About the Project

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in terms of genres, agents, and ideological backgrounds, Italian literature of the Great War is not only a compelling historical document but also a layered site of invention in which nationalism and, more generally, patriotic faith underwent a powerful process of re-writing and deconstruction.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:

  1. 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.
  2. It studied a wide range of propagandistic materials and analysed their symbolic contents and rhetorical features.
  3. 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


  • 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 engagement

Some materials

European UnionWith funding from the EU