Ironic visions : the undoing of gender myths in Italian cinema and literature from Fascism to Fellini / by Dana Elizabeth Renga.
My thesis is that there is a substantial body of Italian films and literary texts that constitute an alternative, anti-masculinist strain in modern Italian culture, calling sexual difference into question. Such texts describe domains of “feminine” behavior that both undermine, subvert and threaten traditionally male-“engendered” narratological spaces and create vividly fresh outlooks and environs suitable to a labile socio-sexual climate. In seeking to describe this critical tendency within Italian culture, I examine examples from cinema, fiction and poetry, focusing on three pivotal moments in Italian national history, providing a series of case studies that taken together represent a significant trend within Italy's complex and critical relationship with its gender identity. Textual assessments of irony and point-of-view reveal how filmmakers, novelists and poets have often taken issue with and provided critiques of the tendency in Italian culture to define itself hegemonically in terms of virility as opposed to de-valued femininity. I examine how my texts either feminize and ironize directly prototypical icons of Italian masculinity or critique or deconstruct cultural, ideological and epistemological mythologies predicated on the principle of male supremacy. Chapter One examines the reduction of Giacamo Casanova, a self-proclaimed man of letters, scientist and alchemist, into the stereotypical Latin lover as interpreted by Fellini's Casanova and Zanzotto's collection of poems Filò. In their re-presentation, the over-sexed stereotype comes across as a nostalgic exile, in search of a lost homeland based on poetry, lullaby and a maternal bond. Chapter Two addresses the ironic and deconstructive attitude towards Italy's fascist dictatorship in Lina Wertmuller's Film d'amore e d'anarchia and Morante's La Storia. An examination of these texts demonstrates how the regime's desire to promote national identity founded on elements such as war, fatherland and colonialism is undermined by the politicization of rules of female/male conduct. Chapter Three addresses the myth of man-made prosperity during the “Economic Miracle” of the post-war years as contested by Antonioni's L'avventura, La notte and L'eclisse and Calvino's Difficult Loves. The re-established unity of the post-war family is threatened by anti-heroic male characters and visionary and nomadic females, resisting conformity to alienating environments.
Record last modified: 2018-04-24 16:01:00
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