Fatherland as Motherland: Unstable Gender and Nation in Italian Great War Literature is an EU-funded project Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – Individual Fellowship that run at the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures from September 2015 to August 2017 and was carried out by Dr Cristina Savettieri.
Its main aim was to explore the interplay between nationalism and gender in Italian Great War literature by bringing together literary studies, political history, and gender and cultural studies. An extraordinarily heterogeneous corpus in terms of genres, agents, and ideological backgrounds, Italian literature of the Great War is not only a compelling historical document but also a layered site of invention in which nationalism and, more generally, patriotic faith underwent a powerful process of re-writing and deconstruction.
Becoming male is a crucial chapter of the pedagogy of the nation and a main concern anxiously or euphorically expressed in war writings by both male and female writers. From ultra-manly warrior fantasies to the solace of brotherly comradeship, from the masculinizing of the image of the motherland to the defeated virility haunting the narrative of war prisoners and veterans, war literature puts forth a broad range of conflicting masculine discourses, too often flattened on the gendered culture and biopolitics of the fascist Ventennio.
The project developed along three main lines:
- It provided a new interpretation of the representation of manliness and virility in Italian Great War literature as both supporting the official discourse of nationalism and undermining it.
- It studied a wide range of propagandistic materials and analysed their symbolic contents and rhetorical features.
- It proposed a new interpretation of the relationship between war and fascist masculinity.
While giving a fresh contribution to the diverse set of transnational research actions occurring on the occasion of WWI centenary, the project had also the ambition to produce far-reaching impact on the general public by fostering a better understanding of the gendered character of modern nationalism and its cultural roots against the backdrop of European integration.
Under the supervision of Professor Federica Pedriali (Scientific Supervisor), Dr Cristina Savettieri joined Italian at LLC as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (Experienced Researcher) in September 2015.
Dissemination of research findings
- International Conference Mobilizing Identities/Identities in Motion through the First World War, University of Edinburgh, 11-12 May 2017. Conference organiser and speaker, Paper: ‘Gender Trouble in Italian Narratives of Captivity of the First World War’.
- Legacies of War Research Seminar Series, University of Leeds, 23 March 2017 [invited talk]. Paper: ‘Beautiful Wounds: Male bodies in Distress in the Italian Literature of the Great War’.
- Italian Research Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, 26 October 2016 [invited talk]. Paper: ‘Male Bodies in the Italian Literature of the Great War’.
- Research seminar, University of Leeds, 24 February 2016 [invited talk]. Paper: ‘Performing Manliness in Italian Great War Literature: A Case Study’.
- Research seminar, University College London, 10 February 2016 [invited talk]. Paper: ‘Masculinities at Odds: Notes on Gender and Nation in Italian Great War Literature’.
- Pirandello Society Annual Conference Pirandello: Performativity and Role-Playing, Edinburgh, 18 October 2015. Paper: ‘Performing the Identity of the Nation in Pirandello’s War Short Stories’.
- Society for Italian Studies Biennial Conference, Oxford, 28-30 September 2015. Panel organiser and speaker. Title of the panel: The Discourse of the Nation in Italian Great War Literature; paper: ‘Fatherland as Motherland: New Perspectives in the Study of Italian Great War Literature’.
- Cristina Savettieri (ed.), Raccontare la Grande Guerra: rappresentazioni, cultura, memoria, special issue of the scholarly journal Allegoria, 74, 2, 2016. Available in open access: http://www.allegoriaonline.it
- Cristina Savettieri, Maschile plurale: genere e nazione nella letteratura della Grande Guerra, in Allegoria, 74, 2, 2016, pp. 9-40.
- Cristina Savettieri, Performing the Identity of the Nation in Pirandello’s War Short Stories, in Pirandello Studies, 36, 2016, pp. 8-22.
- Cristina Savettieri, Maschile plurale: genere e nazione nella letteratura della Grande Guerra, Bologna, Società Editrice il Mulino (monograph under contract, forthcoming in 2018).
- Public debate ‘Nationhood and Nationalism Today’, held at the Scottish Parliament on 11 May 2017. Keynote Speakers: Professor Angie Hobbs (University of Sheffield) and Professor Sir Thomas Devine.
- Public encounter with writer and journalist Paolo Rumiz ‘Memoria per l’Europa’, held at the Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh on 12 May 2017.
- Exhibition ‘WW1 Landscapes: Reimagining the No Man’s Land and the Prison Camp’ with artworks of Master of Illustration students, Edinburgh College of Art. Opening at the Scottish Parliament.
- Exhibition ‘An Imagined Nation: A Journey through Italian Trench Newspapers’, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, May-June 2017.
- Video overview of the project
- Video overview of the conference ‘Mobilizing Identities/Identities in Motion’
- Video overview of the debate at the Scottish Parliament
- Podcast of Angie Hobbs’ keynote address at the Scottish Parliament
- The podcast of the talk given at Legacies of War Research Seminar (University of Leeds) on 23 March 2017 can be downloaded here.
With funding from the EU