University of Leicester
2017MorelliMPhD.pdf (1.84 MB)

Queer(ing) Gender in Contemporary Italian Women’s Writing. Maraini, Sapienza, Morante

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posted on 2017-09-04, 10:13 authored by Maria Morelli
In this thesis I propose a queer reading of the works of three contemporary Italian women writers, Dacia Maraini (1936—), Goliarda Sapienza (1924-1996) and Elsa Morante (1912- 1985), published between the 1970s and 1980s. This timeframe coincides with the height of the Italian pensiero della differenza sessuale, emphasising the socially constructed nature of ‘woman’ and advocating a new symbolic order, with a focus on the redefinition of female identity. Yet, the texts that I examine for my study are not, or not just, feminist manifestoes. Despite sharing many feminist concerns, they also go beyond the dominant theoretical paradigms of the day and venture a step further into the exploration of alternative discourses that challenge taken-for-granted relations between biological sex, gender and sexual desire as fixed patterns for identity formation, thereby problematising the notion of ‘identity’ itself. As such, they appear in tune with more recent formulations arising from a new field of critical theory first elaborated in the North-American context in the early 1990s and now referred to as ‘queer theory’. Used as a framework for my analysis, queer theory will help us understand the critical attitude that Maraini, Sapienza and Morante upheld towards the cultural and philosophical positions of their time, while also suggesting new ways of (re)reading their works nowadays. My thesis will demonstrate that, despite not always sharing the same ideological agendas, these authors manifest a marked unease towards the binary logic implicit to the categories of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, positing these as cultural performances and espousing a queer distrust towards identitarian anchorings.



Spunta, Marina; Storchi, Simona

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Modern Languages

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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