ISSN: 2038-0925

“Women’s place, borders and intersecting spaces in italian culture”

In Ancient Greece women used to spend their lives in the gyneaceum, a portion of the house reserved for them, where they lived isolated, excluded from the Polis. Virtuous Roman women were domisedae (‘domestic, she who stays at home’) and lanificae (‘wool-spinner’), expected to spend their time in the house spinning or attending other domestic duties, like Lucretia, Collatinus’ wife. Saint Jerome praises consecrated virgin Eustochia, who lived secluded in the monastic cell she set up in her house, devoting herself to prayer, meditation and domestic work. Fourteenth- and fifteenth century authors, such as Francesco da Barberino, Paolo da Certaldo, Bernardino da Siena, Leon Battista Alberti, strongly recommend women’s enclosure within the household. If men were allowed to live in the external space, the place of business and political discourse, women belonged to the interior, to the protected space of the house, where they were expected to live separated from the world. Such idea survived until early modern times. Protofeminist Moderata Fonte, at the end of the sixteenth century, sets her dialogue on women’s worth in the isolated and protected space of the garden, proximate to the domestic one, and calls her own work a domestica conversazione (‘domestic conversation).

All of the female figures that, in various way and through different time periods, challenged male domination, also challenged and redefined female spaces. So did amazons, female warrior, martyrs, mystics, erudite women, courtesans, fallen women.

This panel aims to identify and discuss female spaces, as they appear in Italian literature, art, cinema and in any other expression of Italian culture. How did patriarchy define such space over time? How did women themselves define their own spaces? Did women accept such spaces or did they refuse them? Did they reappropriate and redefine “their” spaces? How did women trespass or blur the borders of female spaces?

Possible research areas include but are not limited to: -Italian literature -Italian-American literature -Comparative literatures -Gender studies -Colonial and postcolonial studies -Cinema and media studies -Linguistics -History of Italian language -Material philology and history of the book -History -Art history

Please contact Marianna Orsi Indiana University – morsi@umail.iu.edu

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