altrelettere https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/ <p><span id="result_box" lang="it">benvenuto/a sul sito di <strong><span style="color: #db7433;">altrelettere</span></strong>, la rivista ad accesso aperto per la letteratura italiana e&nbsp;gli&nbsp;studi di genere</span>.</p> University of Zurich it-IT altrelettere 1664-6908 <p> </p> <p> </p> Italian Girlhoods and Other Brilliant Friends https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/article/view/3665 <p>While encompassing many differences and angles, all the collected articles endeavour to explore the ways in which female youth has been represented in modern and contemporary Italian cultural production. The idea that female coming-of-age stories have been subjected to several stages in their representation based on the social context, is another – significant – assumption that links these contributions together. Very much aware of the mutual influence between cultural change and the history of (literary) genres, we are convinced that this issue offers new insights on the voices of girls and young women in Italian culture across the decades, shedding a light on those representations in which they are positioned as subjects of their own narratives.</p> Olga Campofreda Marco Ceravolo Copyright (c) 2022 Olga Campofreda, Marco Ceravolo https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-19 2022-05-19 10.5903/al_uzh-58 Dichotomous conceptualisations of female friendship in 20th and 21st century Italian literature – a comparison of Alba de Céspedes, Anna Banti, Elena Ferrante, and Donatella Di Pietrantonio https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/article/view/3666 <p>Female friendship played a minor role in 20th century Italian narrative and this theme seems to have emerged only recently in Italian and European literature. Nevertheless, it offers an interesting lens through which to reflect on female narrative across time. This paper will first analyse the conceptualisation of female friendship by two authors who were the cornerstones of 20th century Italian (female) narrative – Anna Banti and Alba de Céspedes. It will then compare it to the representation of female friendship in contemporary authors, like Elena Ferrante and Donatella Di Pietrantonio. I will argue that Banti and de Céspedes’ representations of female friendships are dichotomous. The young protagonist of Banti’s Itinerario di Paolina (1937) avoids female bonds as a consequence of her attempts to escape from patriarchal restrictions, while Alessandra in de Céspedes’ Dalla parte di lei (1949) conceptualises female bonds as constitutive of her own and free identity from a very tender age. Building on this analysis, this paper shall then assess the extent to which 21st century authors like Ferrante and Di Pietrantonio have echoed or changed the representation of female bonds and in turn reproduce the dichotomous conceptualisation of female friendship in their narratives. It will argue that while reproducing a dichotomous representation of female friendships similar to that of de Céspedes and Banti, this is actually underpinned by the same ideological standpoint in both authors, because they both see female friendship as the ground to forge women’s identities and fight the patriarchal struggles of their times.</p> Martina Pala Copyright (c) 2022 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-19 2022-05-19 10.5903/al_uzh-59 «Non eravamo mica in un romanzo»: Women’s Stories as Inspiration and Education https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/article/view/3667 <p>This article looks at the role(s) of girls and women as depicted in some early twentieth-century popular texts and in one more recent text set during those years: Bianca Pitzorno’s Il sogno della macchina da cucire (2018). Pitzorno’s coming-of-age novel explores the power of education, literature and work for an orphan girl, a sartina whose sewing skills allow her a degree of independence, and whose determination to learn, particularly through reading and conversations with other women, allows her to protect herself in a society in which women of her class and background are highly vulnerable. The novel’s engagement with turn-of-the-century popular culture both celebrates and critiques its importance in the lives of women, as the dramatic and melodramatic stories recounted in genre fiction, novels and opera offer the protagonist an escape but also an education. Through the tales – often tragic and cautionary – of Madama Butterfly, Jane Eyre and, above all, Carolina Invernizio’s Giselda (Storia di una sartina, 1892), Pitzorno helps a contemporary audience comprehend the strictures faced by women in earlier times, while also furnishing her young sartina with much greater agency than those antecedents. In reading about this girl’s reading, and about the lives of her friends and employers, we gain new insights into women’s work and leisure in early twentieth-century Italy, and see social expectations and class dynamics brought to life. We also encounter sobering parallels with ongoing issues in today’s society.</p> Brigid Maher Copyright (c) 2022 Brigid Maher https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-19 2022-05-19 10.5903/al_uzh-60 Spaces of Female Friendship and Sexuality in Silvia Avallone’s Acciaio and Un’amicizia https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/article/view/3668 <p>This article examines the representation of friendship between adolescent girls in two novels by Silvia Avallone: Acciaio, published in 2010, and Un’amicizia of 2020. After identifying thematic points of contact between the two texts, which include adolescent coming of age, and the separation from parents as a rite of passage, the question of social class, and literary setting, the article focuses on the girls’ intimate friendship, their corporeal performances of sexuality, and their engagement with their surroundings. The adolescent girls adopt spaces of seclusion, or closet spaces (BROWN 2000), as a means of playing out the domestic sphere, exploring their sexuality and, ultimately, solidifying their friendship. I contend that in both of Avallone’s novels, the centrality of the adolescent girls’ friendship forms an original and highly engaging narrative strategy, as seen in the writer’s exploration of the intensity of the bond between two best friends, including an acknowledgement of same-sex desire. I posit that the writer’s depiction of female friendship is in part influenced by patriarchal norms, not only in her adoption of the male gaze, but also in that the relationship between the two girls is marked by rivalry, jealousy and conflict, thus undermining what might otherwise be deemed a feminist strategy and the potential for female solidarity (RAYMOND 1986).</p> Silvia Ross Copyright (c) 2022 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-19 2022-05-19 10.5903/al_uzh-61 Reading Little Women after the Italian 1970s: The Influence of Postfeminism on Lidia Ravera’s Reinterpretation of the Classic https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/article/view/3669 <p>Published in two volumes between 1868 and 1869, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott follows the classic coming-of-age structure for female characters as developed in nineteenth-century literature. Although the story is first introduced as that of a family, it instead follows each protagonist on their individual journey towards social recognition, which, for the young March sisters, is gained with marriage. From this perspective, girlhood is a transient stage of life, routed towards the achievement of economic (and emotional) stability.<br />Since its first publication, Alcott’s classic has been widely discussed and subjected to many reinterpretations in literary form, as well as in film and theatrical dramatisation. In this article I focus on the novel Bagna i fiori e aspettami (1986), a rewriting by the Italian author Lidia Ravera composed in the aftermath of the feminist struggles of the seventies. The novel, set in Italy during the eighties, offers the opportunity for the author to integrate the representation of girlhood with the language and images of mass culture. As Carol Lazzaro-Weiss points out in her study on the female Bildungsroman (1993), «women writers are creating new themes and plots and […] they do so by recombining, challenging, and exploiting old structures to their purposes» (18). Bagna i fiori e aspettami offers a good example for studying such literary manipulation. This essay shows how Ravera’s main character anticipates a new idea of femininity which – leaving behind political instances and reflections on gender essentialism – embraces a more individualistic and certainly more problematic approach to female agency influenced by postfeminist discourse (GREER 1999; HOOKS 2000; GAMBLE 2001).</p> Olga Campofreda Copyright (c) 2022 Olga Campofreda https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-19 2022-05-19 10.5903/al_uzh-62 Beyond bambole: Female Friendship in Italian Transnational Television https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/article/view/3670 <p>Recent television programming in Italy has begun to focus on the themes of female friendship and girlhood, moving from a long history of traditionally male-centered narratives towards stories that privilege female subjectivity. This article analyzes this recent trend by looking at three different programs: the HBO/Rai adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels L’amica geniale; the Netflix production Baby, based on the 2013 Rome teen prostitution scandal; and the web series SKAM Italia, based on the international series that originated in Norway. Despite their apparent distinctions in terms of target audiences, genre, and style, all three shows place the friendship between adolescent girls as their primary narrative concern. Through analyses of each series, we can see how these representations employ similar tropes in their depictions of girlhood and friendship, such as the mirroring and doubling of the female protagonists; the presence of the love triangle; the configuration of female friendship in relation to gay male characters; and the suggestion of potential lesbian desire. This article meditates on the possible motivations for this newfound focus on female subjectivity as a potential strategy for marketing Italian television worldwide.</p> Rebecca Bauman Copyright (c) 2022 Rebecca Bauman https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-19 2022-05-19 10.5903/al_uzh-63 Italian Girlhoods and Other Brilliant Friends https://www.altrelettere.uzh.ch/article/view/3671 <p>While encompassing many differences and angles, all the collected articles endeavour to explore the ways in which female youth has been represented in modern and contemporary Italian cultural production. The idea that female coming-of-age stories have been subjected to several stages in their representation based on the social context, is another – significant – assumption that links these contributions together. Very much aware of the mutual influence between cultural change and the history of (literary) genres, we are convinced that this issue offers new insights on the voices of girls and young women in Italian culture across the decades, shedding a light on those representations in which they are positioned as subjects of their own narratives.</p> Olga Campofreda Marco Ceravolo Copyright (c) 2022 Olga Campofreda, Marco Ceravolo https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0 2022-05-20 2022-05-20