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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Finding Feminist Affect in Italian Literature: From Sibilla Aleramo to Rossana Campo, 1906-2012

  • Author(s): Anatrone, Soledad Donata
  • Advisor(s): Spackman, Barbara G
  • et al.

The project of nation-building is an affective one; it depends on shared sites of emotional investment and collective memory in order to produce a language that speaks to and for the subjects of that nation. In Italy this task has been at the heart of public debate since the turn of the century, coloring the content and form of literary narratives as well as political activism. Finding Feminist Affect in Italian Literature: From Sibilla Aleramo to Rossana Campo, 1906-2012, identifies parallels between political activism and narrative at different moments in the history of the Italian women’s movement; I begin with the suffragists and consider narratives of individual achievement and struggle, like Sibilla Aleramo’s (1906) Una donna, that echo the philosophical impulses and political efforts of that moment. Following this interplay of textual expression and feminist thought, I move from the turn of the century to the present day with each chapter focusing on a discrete period in modern Italian history. The second chapter explores connections between collaboratively authored manuscripts and practices of collective identification and group politics beginning in the 1970s. This is followed by an analysis of the academic turn among Italian feminists in the 1980s and 1990s, and its effects on both the style and content of the texts they authored. In the final chapter I ask how the current women’s movement is defining itself as Italian, and how those criteria have changed in light of the expansion of the European Union, increased immigration and demographic diversity, the rise of nationalist sentiment, and public displays of racism.

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