay narratives in the national context of Italy, this dissertation argues that the concept of "Western" homosexuality is internally riven. Ultimately, In a Queer Place in Time illuminates how local histories - including affective differences like shame, estrangement and backwardness - continue to haunt gay culture's global fictions.


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