Italian - Doctoral Theses

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    From literary text to digital story: an innovative approach to teaching Italian as a foreign language and an analysis of its impact on the manifestation of students’ expressive potential
    (University College Cork, 2020) Lis Ventura, Sara; Chu, Mark; University College Cork
    This study explores the impact on foreign language learning of an innovative pedagogical approach, one which brings together literature and digital technology. Specifically, it investigates how combining the analysis of a literary text and the creation of a multimodal composition can help students generate communicative artefacts that simultaneously adhere to the stylistic features of a specific genre and respond to personal expressive intentions. The purpose of the project is twofold. On the one hand, it intends to encourage a humanistic-holistic approach to foreign language teaching by re-establishing the role of the expressive and aesthetic functions of language and by re-focusing attention on learners as sensitive and emotional beings (Kramsch, 2006). On the other, it aims to contribute to the expansion of the concept of literacy in language education by exploring new ways of including multimodal composition in the language classroom. The study, which draws on the theoretical framework of the multiliteracies approach (Kern, 2003; Paesani, Allen & Dupuy, 2016), takes the form of a qualitative case study: eight second-year undergraduate students of Italian as foreign language were first introduced to a literary text, a mix of two genres (i.e. a recipe and an autobiographical narrative). They were instructed on the stylistic features characterizing the text and finally they were engaged in creating a multimodal composition. The last task involved producing a digital story, a short digital video based on a script of 250-350 words that combines the author’s narrative voiceover with a variety of multimedia tools, such as photographs, music, and sounds. The objectives of the research were mainly three: i) investigating the students’ multimodal orchestration practices in order to understand how their “voice” – reinterpreted here as sign of personal and emotional involvement in the meaning-making process – emerges in the digital stories; ii) exploring the impact of the combination of text-analysis and multimodal composition on the students’ development of genre awareness; and iii) examining their perception of the learning experience, in particular considering its impact on linguistic skills, intrinsic motivation, and emotional engagement. The investigation was undertaken by carrying out a multimodal discourse analysis (MDA) of the participants’ digital artefacts and a thematic analysis of their individual semi-structured interviews and reflective journals. The MDA was conducted from a social semiotic perspective and by applying the Appraisal Framework (Martin & White 2005), an approach that aims at understanding how different resources are used by the author to construct textual personae, to manage interpersonal positionings and to negotiate and amplify emotions, judgments, and evaluations (Martin, 2000). The findings of the study show that the combination of literary text analysis and digital storytelling: i) can deeply engage students in the meaning-making processes by expanding their opportunity to manifest expressive intentions through multimodal orchestration; ii) can facilitate students’ development of genre awareness in the FL and promote the emergence of individual stylistic variations at the same time; iii) can intrinsically motivate the students, engage them on an aesthetic and emotional point of view, and be useful for developing their speaking and writing skills. Considering that due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic Irish higher education institutions have moved all teaching and assessment online, my study provides important insights into an approach that can be adapted and implemented in an online environment, thus offering a contribution to addressing some of the many challenges third-level language education is going to face in the next few years.
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    Distorted bodies: gender, sexuality and performativity in twentieth-century Italian fantasy literature
    (University College Cork, 2018) O'Leary, Martina; Ross, Silvia; Cork County Council; University College Cork
    Any examination of fantasy literature’s rich use of symbolic subject matter can reveal both the genre’s highly subversive potential, and its capacity to explore concepts generally perceived as off-limits, examples of which have famously been transgressive sexuality and gender expression. Simultaneously, all fields of gender studies contend that gender and sexuality are largely directed by social prompts proffering hegemonic ideals, including those exemplified through literary representations. This thesis investigates models of gender and sexuality articulated through unreal bodies in fantasy texts in order to explore and bring further insight to this unique relationship, and addresses the current paucity in Italian literary scholarship in this regard. Further, it examines whether the selected representative works spanning the twentieth century reinscribe or subvert patriarchal regulation of gender and sexuality, using fantasy genre theory (Todorov), feminist criticism (Butler), masculinity studies (Connell), queer theory (Sedgwick), ecofeminism (Plumwood) and posthumanism (Wolfe). This study explores a cross-section of twentieth-century Italian fantasy literature, given this period’s rich and active history in both the suppression and the development of gender and sexual rights and equalities. A chapter is dedicated to each of the five representative authors and a selection of their fantasy texts in order to provide an overview of the evolution of these themes in the chronological period covered. Luigi Capuana uses the trope of invisibility in his short stories “L’invisibile” (1901) and “Un vampiro” (1907) to articulate discussions on queerness and female sexuality, upholding a traditionalist attitude, as well as (unsurprisingly for his time) a general view of women and femininity as inferior. In contrast, Aldo Palazzeschi’s Il codice di Perelà (1911) and Stefanino (1969) treat femininity as a positive attribute in male characters. These works also explore sexuality, but with a progressive (though coded) aim, in developing compassion towards dissident sexualities. Italo Calvino’s fantasy trilogy I nostri antenati (1960) yields a fruitful discussion of masculinity, advocating lightness as a beneficial characteristic to be embraced, though the author utilizes other feminine traits to demonize male characters, and his portrayals of women and girls in general are found to be one dimensional – particularly in how they do not search for meaning, or attempt to understand the complexities of existence, as their male counterparts do, but are simply rewards for men. Anna Maria Ortese’s L’Iguana (1965) serves a specific goal of addressing various forms of oppression in society; her use of anthropomorphic characters in this and other works calls for reform in the treatment of groups marginalized due to sex, race and social class, utilizing the trope of the animal to identify modes of othering. Paola Capriolo’s collection of short stories, La grande Eulalia (1988), is heavily populated with central female characters, and problematizes the objectification of women, by contrasting the injurious outcomes of female characters’ submission to the male gaze, and their subsequent domination, with the favourable results that ensue upon resistance to such control. Though the discussions implicit within the bodily representations take issue with misogyny, Capriolo negates her association with feminist objectives, revealing the genre’s potential as a covert means by which to transmute standardized attitudes and prejudices, whether intentionally or not. This research aims to expand recognition of the fantasy genre’s potential influence and reach in how it communicates ideals and perspectives through subtle yet powerful symbolism, and to substantiate scholarly attention to and interest in the genre’s scope in this regard. An increased understanding of the poetics utilized to shape such identities and standards can, at the very least, inform an approach that questions the validity and appropriateness of literary instruction on social behaviours, and its influence in shaping the status quo. This exploration may, however, also raise active awareness of the little-acknowledged contribution effectuated by the modern Italian fantasy genre in the formation, or re-formation, of social norms and regulations on the body, gender and sexuality.
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    Il femminicidio raccontato: il discorso narrativo sulla violenza letale di genere tra giornalismo e letteratura
    (University College Cork, 2018) Mandolini, Nicoletta; Ross, Silvia; Irish Research Council
    Spostandosi dalla stretta nicchia dell’attivismo femminista al vasto panorama mediatico mainstream, la discussione italiana sulla violenza letale di genere alle donne (femminicidio) ha recentemente assunto i connotati di evento discorsivo nazionale. Considerando la vasta produzione di rappresentazioni giornalistiche e letterarie pubblicate sul tema a partire dal 2012, la presente tesi di dottorato indaga le modalità attraverso cui il settore discorsivo narrativo cronachistico e creativo contribuisce a diffondere e/o ad arricchire il dibattito teorico sul femminicidio. Tramite il supporto di teorie femministe di area psicanalitica (Benjamin) e socio-antropologica (Bourdieu), di ricerche narratologiche (Iser, Jauss, Carroll, Eco) e di metodologie mutuate dalla Foucauldian Critical Discourse Analysis (Jäger e Maier), lo studio si sofferma ad analizzare la rappresentazione cronachistica di due casi di femminicidio (quello di Stefania Noce [2011] e quello di Sara Di Pietrantonio [2016]), testi di giornalismo d’inchiesta (Il sangue delle donne [2014] di Alvaro Fiorucci; Se questi sono gli uomini [2012] di Riccardo Iacona; Quello che resta [2013] di Serena Maiorana) e opere letterarie (Fiore... come me [2013] di Giuliana Covella; Nessuna più [2013] antologia curata da Marilù Oliva; La scuola cattolica [2016] di Edoardo Albinati; Padreterno [2015] di Caterina Serra; Cosa resta di noi [2015] di Giampaolo Simi; Le spose sepolte [2018] di Marilù Oliva; Rosa sangue [2016], raccolta di racconti curata da Donato Altomare e Loredana Pietrafesa). Le conclusioni della ricerca mettono in luce la presenza di una stretta correlazione tra settore discorsivo teorico e narrativo, la quale risulta particolarmente proficua in corrispondenza di rappresentazioni caratterizzate da una struttura narrativa aperta capace di stimolare l’identificazione del ricevente e la problematizzazione della questione femminicidiaria. Femminicidio Narratives. The Italian Narrative Discourse on Lethal Gender Violence between Journalism and Literature. After moving from the small niche of feminist activism to the broad mainstream media sphere, the Italian discussion on lethal gender violence against women (femminicidio) has recently become a national discursive event. Considering the wide production of journalistic and literary representations published on the topic since 2012, this thesis investigates how the narrative discursive sector contributes, both with journalistic and creative texts, to popularising and/or to enriching the theoretical debate on feminicide. The study analyses newspaper coverage of two cases of feminicide (that of Stefania Noce [2011] and that of Sara Di Pietrantonio [2016]), journalistic inquiries (Il sangue delle donne [2014] by Alvaro Fiorucci; Se questi sono gli uomini [2012] by Riccardo Iacona; Quello che resta [2013] by Serena Maiorana) and literary works (Fiore... come me [2013] by Giuliana Covella; Nessuna più [2013] an antology edited by Marilù Oliva; La scuola cattolica [2016] by Edoardo Albinati; Padreterno [2015] by Caterina Serra; Cosa resta di noi [2015] by Giampaolo Simi; Le spose sepolte [2018] by Marilù Oliva; Rosa sangue [2016] a collection of short stories edited by Donato Altomare and Loredana Pietrafesa) using psychoanalytic (Benjamin) and socio-anthropological (Bourdieu) feminist theories, insights from narratology (Iser, Jauss, Carroll, Eco) as well as a methodological approach borrowed from Foucauldian Critical Discourse Analysis (Jäger and Maier). The research results highlight the presence of a close connection between theoretical and narrative discursive sectors, which is particularly fruitful in the case of works with an open narrative structure that allows the identification of the reader with the theme narrativised by the texs and a problematisation of the issue of feminicide.
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    Origins of postmodern impegno: ethical and political commitment in the works of Gianni Celati
    (University College Cork, 2019) Ronchi Stefanati, Michele; Chu, Mark; University College Cork
    This research investigates the role of Gianni Celati in the development of postmodern forms of impegno in contemporary Italy. It examines Celati’s entire works, as a writer, literary critic, translator and film-maker, from the perspective of his ethical and political commitment. This study analyses Celati’s choices in terms of language, content and style to see in what way his idea of literature engages with society and proposes Celati’s ethical and political commitment as a determining aspect to be considered when studying his oeuvre. In addition, it investigates what technical and theoretical structures used by Celati represent a relevant inheritance for the following generations of writers who have expressed and conceptualized forms of impegno in present-day Italy. It offers three case studies of authors who are directly linked to Celati and develop new forms of impegno, partly following Celati’s ideas, partly distancing themselves from that model. Gianni Celati (1937) is usually not considered an engaged writer and he himself would probably refuse this definition. Nevertheless, an ethical commitment constantly precedes and shapes his idea of literature and arts (Schwarz Lausten 2009). Celati’s works permanently engage with society and, it is argued, participate actively in revolutionary moments in Italian post-war history. This research draws on the more recent theories on postmodern ‘impegno’, which assign to Italian culture the role of ‘testing-ground’ of new forms of ethical and political commitment. The study draws on the theoretical framework outlined by Burns (2001) and Antonello-Mussgnug (2009). The end of structured and ideological thinking and the demise of Gramsci’s ‘organic intellectual’ do not mean the end of socio-political commitment, which instead arises now in a fragmentary way, refusing dogmatic statements. Celati has a crucial role in the passage between post-war ‘impegno’ and new forms of ethical and political commitment. Celati has never embraced an all-inclusive ideological view: he has rather differentiated his political commitment through an ethical way of thinking about the role of literature. The characteristics of Celati’s engagement anticipated what happened in Italy during the mature postmodern phase, namely what scholars have called ‘Postmodern Impegno’, addressing issues that have been emphasized by subsequent generations of ‘new engaged’ writers.
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    Wild woman: representations of female 'deviance' in modern and contemporary Italian fiction
    (University College Cork, 2017) Buckley, Claire; Ross, Silvia
    This study analyses the cultural and literary representation of female characters labelled “deviant” in Italian fiction. From the cultural context of nineteenth-century Italy up to that of the present day, I consider the figures of the ugly woman, prostitute and female terrorist in selected texts by nine Italian writers in order to map the delineation of such characters over time. Pivotal to my argument is the recognition that such characters pose a challenge to conventional norms, resulting in the female figures being represented as subjugated others who are either placed in marginalised spaces or removed from the narrative through death. In Chapter 1, I interrogate the figure of the ugly woman within the framework of Gilbert and Gubar’s angel/monster dichotomy. Examining Ugo Iginio Tarchetti’s Fosca (1869), Gianna Manzini’s Tempo innamorato (1928) and Margaret Mazzantini’s Non ti muovere (2002), I explore the relationship between the male protagonists and female Other using Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection. Focusing my attention on the representation of the prostitute, Chapter 2 analyses the notions of the body and contamination in Alberto Moravia’s La romana (1947), Armanda Guiducci’s Due donne da buttare (1976) and Younis Tawfik’s La straniera (1999). Chapter 3 is centred on the relationship between transgression and gender in my examination of the portrayal of women terrorists in texts set during the anni di piombo. Employing feminist criminology and trauma theory, I explore the repercussions of militant life on the characters’ emotional selves and consider the effects of trauma on their relationship to place in Anna Laura Braghetti’s Il prigioniero (1998), Antonella Tavassa La Greca’s La guerra di Nora (2003) and Marco De Franchi’s La carne e il sangue (2008).